The Face of Unemployment: Suffern Father of Four

Despite his concerns with how to pay for his kids' college in the near future, he's looking to reinvent himself and "plan for the better"


You read the stats and facts about the economy and layoffs quite frequently, but seeing the faces behind the numbers is another story.

Philip Fanara, 55, is a father of four. After 16 years as a project manager for AT&T Wireless, this Suffern resident was one of the many casualties when the company downsized.

“I lost my job in all these masses layoffs—surpluses they called them at the time,” he said. “I tried to get back into the company, I almost got back in (but) they kept letting more and more people go.”

Unemployment is new for Fanara. Before his full-time job overseeing AT&T’s security and drug prevention group, he worked in sales and marketing for ten years.

As with many who face unemployment, they reevaluate their paths and some look to reinvent themselves.

“I looked at myself and where I wanted to go,” he said.

When the Rockland County Guidance Center was defunded last year, that was the end of the center’s job club, which provided support for unemployed Rocklanders. One of the job club’s members, Fran Oldenburger, then founded the (RJN). Fanara was a part of the job club and is now on the executive board of the RJN.

“When (the job club) became defunded, we got together on our own to find ways to help each other look for work,” said Fanara. “It just made sense to bring this to other people since we had been talking with other people who have been unemployed. We’ve been growing and found that there are other groups similar to us.”

A very similar organization is Neighbors helping Neighbors, is free peer-led volunteer job search networking and support group, according to its website.

“At this point, (RJN) has helped my network grow tremendously,” said Fanara, adding that the RJN meetings keeps him on point with his job search and enjoys learning from guest speakers that visit the group’s meetings.

A common mistake among the unemployed is losing sight of their job search.

“(RJN) it keeps people accountable for what they need to do. When people get laid off, we get lazy and laidback and don’t keep on the course we need to stay on and can lose focus,” said Fanara, adding that he keeps himself busy in other ways than RJN.

He is involved by being an ASA umpire and a volunteer with VCS based in New City. He also coaches and managers little league and softball teams.

“I’m rethinking what I really want to do for a living,” he said, adding that he’s been actively applying to different jobs. “I’m trying to reinvent myself with my new skills of coaching and apply to coaching and teaching positions.”

“I’m trying to target companies that are strong in the market and look for a position within them,” he said of his strategy when he’s job hunting. “I’m also exploring different avenues.” One of the odd jobs he’s picked up to keep himself occupied during his unemployment is fixing up his parents’ home.  This opened up a new interest and door for Fanara.

“Since I did work at my folks’ house, I’ve been really interested. I’m very resourceful in taking care of these houses and fixing them up. I’m considering property management, real estate or becoming a landlord.

“I’m not focusing on one career anymore,” he added. “We need to diversify ourselves to make a decent living and support our families and extended families too. I need to make sure I cover all the bases.”

He added that he’s keeping his job hunt close to home because of his four children.

“It’s tough on the financial side, but emotionally too. We have to cut corners obviously and the vacations are zero to none. Any vacations we do have, they have to be day trips if we’re lucky.”

Fanara is originally from Queens, but has lived in Rockland most of his life. His children are ages 17, 15, 12 and 10, so one is heading off to college soon with the others not too far behind.

“I can’t tell you how concerned I am with college,” said Fanara. “I know they have the skill set to (go to college). How they’re going to do it, I’m not sure. As parents we try to reiterate our financial concerns to our kids. When things get a little better we can do the right thing and prepare.”

He added that although times have been rough, he and his family were not completely destroyed by his sudden unemployment.”

“I was one of those people who did prepare for situations that may happen and it did,” said Fanara. “I’m going to plan for the better and look at these things as lessons learned. We need to encourage more.”

Kelly Castel September 02, 2012 at 12:16 PM
Good luck Mr. Fanara, your positive outlook and optimistic spirit is admirable.
Mary Koshak September 02, 2012 at 12:23 PM
Good for you Mr. Fanara and I wish you luck in the future. It is important to keep on going.
Mike Hirsch September 02, 2012 at 01:41 PM
It is always much easier to look at events in hindsight. As Paul Ryan said at the RNC, President Obama should have used his first year in office to focus on job creation rather than healthcare. He got my vote the last time around. This time I'll vote for Romney.
Michael Zaretsky September 02, 2012 at 02:30 PM
Mike, actually Obama tried very hard to create jobs but the Republicans in congress voted these bills down - how about that
VinnyfromCongers September 02, 2012 at 04:05 PM
Obama had a democratic house and senate his first two years. He had a chance to get his agenda through, but HE blew it. He then took a "shellacking" in 2010. Stop whining.
Stephen J. Reich September 02, 2012 at 04:16 PM
Vinny, ever hear of "Fillibuster"? The Republicans decided to make sure Obama was not successful so they intentionally refused to find middle ground. This is fact. He never had the 60 votes to prevent a Fillibuster. The situation we are in was caused by the Republican party and the lack of a fast job bill has been the fault of the Republiczn party. Can't deny it. They are ruled by phanatics like Grover Norwuist that box them in corners on tax and social policy. It is against real democracy. We are being destroyed by minority interests such as the Tea Party which dictate policy to the majority using leverage. Majority rules is dead in our Democracy and will lead to the fall of society if it is not changed now.
Mary September 02, 2012 at 04:25 PM
Stephen...FYI...ever hear "and to the REPUBLIC for which it stands"? We are not a Democracy...there is a BIG DIFFERENCE... Republic vs. Democracy... "A Republic is representative government ruled by law (the Constitution). A democracy is direct government ruled by the majority (mob rule). A Republic recognizes the inalienable rights of individuals while democracies are only concerned with group wants or needs (the public good). http://www.c4cg.org/republic.htm
Mike Hirsch September 02, 2012 at 06:22 PM
Michael, I am not a fan of the House Republicans either, whose obstructionist methods have hurt our country, but the bottom line for me is Harry Truman's "the buck stops here" line. President Obama has been the leader of our country for the past four years. Granted, he inherited a mess from our worst and probably stupidest president ever, but it has been his job to turn things around. I agree with what Paul Ryan said "President Obama is not a bad man, he is a bad President", and what Mitt Romney said, "President Obama is not qualified for the job, as he has never run even a small business." As President, he is in charge of running the largest non-profit budget in the world. He does not have the experience to do so.. He is a very good and experienced politician. I would rather see a businessman in charge.
Michael Ruschak September 02, 2012 at 07:19 PM
When lizard man McConnnell explained to the world that the repuklicans job is to make Mr.Obama a one term President what did you think that meant? The refusal to compromise or even discuss the problems that face our country, in addition to signing some bogus "pledge" from a private citizen is treason to say the least. They pledged to the VOTERS and this COUNTRY FIRST!!!
GWashington September 02, 2012 at 11:35 PM
Michael Zaretsky - really? REALLY? Stop drinking the liberal media Kool-Aid. As VinnyfromCongers points out, this President focused all his ammo on HealthCare, and despite the outrage from the American public, shoved it down our throats. As Nancy Pelosi said "well, we have to pass this bill to find out what's in it." We ARE finding out what's in it and it's not FREE HEALTHCARE for the unwashed masses, as this president seems to view the citizens of this country. The insurance mandate is the largest tax ever levied on a public, in the history of THE WORLD. How do you think that will help job creation? This president gambled two years of control in three branches of the Federal Government all on crippling the common man by controlling his healthcare. "The German social insurance and health care system began in the 1880s under Bismarck. Ironically, it was part of Bismarck’s “anti-socialist” legislation, adopted under the theory that a little socialism would prevent the rise of a more virulent socialism." Bismark gave rise to the Third Reich and Hitler.
GWashington September 02, 2012 at 11:43 PM
Stephen J. Reich, The USA is a Democratic Republic and as such does not work under the rules of "majority rules." If you are looking to the special interest groups that sucked-up the socialist rhetoric on healthcare, look to the American Medical Association, a small group of doctors, minimally at best, representing the entire MD population in the USA, and the Pharmaceutical companies, who were promised monetary concessions for support of the bill. The Tea Party is not a minority interest, neither are they a political party, or a corporation but rather INDIVIDUAL CITIZENS from across the 50 states who joined together in a grass roots initiative to free the nation from socialism. Leverage? If housewives, retirees, war veterans, and people from every walk of life, marching on Washington, D.C. is leverage, than BRING IT ON. We will march again and again until this country is taken back from those who would "fundamentally change this nation."
Mike September 03, 2012 at 12:00 AM
How about this interview which Obama did shortly after being sworn in. He clearly states that if he does not improve economy as the responsibility was his, he shoud be a one term President. So, either he is now a liar or he admits he failed, no one else did, HE did, and does not deserve to be e rehired by the American voters. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6agoHtqu7lg&feature=youtube_gdata_player
Stephen J. Reich September 03, 2012 at 01:08 AM
Majority rule is the foundation. Minority rights and action is only "Pure" when exercised by men and women of honor who believe in the needs of all. The current Republican leadership is Facist, the Democratic leadership is Socialist, we need to respect and elect left and right leaning moderates. Obama is one. Richard Hanna in Comgress is another. Cuomo in Ny and Christie in NJ are two more. The corporate puppets Romney and Ryan are poison to this situation. Obama must win because he is the lesser of two evils.
Stephen J. Reich September 03, 2012 at 01:14 AM
Most of the housewives, and everyday people marching are blind fools who made a career and prospered due to moderate policy and government investment in infrastructure and technology. They got theirs so they blindly listen to The Romney's, Ryan's, Norquists, and Limbaughs of the world out of pure greed with very limited understanding of middle class structure theory and how it is the foundation of U.S. society survival and growth.
Rob September 03, 2012 at 03:53 AM
I get sad when I read stuff about anyone getting laid off. Good luck to you sir. I don't know you but all the best to you Mr. Philip Fanara. Your kids will be fine. When I was a kid, my parents made me save my money at a young age which went partly towards my college. I also took about a loan. My parents paid for about 1 year as this is all they could afford and I know many other kids who paid for it all. There is no law which says parents have to pay for their kids college. I laugh when I hear kids going to private school for 50 K per year to study elementary ed or communications.
John D. September 03, 2012 at 02:43 PM
Steven Reich - Your view is pretty condescending. People generally are able to figure out and do what is best for them. One of the biggest problems I have with President Obama and the Democratic Party in general is that they think people are fools who need to be told what to do by their betters.
Christopher Palacios September 24, 2012 at 12:10 AM
For two years the democrts held control of both houses and the presidency. Don't blame the republicans. He (BHO) was able to pass anything he wanted regardless of what Republicans thought. It's been about 8 months since BHO met with his jobs committee because of his fundraisers, celebrity parties and golf. BHO is clueless as president.
Christopher Palacios September 24, 2012 at 12:19 AM
He meant to save this country from BHO's goal of making the USA a socialist nation. GM is alive and Osama Bin Laden is dead but Al-Queda is alive and Ambassador Stevens and Brian Terry are dead.


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