“I don’t know how I’m going to feed my kids”: Topeka woman desperate for help after coronavirus layoffs


TOPEKA, Kan. (KSNT) – Thousands of Kansans are without jobs because of the coronavirus pandemic and the state is trying to keep up with all the unemployment calls. One local woman can’t get through to them, and it’s putting her in a desperate situation.

After years of working at the Residence Inn in Topeka, coronavirus concerns left Donna Mellott unemployed.

“We all got pulled into a room and told we were getting laid off,” Mellott said.

She did what millions of Americans do in a pinch.

“Since last Wednesday I’ve been trying to file unemployment,” Mellott said.

Mellott said she’s run into problems online, dealt with hours of listening to a busy signal over the phone, and even tried to go into the Kansas Department of Labor in person.

“However it’s not getting me anywhere. It’s not,” Mellott said.

As a single mother of four, that puts Donna in a desperate position.

“I’m lost. I don’t know what to do. I don’t know how I’m going to feed my kids right now,” Mellott said, “It’s sad, but I don’t.”

She’s not alone. The Kansas Department of Labor said Tuesday alone they got over 211,000 calls. But they were only able to address about 1,400 of them.

Kansas Department of Labor Secretary Delia Garcia said they’re working hard to try and help more Kansans.

“We have doubled our staff literally over the weekend, and exploring all options to make sure we can help you all at home,” Garcia said.

For now, Donna Mellott is left in a tough position.

“I sit here and I cry every night not knowing what to do. It’s all up in the air right now,” Mellott said.

She says she has gotten help from friends and community groups, which makes her feel hopeful for the future.

“Together we can fight this. Help the next neighbor out. If the neighbor needs it, help them out, lend a helping hand,” Mellott said. “We are Americans and we can get through this epidemic if we work together.”

The Kansas Department of Labor said the best way to file for unemployment is online. If you’re calling them, the most important thing is to stay on the phone. They suggest not hanging up and just waiting as long as it takes to get through so they can help you out.

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