Some Department of Labor grants are helping the unemployed kick-start a new career. NY1's Asa Aarons filed the following report.
David Alperin, owner of the Goose Barnacle in Brooklyn Heights, doesn't need a holiday to be thankful. Alperin says each morning he opens the store, he is grateful for the opportunity to be working at something he loves.
But amidst those blessings there have been some challenges.
“I had a great, successful career for about six years in banking and when the downturn happened, my department was let go from Citi Bank,” Alperin says.
He says he found no opportunities at other banks, and so it came time to make a life decision. He told a counselor at the New York State Department of Labor about a new direction he was thinking of going with his life.
“I told him about this idea I had to go back to art school and open a store and follow this passion I’ve always had in fashion and design,” recalls Alperin. “And he said, we have this grant money in place for people in your position,” recalls Alperin.
The money came from a National Emergency Grant, which is awarded by the United States Department of
Labor to cover tuition, job training and educational courses for people who lost careers in the financial sector.
Alperin is part of the NEG grant was just over $12,000. He put it to good use in art and design classes at the Fashion Institute of Technology. The result is Goose Barnacle, a store that combines clothing, jewelry, fashion eye wear and original art.
Family and friends are helping with the project. In fact, Alperin’s sister brings her own expertise as a jewelry designer and business owner.
“I couldn’t be happier having my own business,” says jewelry store owner Marissa Alperin. “It’s been eight years and it keeps growing every year. It’s really exciting to see my brother do the same.”
The New York State DOL reports other success stories from the NEG grants. While that program has expired, there is another still available called the Self-Employment Assistant Program, which helps the unemployed by allowing them to start a business while still collecting unemployment insurance for a short, structured period of time.
To find out more about these grants, go to labor.ny.gov.
Alperin’s advice to anyone stung by the economy.
“Figure out what it is you love to do and then find a way to make that a job,” he says.