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Furloughed chef gets jobless benefits restored 72 hours after contacting News 6

Single dad says his mom told him to contact Make Ends Meet

ORLANDO, Fla. – Todd Henke said he contacted News 6 on the advice of his mother after he received just two unemployment checks since he was first furloughed on April 5.

“My mom is a big fan of yours,” Henke told News 6 investigator Mike Holfeld. “She’s the one who asked me to reach out to you.”

Henke lost his job as executive chef with the Stubborn Mule restaurant in Orlando and was recently told by coworkers not to expect to be rehired due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

“I don’t know if self-worth is the right term,” he said. “But it feels like my worth has gone down because it’s hard to find a job.”

On Friday, the DEO reported that the unemployment rate in the Orlando area was 15.3% in July, up 12 percentage points from one year ago.

The single father of an 8-year-old daughter said the sudden shut down of benefits was creating tremendous financial stress as his savings dwindle week by week.

“It’s definitely been tough,” he said during a Zoom interview from his home. “Especially being a single parent, it makes things a little challenging.”

DEO press secretary Paige Landrum told News 6 the staff was able to review the account listed as “eligible redetermined” and checks were deposited in his bank account last week.

In an email to News 6 she wrote, in part: ” Eligible redetermined means that a subsequent determination resulted in an eligible claim. We would appreciate if you could remind your viewers that while claimants may see the work search questions in their CONNECT account, Governor DeSantis has directed DEO to continue waiving the work search, work registration requirements and waiting week requirement for claimants through September 5, 2020. "

Finding a job in Central Florida’s restaurant industry will be an even greater challenge in the near future, according to Bankrate.com senior financial analyst Mark Hamrick.

“Jobs we previously regarded as temporary job losses are morphing into permanent job losses,” Hamrick said. “Unfortunately these spaces (chefs, restaurant managers) are going to be out of work for some time to come.”

Henke said he had already started looking for construction work to “shift” his search out of the restaurant landscape.

Hamrick said thousands of Americans will be forced to follow that path because “sustainable employment is not going to be in the same sectors.”

If you have an unemployment benefits issue, email us at makeendsmeet@wkmg.com

The DEO recommends these sites to help your request for benefits:

How to Request Benefit Payments Guide

How to Request Benefit Payments Video


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