Furloughed federal worker volunteers to help others

Giving back is what Denice Dublin has been doing ever since the government shutdown began.

"You can stay at home and watch some news and become depressed or you can go out and use your time to give back," she said. "I have stressful dreams and I wake up restless and I wake up like it's a brand new day of insecurity. It's a horrible way to live."

Like hundreds of Long Islanders, Dublin is in the unfamiliar position of seeking help from food pantries like Island Harvest Food Bank. Instead of just receiving, she has been donating her time to help fellow furloughed workers.

"To know that it's actually helping my comrades, my fellow federal workers, it makes it more personal it brings it home," she said. "It makes me want to give my time."

But unfortunately, she has to watch how much time she gives. An airway transportation system specialist for the FAA, she is out two pay checks and had to dip into her life savings to stay afloat.

"It's a lot of choices now that we have to make. Do I pay the bill or do I buy groceries? At least knowing there's food here to supplement it's very helpful."

On Friday afternoon, President Donald Trump announced the temporary reopening of the government but didn't give a time table or details on back pay. Workers like Denice say it will take weeks and even months to get back on their feet.

"There's going to be plenty of catch up," she said. "Whether it'll take a month, three or six months I'm not only going to have to wait to get reimbursed but then I'm going to have to take time to rebuild my savings that I've been living off of for the past month."

Luckily the rise in demand from unpaid workers has been met with a rise in donations and volunteers. Close to 150 government employees picked up food on Friday.

Island Harvest President and CEO Randi Shubin Dresner said that people impacted by the shutdown are those who have in the past donated food.

"I'm glad we're here with them today but we're going to be with them until they don't need us anymore," Shubin Dresner said.