‘My wits’ end’: Local mom talks about unemployment struggle amid coronavirus crisis

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ALAMANCE COUNTY, N.C. — Hopelessness and desperation is building in homes all across the Triad.

FOX8 has taken dozens of calls and received hundreds of emails from viewers expressing the pain people feel as they fight for unemployment benefits.

As a member of the Department of Commerce admits, what’s happening in the system isn’t right.

Stacy Bailey had her dream career in the restaurant business and worked hard for everything in her life.

When the restaurant was forced to close, and she was let go on March 23, she realized how much life could change in an instant.

“I came to my wits’ end and I just started crying,” Bailey said.

She’s frustrated, as she tries to figure out how to care for her family without a job.

It’s a problem hundreds of thousands of people in North Carolina are facing.

All of them are calling one number and logging on to one website for assistance.

“We know that a lot of people have had problems accessing our system, or getting through on our phones. This is not acceptable,” said Lockhart Taylor, the assistant secretary of the state Department of Commerce. “We understand that for the people who have lost their job, the help can’t get there soon enough.”

“You can sit on the phone for two hours and then it just hangs up on you,” Bailey said.

She feels disconnected, as her life unravels before her eyes.

“I’ve already lost all of my insurances. I’ve lost my dental. I’ve lost my vision. I’ve lost my orthodontists — and my son is in braces,” Bailey said. “I’ve lost my life insurance.”

And she’s lost her paychecks.

“I don’t want to sit at home. I want to work. I lost my family, I lost my career of 20 years,” said Bailey, with tears in her eyes. “Where am I gonna go? What am I gonna do? I have to start all over, for what? Why?”

A life now in limbo that used to be stable.

“We’re just waking up every day wondering what’s going to happen today. [We’re] just hoping there’s some light at the end of the tunnel,” she said.

As Bailey looks for new ways to pay the bills, she sees a lesson in all of this struggle.

“Life will throw you obstacles, but you’ve got to pick your head up and keep moving forward,” she said.

But moving forward isn’t easy, Bailey said, when help is hard to find.

“It’s nobody’s fault. You can’t blame anyone,” she said.

Bailey spent about a week trying to officially file for unemployment benefits.

On Thursday, it was announced 350 people will be hired to help process the influx of claims, as North Carolina officials work to modify the system to handle more calls.

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