Unemployed in New Hampshire: Cleaning business owner shares her story

  • The Unemployed States of America takes readers deep inside the decimated American workforce.
  • Gloria Castiglione is a 49-year-old cleaning business owner in Pelham, New Hampshire.
  • After building up a local clientele, she suddenly lost all of her business in a two-week span in March.
  • Castiglione says her family has been surviving thanks to her husband’s job at an essential business, but with four kids under the age of 16, she’s worried about providing for them.
  • This is her story, as told to Robin Catalano.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Before the pandemic, I had a residential cleaning business. It was something I did out of necessity, having three daughters and a stepson and needing something that worked with my availability. I was picking up speed, had lots of great recommendations on the town Facebook forum. I had a lot of work.

Within a two-week span in March, I went from having the busiest week of my career to people saying, ‘I think we’re going to put it on pause.’

As a self-employed person, I honestly didn’t think I was eligible for unemployment. I filed in mid-April, and when I got through, I said, “I haven’t been working since March 13. Can you guys help me out?” They backdated the claim, and I started getting checks within 10 days. It was a smooth process.

When the extra $600 stopped, the state put a page on the unemployment website with information about what we would be getting, when, and what to do. All the answers were right there, before you had a chance to think of questions. 

I have no complaints about the way New Hampshire has handled it. I feel like they were a little more “Wait and see how everyone else is affected, and then we’ll follow.” We definitely aren’t any sort of leader. That’s probably why we have some of the lowest COVID-19 cases in the country, because we’ve been shadowing other states. 

We’ve been coping very well. That’s been greatly reliant on my husband’s working throughout — he’s a general manager at a T-shirt printing facility, and they were deemed essential right off the bat. Our kids are under 16, and the only real difference is that we haven’t been doing as many vacations and things. Everyone’s been on their devices more, too. 

I’m a pretty optimistic person — I always have been.

I was probably the only person that was enjoying quarantine because I’d been working so hard and my body was sore by the end of the day. For me, this was a chance to reinvent myself. 

I have a few projects in the works. The other day I was making pet beds. I was also thinking about doing a podcast with some funny friends. But my passion is writing. I write the newsletter for the moms’ club in town. A few years ago, I started a blog called Mother Bleeper; it was my way of finding humor in the daily chaos. I would love to continue blogging — I just can’t do it for free. 

Everyone keeps saying that we’re in this together, but we’re in it so very differently from home to home. My future is uncertain and I am, in fact, nervous about it. I want to provide for my girls.

My biggest hope is that I will find myself better off on the other side. COVID-19 isn’t the end for me, but instead a beginning, and a big step that I wasn’t able to take before because I was so busy with my life. 

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