“How does someone explain to their child that they can have a place to live and maybe stay warm in the winter, but in order to do that they won’t have any food to eat? Or they can eat, but may not have a secure place to live? Just try to explain those adult decisions to a child and see how much they understand!”

Those are the thoughts of Toni Boughner in a note she sent to me back in April 2010. The similarity between April 2010 and December 2010 are numerous for Toni; unemployment extensions are again the issue of the day and she is still unemployed. One major difference is that now she is a 99er. 99ers are the unemployed who have exhausted the maximum weeks of unemployment benefits allowed in their state. In some states that maximum is 99 weeks, thus the name 99ers.

Toni is still searching for work and I asked her if she would write an update on her situation. What follows is some of her response:

It has taken a few weeks for me to work through my feelings in order write this update. I’ve been very lucky that my unemployment benefits were only stopped once since I lost my job on January 5, 2009. But my luck is running out quickly since my benefits end on November 30th. Even if the lame-duck Congress manages to pass the eligibility extensions, I will be a 99er December 11.

I was fortunate to receive a good severance package and I had some money in my 401k, although a huge chunk of it went to pay early withdrawal penalties. But all of that money was spent within months from paying bills.

The variety and depth of emotions I feel every day are incredible. Everything from joy in seeing the contentment on my cat’s face because she’s happy to be near me, to helplessness at not being able to fix my situation, to extreme anger that Congress and the President have deliberately turned their backs on this country’s massive humanitarian crisis.

My frustration level is so high that I cannot measure it. Intense boredom, loneliness and hopelessness are constant companions because I cannot contribute to the greater good through having a job and my skills are lying in a useless heap. I feel despair because I want to contribute to the economy and make charitable contributions rather than asking charities for help.

While I do not, and will never, advocate suicide for anyone, I understand where that decision comes from and why people feel that it is their only option. All of the talk about hanging on for better days ahead is worthless when one sees nothing but homelessness and starvation in the future.

I am also one of the millions facing foreclosure since I had problems paying the mortgage after losing my job. I bought my house during the height of the housing bubble and I recently discovered that my home loan is considered predatory and possibly fraudulent.

I attempted a HAMP modification but I was turned down because my only income was unemployment. A HUD-certified counselor gave me a budgeting plan which included advice to stop paying the mortgage and save that money for renting once foreclosure is finalized. It’s somewhat hilarious that HUD-certified counseling agencies are telling homeowners to stop paying their mortgages, but disturbing that they are siding with the banks and advising people to just accept losing their homes.

I am blessed to have an attorney who understands the foreclosure process and the frauds perpetrated by Wall Street banks due to their greed and avarice. Housing is somewhat low on my list of immediate worries as long as I can continue to pay my attorney and the monthly HOA assessments.

I’m trying to remain optimistic in the face of gathering doom, but I’m not sure that things will work out for the best.

It’s hard enough to talk about these things without breaking down completely. My friends and family have told me I’m courageous for being brutally honest about my situation, but none of this is my fault and I don’t see the need to remain quiet.

There are millions of people in this situation and government must work on creating a sensible economic plan to not only provide the right environment for job creation, but to be compassionate enough to also extend the lifeline that unemployment provides until those jobs come back, which could take more than five years.

Toni speaks for many long-term unemployed who have seen their confidence damaged, their savings and 401k diminished and their hope for a better future dashed by foreclosure, bankruptcy and in some cases homelessness.

I forwarded Toni’s contact information to NBC News who interviewed her this week.

Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Toni is diligently looking for a new job and I offered to post her resume, which can be seen below. Please contact Toni directly if you would like to help her in her job search.

Toni Boughner

Carol Stream, IL 60188



Dynamic professional with experience in project and fulfillment coordination and management will bring creative solutions to your needs. Additional experience in exhibit transportation and meeting planning who has a consistent record of achievement and increasing responsibility levels able to function effectively as an individual contributor and team member.



2008 – Present, Carol Stream, IL

Board President

Work with Board of Directors and Management Company to create goals and manage homeowner expectations

  • Set budget and assessments based on current and future community needs
  • Analyze vendor contracts to ensure they are being executed correctly
  • Direct management company on homeowner issues resolution
  • Develop and implement capital improvement plans
  • Attorney liaison for all legal issues


2002-2009, Elk Grove Village, IL

LTL and Trade Show Operations

Responsible for managing exhibit transportation and customer expectations while increasing multi-branch revenue

  • Created Trade Show Shipping Program for US branch network, including carrier and branch negotiations, customer quotes, tracking and problem resolution
  • Generated receivables over $750,000 with total company revenue over $200,000 for 2008
  • Managed pick-ups/deliveries for 350+ customers at 500+ shows annually
  • Created and taught “Tradeshow 101” course for customers and sales personnel
  • Created Operations Group to maximize efficiencies in processing customer reports and invoicing
  • Managed transportation, including dispatching, routing and quoting for restaurant supply company
  • Secured temporary staff when required, including contract negotiations


2000-2001, Oak Brook, IL

Operations and Fulfillment

Responsible for direction of meeting planning, project management, fulfillment activities, operational processes and purchasing in addition to managing a two person staff.

  • Managed temporary staff for business unit
  • Designed, implemented, and executed a variety of operational processes
  • Designed new fulfillment/mailroom center for three business units, including research, cost analysis, and lease negotiations
  • Negotiated venue and catering contracts, performed on-site and registration management in addition to post-seminar database maintenance for Retirement Planning seminar series
  • Key member of corporate office supply vendor and shipping committees



2010 – Present, Member


2009 – Present, Member


  • ACTHA Certified Leader – Association of Condominium, Townhouse and Homeowners Associations – May 2010
  • Six Sigma Green Belt Training – Chicago Deming Association-Six Sigma Masters Program – December 2009
  • “Third Party Logistics Company Streamlines Exhibit Transportation Services Through Successful Collaboration” – Tradeshow & Exhibit Manager Magazine, June/July 2005
  • Support Person of the Year – C.H. Robinson Worldwide, Inc. – 2005
  • Proficient in Microsoft Office and internet research
  • Carl Sandburg College – Marketing/Mid-Management

The November employment report showed that 6.3 million people have been unemployed for 6 months or longer. There are an estimated 4-5 million 99ers who become the forgotten unemployed, since they are no longer eligible for benefits. Congress needs to act quickly to help ALL unemployed and not just those who have yet to exhaust all benefits.

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6 Comments to “Unemployed 99er Toni Boughner is “Trying to Remain Optimistic in The Face of Gathering Doom””

  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Mario, Mike Thornton. Mike Thornton said: Unemployed 99er Toni Boughner is “trying to remain optimistic in the face of gathering doom” http://bit.ly/fiwBDL […]

  2. Barbara99er-GA says:


    We are in an emergency situation. You should be calling all of your representatives to complain about extending tax cuts for the wealthy and eliminating the 99ers from the extension of unemployment. Please go to the website — From the Trenches World Report and go to the Organized Resistance page and under Nationwide Rally to Extend Unemployment Insurance, leave your first name, state and the address of your unemployment office so we can organize active civil disobedience. This is our only hope. We have got to have enough people to form protest groups. I don’t understand why we are not getting stronger. We are not going to win by being silent and we are not being heard by our government. Please help me make this happen. We can do this.

  3. Donna Hawkes says:

    I lost my unemployment the beginning of December. No notice. Now my husband and myself have zero income coming in. We are about to lose electricity, phone, not to mention heat once electricity is shut off. My grandchildren won’t receive anything for Christmas, not to mention the rest of my family. I cried for 2 days/nights, couldn’t sleep for two nights. Now applying for anything, everything. Just to get up and keep going I have to remind myself Christmas is the celebration of Jesus’s birthday, which I am Catholic and believe in him. That’s the only thing that keeps me going.

  4. Leslie says:

    Iknow just how you feel – I have not slept in days and the impending doom is only worsened by the fact that you’re not the only one.

  5. Since the start of 2010, I have been traveling around the country with a team, conducting video interviews with Americans who are Over to and Out of Work. http://www.overfiftyandoutofwork.com/

    We have 54 video interviews online now, as well as video interviews with experts from the AARP, the Urban Institute, the Center for Retirement Research. Please take a look at our site.

  6. Steve Smith says:

    For Donna Hawkes and others out there who are in similar situations. If there is any way to provide at least some limited contact info (email or Facebook or similar page) so that someone out there who might can help, could contact you. As it stands now, they read your story, but that is all they can do. I think there are folks out there who want to help. Adding what kind of work you did in the past (husband and wife both, if that applies) would be helpful. I have just a small service business (22 years) in TN and would be happy to help someone in another area than mine start a similar business. Can’t even offer the idea to anyone if I have no way to contact them.

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