Five Ways to Really Help Someone Who’s Been Laid Off

Downtown Chicago. Photo credit: my husband
Downtown Chicago. Photo credit: my husband

With the unemployment rate in Calgary hovering around 8.5%, lots of people are looking for work, including myself and my husband.  This is not a place either of us, at this time in our lives (we are in our 50’s) would have ever thought we’d find ourselves.

What’s said and done by family and friends, while well-meaning,  are often less than helpful.  Advice-giving, sending public job postings from various job search websites, not taking the time to really understand what type of job the person is looking for, or even what they do for a living, and saying things like “I don’t understand why he / she can’t find a job”, are all examples of things that don’t help.

Here are five things that might:

  1.  Take the person who’s been laid off out for coffee.  This is likely a treat they have cut back on to save money.  Being at home and unemployed is isolating.
  2. Ask the person exactly what they do for a living, what type of job they are looking for, and keep your ear to the ground for upcoming opportunities in your company – or other companies and people you are connected with –  before they are published on Workopolis, Indeed, or other job search websites.
  3. Give them a gift card for a movie or a restaurant.  Again, this is something that the one who’s laid off hasn’t been doing to save money.
  4. Think of any projects you have on the go at your home that you could hire your friend or family member to help with such as lawn care, snow removal, renovations, etc.
  5. Now that summer is here and the kids are out of school, child care to attend interviews, networking events, job fairs, etc. could be difficult to obtain and / or costly. If able to, offer to provide child care gratis so those seeking employment can attend important events.

I daresay any of the items on this list would make a real difference to your laid off friend or family member.  I know they would to us.

Staying Fit While On The Road (In Your RV)



No need to pay drop in fees at the gym while you’re on the road in your RV.  With a few simple pieces of equipment you can continue your workouts in your RV, or outside at your site, if the weather’s favorable.

I brought some hand weights, resistance elastic bands, and a small ball along with us on our 30 day road trip. I also brought some workouts that were RV-friendly.

The elastic I threw over the bathroom door and put my hands through the handles. Pulling down with straight arms, I was able to do lat pulldowns.  Pulling down with  arms bent at the elbows and held close to my sides, I was able to work my triceps.

This elastic is a pretty versatile piece of exercise equipment.  By sitting down, legs extended, and looping the elastic over the bottom of my shoes and pulling it towards me, I was able to work the back of my shoulders (seated row).  Standing and stepping on the elastic, while holding the elastic in either hand, I was able to work the side of my legs by stepping sideways several times; e.g. step sideways in one direction 8 times, then back 8 times (which is one set) then do that 8 times total. (Not my favorite exercise).

Using the hand weights, I was able to do bicep curls and rotator cuff exercises.  I was able to do squats and arm work simultaneously by holding the weights in either hand and raising my arms to the side, front, or back, at the same time as I performed the squat.

Using no weights, or elastic, I lay on my side, legs extended, and did side leg lifts.  Flipping over on to my front, and positioning myself such that my upper body was raised with my hands flat on the floor, I was able to lift and lower my legs towards the ceiling with bent knee to work my glutes.   Similar to this video except upper body was raised:


Simple wall push-ups or floor push-ups work the pec area.

Using the small ball, which can be purchased cheaply at a dollar store, I worked my lower abdominals by lying on my back, with my legs drawn toward me and feet on the floor. I placed the ball between my knees and squeezed the ball.  Regular crunches work the side and middle abs.

To combat neck and shoulder tension, I lowered my shoulders several times. Another exercise that’s good for shoulder tension is to retract shoulder blades together (all that is required for that exercise is to pull your arms back, keeping them bent and at chest height).

Add in some walking, biking, or hiking for cardio and the fitness bases are covered.

The last days of our trip were some long hours of driving.  To combat stiffness I did what I termed “car aerobics”. I’m sure the other people on the road thought I’d lost it, but, in time to the music, I would move my arms out to the front, sideways, overhead, and I’d get my legs going too, moving them side to side or extending and pulling them towards me.

*Check with your doctor first before attempting these or other exercises. I’m not a fitness professional, just someone who likes to exercise.  Now, I’m off to my next home workout.



A friend of ours, while we were visiting him, invited a stranger into his home to stay while she figured out her next move.  This lady, who called herself Dana, had been on a cross-country tour by foot for at least a year. Essentially, she was homeless and, perhaps, on the run from the evil in her past. We had the opportunity to meet Dana and found her to be charming, intelligent, and well-spoken. A vegan, she enjoyed cooking and cooked the four of us a wonderful Thai-inspired meal.

Dana, wearing a hoodie inside our friends home with the hood up (which, to me, is a classic form of  self-protection), was understandably guarded around us. However, she became relaxed enough around our friend to remove her hoodie and open up to him a bit about her abusive past.  Dana, unfortunately, also demonstrated some mental health issues, in the form of extreme paranoia.  Did you know a large percentage of the homeless population are homeless due to mental illness?

We commended our friend on housing Dana; she stayed with him a week.  He wasn’t afraid to “get his hands dirty” helping someone.  We also appreciated getting to know her a little bit; someone who, due to her homelessness, I may have been nervous enough about encountering to cross to the other side of the street to avoid rather than engage.

My friend’s parents, on the other hand, weren’t so happy with my friend taking her in.  My friend’s parents are more comfortable addressing problems such as mental illness and homelessness by making monetary donations rather than one-to-one assistance such as my friend provided.

What is the appropriate response to someone in Dana’s situation? As Christians? As fellow human beings?   Sure, there’s personal risk involved (which is what my friend’s parent were worried about) in doing something like taking in a “Dana” versus throwing money at the problem.

My friend inspired and motivated me! On our recent road trip, a vanful of young people had ran out of gas and were at the gas station fundraising.  I convinced my husband that we could buy them a $25 gas station gift card.

Matthew 25:40 New International Version (NIV)

40 “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’