Living in uncertainty, making ends meet during COVID-19 pandemic

SPOKANE, Wash. — This is the third week in a row that initial unemployment claims in Spokane County are well above average.

Between March 29 and April 4, around 11,000 people filed for benefits. The week before that, more than 12,000 people filed. Consider in a typical week, that number is about 500.

For many of these thousands of people filing, it’s their first time experiencing the unemployment system.

Aubra Godwin is a substitute teacher for Spokane Public Schools. For the past few years she’s been able to guest teach almost every day of the school year, making enough to support herself.

“I never was concerned that I wouldn’t be able to teach on any given day. To go from that, to, I have nothing,” Godwin said.

The pandemic brought classes and those steady paychecks to a halt. She’ll still be paid for the last few days she worked. After that, she’s relying on that unemployment.

“It’s like the anticipation that is building in your gut of when is the shoe going to drop. Because I know in April my paycheck is going to go from like 18 days to four,” Godwin said.

Ms. G, as her students call her, often taught at elementary schools where she taught her kids the power of positivity. That’s what she’s practicing right now.

“Hey, you know what, I have my house, all my bills are paid for right now,” Godwin said.

Ms. G said during times like these, you can’t control much of what happens. You can choose how you handle it.

“I just have to remind myself to be patient. Just hope that everything will work out. I always tell the kids we can do hard things, and I’m going to do hard things. And it’ll be okay,” Godwin said.

Now, Ms. G is practicing what she preaches.

“I just want to shout out to all the kids that I miss teaching. Like, if if I could have an opportunity to tell all of them – I want to tell all the kids that I teach that Ms. G loves you and we can do hard things, and we can’t wait to see you back,” Godwin said.

Godwin is one of thousands in Spokane County navigating the unemployment system for the first time, joining an estimated 17 million unemployed Americans nationwide. If you’re among those filing new unemployment claims, the state is asking for your patience. With all those new filings, they’re just trying to keep up.

There are resources you can utilize, free of charge. Unemployment Law Project is offering free legal advice. You can call them at 509-624-9178, or you can visit their website HERE.