Going over the 'fiscal cliff'
We have been hearing about this 'fiscal cliff' on the national news for a while, almost to the point where we tune it out.
It is easy to think this thing that is so important in the news is talking about someone else in some other place, but some Knox County residents now find themselves standing on the edge of this very cliff.
The national story has been a familiar complaint about gridlocked party politics. Congressional Republicans want to maintain tax breaks and cut spending. Democrats, led by the President, argue we should raise taxes on the wealthiest Americans while protecting Bush-era tax cuts to the middle class.
If they do not reach an agreement by year's end, we go over the cliff and a series of automatic tax hikes and spending cuts will go into effect. This still sounds kind of far off, maybe a problem for April. Until we notice that extended unemployment benefits are also teetering on the edge.
In Maine, a worker who loses his or her job due to a company closing or downsizing will receive 26 weeks of unemployment benefits. After the financial crash of 2008 plunged us into a recession we still haven't recovered from, the feds took mercy on the many who are unable to find work and extended those benefits.
If the deal fails to come through, anyone relying on those extended benefits will lose their unemployment Jan. 2, according to the Maine Department of Labor.
More than 7,000 people statewide will be affected in the short term.
At the same time this news was reaching us, we learned the Mid-Coast Hospitality House, the only homeless shelter serving Knox, Lincoln, Waldo and Sagadahoc counties, has shut down.
For several months members of area churches and others who work with those in need have been expressing concern about the situation. Homelessness in our area may not be the visible problem seen in larger cities, but economy and high cost of living has put more people in need of services.
The building for the Mid-Coast Hospitality House in Rockport was owned by the non-profit corporation. We urge leaders in the community including local churches and service organizations to pull together and come up with a plan to either reopen that shelter or establish a new one.
We also ask that those who have means give generously to support friends and neighbors in the coming winter months. Now is the time to pull together as a community.
Job seekers are urged to visit the CareerCenter on the second floor at 91 Camden St. in Rockland. The center is run by the Maine Department of Labor. It can help provide training in job hunting, resume writing and preparing for job interviews. It also provides access to online job listings as well as training and education opportunities. Call 596-2600 or visit mainecareercenter.com.
If you are newly unemployed, especially if you have had the same job for a number of years, it is important to talk to CareerCenter counselors. The way resumes are organized and submitted has changed in the past few years. The old strategies of merely looking through the want ads and writing out a form resume may not work as well as looking into online listings and emailing a resume tailored to a particular employer.
Other resources include area food pantries and organizations:
Area Interfaith Outreach Food Pantry — 70 Thomaston St., Rockland, open Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, 9:30 a.m. to noon; 596-1043.
Thomaston Interchurch Fellowship Food Pantry — 246 Main St., second floor, Watts Hall, Thomaston, open Tuesdays and Thursdays, 9 to 11 a.m.; 354-6411.
Bread for The Journey, Warren Baptist Church — Main Street, Warren, Thursdays, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.; 832-1950.
Friendship-Cushing Food Pantry — Old Cushing Library, Townhouse Road, Friendship, second and third Saturdays, 9 to 11 a.m.; 832-9989.
Washington Food Pantry — 524 Waldoboro Road, Washington, second Wednesday, 9 to 11 a.m.; 845-2623.
Come Spring Food Pantry — Thompson Community Center, South Union Street, Union, second and fourth Wednesdays, 9:30 to 11 a.m.; 785-4730.
Episcopal Church - Loaves & Fishes Soup Kitchen — White Street, Rockland, Saturdays and Sundays, 12:30 to 1 p.m.; 594-8232.
Saint Bernard's Parish Hall Soup Kitchen — 150 Broadway Ave., Rockland, Mondays through Fridays, 11:30 a.m. to noon; 594-5428.
Salvation Army Food Pantry — 27 Payne Ave. (Route 1), Rockland, Mondays through Fridays, 9 a.m. to noon and 1 to 4 p.m.; 594-5326.
Camden Area Christian Food Pantry — 128 Mt. Battie St., Camden, Tuesdays, 8 to 11 a.m. and Thursdays 4 to 6 p.m.; 236-9790.
North Haven Food Pantry — 305 Main St., North Haven, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Mondays through Fridays; 867-4715.
Vinalhaven Food Pantry — Fire Station, Main Street, Vinalhaven, call as needed, 863-4824.
Waldoboro Food Pantry, Waldoboro Methodist Church — 93 Friendship St., Waldoboro, first and third Thursdays, 1 to 6 p.m.; 832-4743.
Foreclosure Prevention Hotline, free advice and assistance, 1-888-664-2569.