Of the millions of Americans thrown into turmoil by the recession, one Long Island dad has come through with a harrowing tale. One moment he had a comfortable suburban life, the next he was on the brink, struggling to keep a roof over his head. Now this very grateful New Yorker is on the rebound.
Seth Salwen survived a trauma that changed him forever.
“When you pass the year mark, it's devastating.”
In 2008, he was laid off from his job in pharmaceutical sales. He thought he'd find work within weeks, but more than a year later, he was still looking and had burned through his savings. Even his 9-year old son knew the family was in crisis.
“He'd get $5 from nana and papa and he'd come in to me and say ‘dad, will this help us?’ Things like that - they kill you, they kill you.”
Salwen fell behind on his mortgage, lost his car and one day he got home just as the electric company had arrived to pull the plug.
By then, he had turned to a local charity for support. The UJA paid the power bill and helped negotiate lower mortgage payments. Salwen found work at a loading dock, where he took on double shifts.
“I had friends say to me, I love you but I can't be around this because it could happen to me tomorrow,” he said. “And I said ‘it's not a disease. I’m not contagious. I was laid off and I'll be working again.’”
He played in a band to keep up his spirits, and finally earlier this year, Salwen landed a sales job and began to rebuild his life.
“It just makes you appreciate everything so much, so much more to have taken the rough road,” Salwen said. “Now I can put the top down. Now I can enjoy the sun and enjoy the ride.”
The memories still sting, but Salwen says his rebound should inspire other job hunters not to give up hope.
Salwen was one of the top salesmen at his company when he was laid off. He never thought it would happen to him.