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UI Advocate Suzy Young Hired As Food AND Medicine Peer Workforce Navigator

Andy O’Brien
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Suzy Young of Winterport was recently hired by Food AND Medicine in Brewer to be the first Peer Workforce Navigator to help Maine workers access good jobs, apprenticeship and training programs, unemployment benefits, and other supports.  Suzy won last year’s Maine AFL-CIO “President’s Award" at our Biennial Convention for stepping up and committing so much time, energy and passion to help laid off workers access unemployment benefits during the pandemic through our Unemployment Assistance Group.

Suzy has done this work on a volunteer basis since 2020. After joining a Facebook group for unemployment (UI) support, she quickly became the group's go-to resource for UI questions. The Maine AFL-CIO hired Suzy in May 2021 to work part time on UI support and to participate in the Coalition, and awarded Suzy their 2021 President's Award for her tireless efforts and tremendous impact on the people she assists. Food AND Medicine (FAM) hired Suzy part time in fall 2021 to support Solidarity Harvest.

The Peer Workforce Navigator program was developed by our coalition and House Speaker Ryan Fecteau in 2021 as part of legislation to overhaul Maine’s unemployment system in the wake of unemployment problems at the beginning of the pandemic.

In February, Maine AFL-CIO won a grant from the Maine Department of Labor to implement a Peer Workforce Navigator program to support Maine workers accessing good jobs and apprenticeships, connecting to needed supports like childcare or housing and navigating unemployment insurance. The Maine AFL-CIO, Food AND Medicine, Maine Equal Justice, Prosperity Maine and Gateway Community Services are working together and will be hiring navigators for the two year duration of the pilot program. 

People needing assistance seeking good union jobs or training programs or with the Unemployment process, or other resources can reach Suzy at, or directly at 207-505-6436.