LONG ISLAND - Photos bring back warm memories and signs of hope from meetings with The Breakfast Club - a group founded by Valentina Janek in 2008 to gather people who she says were too old and too experienced to land jobs. Together they share stories of struggles and success while offering support.
“The Breakfast Club is a group of concerned individual people on Long Island that have lost jobs, that have businesses, that have products, that just do for each other because together we make it happen,” Janek said.
The group of about 100 members spoke regularly and met monthly. But with social distancing rules in effect due to COVID-19 they now virtually meet from home.
Janek, an author, coach and self-described socialpreneur says for many employees this may become the new normal.
The majority of members are finding more success in freelance work.
“Because you're your own boss, you work from home and you're responsible for yourself,” she said.
After Chris Fidis lost his corporate job in 2012 he reinvented himself as a freelance consultant.
“The Breakfast Club helps you express not in a religious way, but in a conversational way be inspired,” Fidis said
His story one of 79 Long Islanders featured in Janek's book From Fired to Freedom.
”Reading my book will help every individual that's either out of work, in a crisis, needs a change, doesn't know what to do when they retire or just wants to have fun,” Janek said.
Stephanie Carlino's story is also published in the book. She met Janek and Fidis through The Breakfast Club. They were all vying for and getting rejected from the same jobs.
”There's an outlet certainly, friendship, networking, community involvement, giving back. It's a lifestyle actually,” Carlino said.
With unemployment numbers at an all time high, Janek encourages everyone, no matter what age to join.