FORT MYERS, Fla — Fox 4 is putting a lot of resources into a new project. We're joining a number of local organizations to put on the SWFL Virtual Job Fair. And when we asked our anchors and meteorologists to volunteer to help out, Eric Stone had a personal reason to step up.
"Sometimes you get in those moments, where you're like, what's my life going to add up to," Stone asked in an interview with Fox 4 Morning News Anchor, Chris Shaw.
For Eric, the moment lasted more than two years when he couldn't find a job.
His weather career started in the early 2000's. And he moved up in the business for a decade-and-a-half. But in 2016, a lot like the pandemic blindsided so many of us, Eric says he was suddenly laid off. He was not prepared for it. He had just signed a lease and he didn't have a resume, so he struggled to even start his search.
"And it seems like one thing led to another that was delaying the process, and the next thing you know, it's been a year since I've been out of work, and it's like wow, what am I going to do?"
He went back home for a while and eventually had to move into a spare bedroom at someone's house. At one point, he had applied for and had been turned down for 180 jobs.
"I'm thinking 'wow, what am I going to do?' Countless nights I would go out and pray, and say, 'should I get out of this? Should I forget this dream of what I love to do?'"
For Eric, the pain was deeper than just not having a job.
"I know first hand as somebody who lost a job and couldn't find a job, what kind of dignity, and purpose and value a job can give to somebody," Neil Volz with the Florida Rights Restoration Coalition, says.
FRRC is one of our partners for the SWFL Virtual Job Fair. Volz sees what we're doing, with Better Together and Cape Christian, as a second chance or a new start for some people. And that's why it's about support as much as it is jobs.
When you go to 'BetterTogetherUS.org' and sign up for the job fair, you'll also have a chance to get free, one-on-one job coaching as well as interview and resume help.
"And maybe I can offer some encouraging words to them and I hope that I can do that," Eric says.
Eric has signed up to be a job coach. In October of 2018, that 181st application got him back to doing what he loves to do, here at Fox 4.
Now he's driven to share his story. How he wrestled with doubt and found a way to keep his faith. And he wants to help you through this, even if it's just to say, you're not alone.
"I've always tried to make the best out of a bad situation, even if it's a devastating thing like losing your job and potentially your career. I just think the important concept is for people to focus on the positive and not the negative. Focus on what you have and what your potential is."