Local federal employees furloughed during government shutdown offer domestic contract services

Local News

“We can’t work so let us work for you!” That’s the slogan of the Furlough Friends Helper Service’s Facebook page, which advertises a united front for federal workers currently unable to work at their regular jobs, so they’re offering to work odd jobs instead. 

It’s to make ends meet – pay bills, meet other financial responsibilities and to have a job to do using their other skills while they wait for the nation’s longest partial government shutdown to come to an end. 

“We’re members of the community as well, we want to earn our money.. to help eachother, it’s just great. It’s wonderful,” said Cheryle Ferris. 

The group offering basic domestic contract services like dog walking, running errands, cleaning, tax help, administration/clerical help, babysitting, shopping, party/event planning, decluttering and yard work starting at rates of $15 per hour. 

Ferris owns Ferris Forestry, a contract company with the U.S. Forest Service. She says learning about the opportunities provided by Furlough Friends gives her hope. 

Both Ferris and her husband, John, are not able to work through the government shutdown and will not be receiving back pay. The co-own Ferris Forrestry. 

“It’s a rough time to be told you can’t return to work without any knowledge to prepare for that,” said Ferris. 

Furlough Friends was started by field biologists and administrative personnel affected by the partial government shutdown, which began Dec. 22. 

“As long as we are furloughed we will help you out however we can,” states Furlough Friends Helper Service. “We have folks in Knox, Blount, Anderson, Sevier, Anderson counties!” 

Another federal employee out of work says she already has two jobs in the works through Furlough Friends. 

“We’re in this sitaution now where we don’t have any cashflow coming in or very little cashflow coming in because I’m the primary breadwinner for our family,” said Stacy Clark. 

Clark is a Research Forester with the U.S. Forestry Service. She holds three degrees in forestry, forest management, and plant science but says jobs like yard work will be a new challenge. 

“I really want to stay busy and not just sit around and do nothing. I’m really not that kind of person. I really wanna go back to work and stay busy,” said Clark. 

In the meantime, along with potential jobs setup through Furlough Friends, Clark and her husband have started selling fire wood locally. She says it keeps their minds off the shutdown. 

Both Clark and Ferris say they’re eager to get back to work fulltime. 

Requests and more information on Furlough Friends can be found by emailing: furloughfriends@gmail.com.

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