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Unemployed Hernando mother uses van as job search billboard

Shandi Schuler holds son, Brody, 2, while watching daughters, Hailey, 5, and Cloe, 3, at a local playground. “I’m desperate,” Schuler says. “I need a job to take care of my kids.”

WILL VRAGOVIC | Times

Shandi Schuler holds son, Brody, 2, while watching daughters, Hailey, 5, and Cloe, 3, at a local playground. “I’m desperate,” Schuler says. “I need a job to take care of my kids.”

SPRING HILL — Zipping along the streets in Hernando County these days you might catch sight of a white Ford Windstar, circa 2003, which also doubles as Shandi Schuler's mobile resume billboard.

Last weekend, after a lousy Thanksgiving in which her oven broke before the turkey was done, the unemployed single mom took her last remaining coins to the local Dollar General and purchased a bottle of white Kiwi leather shoe whitener.

She shook it, popped off the top, and composed a message in white shoe polish across the back window of her van: Single Mom of 3 NEEDS JOB! 352-263-4805.

"I had seen all these handwritten real estate signs polka-dotting Spring Hill," Schuler said. "I thought, forget it. I'm going to turn my car into a billboard."

On Wednesday, after a visit to the food pantry at First United Methodist Church of Spring Hill, Schuler, 26, stopped at a park where her young children could run and play while she discussed her job search.

"I'm desperate," she said. "I want to work. I need a job to take care of my kids."

Schuler, who is divorced from her children's father, worked most recently as a housekeeper in Hernando Beach, where she and her children live across the lawn from her employer in a guesthouse. They can stay in the guesthouse for a while, even though her former employer can no longer afford to keep her on as a housekeeper, she said.

As a housekeeper she cleaned, did laundry and prepared meals. Her recipe file includes meals such as Cajun chicken Alfredo, shepherd's pie, and her boss' favorite, homemade chicken soup.

To find work, Schuler visited the job assistance site Career Central in Spring Hill and applied for numerous jobs both on-line and at places like Publix, Target, Hess, and McDonald's. She has had followup interviews for clerical and day care jobs but so far no offers.

Family in the area help when they can, but these days everyone is strapped for cash.

In the meantime, with the holidays approaching and her money dwindling, she decided to place her own on-the-go ad to help with her job search.

So far, her phone hasn't rung. But earlier this week, while she filled her van's gas tank, someone offered to help pay for gas.

In addition to cooking and cleaning, Schuler has office and clerical experience. She has taken a nursing course and hopes to pursue more coursework in the future. For now she just wants a job, and she'll take just about anything.

"I can cook, clean, bake," she said. "I can do anything in an office setting, including clerical."

And with three kids ranging in age from 2 to 5, Schuler has experience with youngsters and can also work in child care, she said.

After a few minutes of playtime, her 5-year-old came by to show off her spelling skills.

"I can spell my name," she said. "H-A-I-L-E-Y." She smiled proudly and took a bite of a Granny Smith apple. She'd spotted it among the supplies her mom picked up at the food pantry.

"I come from a family of hardworking women," said Schuler. "It's scary when you have three people depending on you. But you do what you have to. You're a mom."

Shary Lyssy Marshall can be reached at [email protected]

Unemployed Hernando mother uses van as job search billboard 12/03/10 [Last modified: Friday, December 3, 2010 7:13pm]
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