By: Taryn Schofield – March 10, 2019 http://longislandweekly.com/local-author-gives-voice-to-middle-income-midlife-residents/
For many years, Floral Park native Valentina Janek has championed for the middle-income, midlife residents on Long Island as the president and founder of the Long Island Breakfast Club, which provides positivity, advocacy, support and career counseling for these residents after they come out of the corporate world. Janek has continued her impact on the community with the publication of her novel From Fired to Freedom—How Life After the Big, Bad Boot Gave Me Wings, a compilation of stories from those who have turned the struggles of being laid off in the middle of their lives into positive outcomes.
“The book is separate from the club, but it was derived because of the club,” said Janek.
Janek herself has experience coming out of the corporate world and attempting to re-enter the workforce with too much experience, education and a cost of living that is not appealing to hiring companies. After being let go from her job as an administrative operations manager at CMP Media, Janek realized the challenges middle class, midlife individuals face if let go from their jobs. The creation of the Long Island Breakfast Club and the publication of this novel were the result.
“We help people who come on hard times and I was one of those people,” said Janek, who has funneled this passion into the growth of the club, which also provides networking, social-preneuring, mentoring and advocacy tips for its members.
Six years in the making, the novel From Fired to Freedom, is a collective compilation of accounts from individuals, members and friends of the Long Island Breakfast Club, who have received what Janek calls the “proverbial pink slip.” Aside from Janek, the 377-page novel is made up of accounts from 77 separate individuals and divided into sections comprised of funny interviews, positivity, facing reality, figuring out options, retirement, and experiences with former employers.
“I finished this book because of the treasured people that came on board with me,” explained Janek. “Even though you did get that boot, you can survive and you will.”
Janek hopes the accounts in the book will do more to spread awareness about the crisis faced by midlife residents in the middle class and the help the Long Island Breakfast Club can provide.
“This is a combination of people that get it,” said Janek. “You’re not alone, which is how you feel when you lose a job. The worst things in life are a job loss, personal loss and moving. Most of the stories in this book are very positive and everything has a silver lining.”
Janek’s biggest goal is to invoke motivation and inspiration.
“My biggest mantra is to tell people to get up, get dressed and show up, and that is what I will write in every book that I sign,” said Janek.
The novel will be for sale on Janek’s website and on Amazon. Moving forward, Janek looks to expand the Long Island Breakfast Club by commissioning a class on how to write a book, CPR training and continued networking and counseling.
“I want to be that person people want to hear to be positive and help others,” she said. “I want to explain to employees to be ready for the boot when it happens.”
Just four years after West Hempstead resident Valentina Janek helped launch the job-networking Long Island Breakfast Club in 2006, she was inspired to share the stories of people seeking employment after losing their jobs in middle age. Eventually, she started to take notes and compile those tales into a book. The Breakfast Club will have a special networking party for the book on Feb. 26.
Like many members of the Breakfast Club, Janek was laid off from her job. Thirteen years ago, she worked as an operations manager and chief morale officer for CMP Media. Janek realized that she was not alone, and that middle-aged people have a difficult time finding work
The new book, “From Fired to Freedom — How Life After the Big Bad Boot Gave Me Wings,” is a compilation of stories about middle-aged people who faced the struggles of losing their jobs, and how they moved forward from those experiences.
“The bottom line is this: The middle-aged are overlooked on Nassau County,” Janek said. “I’ve met with local politicians on this, but it’s still an issue that needs to be addressed.”
The organization provides employment and career counseling, workshops, interviewing classes and referrals, among other assistance, to help those seeking employment after losing jobs in middle age. The club also hosts meetings each month, which include sessions at which attendees can discuss job interviews and listen to motivational speeches. At their meeting in December, the club featured former Snapple spokeswoman Wendy Kaufman, once known as the Snapple Lady.
Now the club has roughly 50 members, including residents of both Nassau and Suffolk counties.
Janek, who wrote her first book, “In Love and Friendship,” in 2008, said that it brought her a new life. She said she hopes that through her book and her personal experiences, she can bring more awareness to middle-aged people who are looking for jobs.
“This is a very exciting for myself and the club,” Janek said. “I can’t wait to see how everything turns out.”
The event will take place at the Ethical Humanist Society of Long Island, at 38 Old Country Road in Garden City. There is a $20 fee per person.