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Alicia Swanstrom / MEDILL

Dan Sullivan, former executive director of Resources For Living, an Evanston-based non-profit organization,was awarded a plaque for his efforts to place veterans in jobs.

Unemployment woes plague 9th Congressional District residents

by Alicia Swanstrom
Oct 09, 2012


Alicia Swanstrom / MEDILL

Now retired, Sullivan said, "It's the greatest thing in the world when you can get a person happy in their job."


Alicia Swanstrom / MEDILL

Sullivan frequents Resources For Living once a week where he still holds his old office.

Alicia Swanstrom / MEDILL

Sullivan wants to help combat unemployment by using his skills to place people in jobs.  Check out why he feels his services are needed more than ever.

There is no question that unemployment and local job creation were major issues on the minds of residents interviewed on the South Side of Evanston last week. 

“We need someone to find jobs for people who are unemployed,” said Mary Nelson, a 62-year-old former special-education teacher for Chicago Public Schools.

Another unemployed resident, Kevin Hokinson, 60, said he’s been “on a poverty diet,” since he lost his job as a bartender two years ago and had to result to food stamps -- something he said is embarrassing, but a reality.

The 9th District showed 9 percent unemployment in the 2011 American Community Survey, which was slightly above the national average of 8.9 percent for 2011.

Dan Sullivan, a 65-year-old Vietnam veteran, said he doesn’t believe politicians really care.

“More than 12 million people are out of work [nationally],” Sullivan said on the street and later in his office. “There needs to be some revival of opportunities. It’s time for a concerted effort, one that’s a little bit stronger than it has been in the community, and I think I can lead that charge.”

Sullivan placed people in jobs for more than 30 years through his non-profit organization, Resources For Living. The organization received state funding to offer training and other services to people out of work before finding a job for them in private companies. When funding for his programs was cut two years ago, Sullivan retired so the organization could use his salary to carry out its only remaining program that supports disabled people.

Now that he’s retired, Sullivan wants to help more than ever and needs funding to revitalize the organization.

“If [Resources For Living] could get funding, that would further along support for people who are in need,” said Sullivan. “It wouldn’t be a large funding request. I could do it if I had $12,000 a year, just that.”

He hasn't approached his congresswoman, but said he contacted other local officials without any results.

Sullivan is aware that U.S. Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-Chicago) has been a supporter of reducing unemployment. In 2011 she announced a bill, “Emergency Jobs to Restore the American Dream Act,” that outlined a plan to create 2.2 million jobs in the U.S. that would be paid with additional taxes from top earners.

“I understand she has a bill and wants jobs for firemen and maintenance workers, but I don’t know if government job creation is the answer,” Sullivan said.

During his time at Resources For Living, Sullivan said he placed over 20,000 people in jobs over 10 years, and he believes his efforts would turn people into taxpayers without using as many taxpayer dollars.

Tim Wolfe, the Republican challenger in the 9th District, is positive government job creation is not the answer.

“The key is getting government out of the way,” Wolfe said on Tuesday. “It’s a matter of creating an environment for the business community to create jobs by reducing taxes and simplifying the tax code.”

Schakowsky was unavailable for comment, but both candidates are expected to speak at a forum at 6:30 p.m. Oct. 15 at the B’nai Jehoshua Beth Elohim Congregation in Deerfield.