After a two-year hiatus, the Long Island Breakfast Club is set to relaunch with a fresh menu. The club formed in 2006 when five middle-aged, unemployed Long Island residents got inspired to help people find jobs. The group, which included three West Hempstead residents at the time, held weekly breakfast meetings at a diner, where they discussed ways to help people over 40 find work.
“We’re going to still help people that are out of work, but we’re going to relaunch and become social entrepreneurs,” said Valentina Janek, one of the club’s founders and its current president. “It’s all about turning a negative into a positive.”
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.
The club has roughly 50 members, including residents of both Nassau and Suffolk counties. Co-founder Chris Fidis said that one of the group’s goals is changing the mindset of people who are unemployed.
“You’re never unemployed. You’re either self-employed or you’re employed,” Fidis said. “If you have that type of outlook, it gives you a better chance of finding a job.”
Fidis added that during their meetings, the group discusses some of the emotional issues jobless people deal with. “We’ve said at many of our meetings that karma will follow you,” he said. “What you do today will follow you throughout your career, and you will be tested. It’s all about staying positive.”
Part of the Long Island Breakfast Club’s initiatives is finding ways to connect and give back to the community. The group has donated over $25,000 to charity in the past 13 years.
The group currently has a fundraiser with students at West Hempstead High School, where they collect gum, breath mints and socks to support veterans for Operation Gratitude, a nonprofit organization that gathers supplies for veterans and first responders. Janek said that through the fundraiser, students can earn community service credits.
“Making a difference in the community is something that we’ve always wanted to do,” said Stephanie Carlino, another group co-founder. “Now we want to let people know that we’re still here, and we’re willing to take on initiatives to improve as many lives as we can.”
The group recently partnered with QS2 Training and Consulting, which specializes in babysitting training, basic first aid and CPR. QS2, which recently opened an office in Baldwin, is their first partner since their hiatus. Janek said that through such groups, the club expands its outreach into the community.
The Long Island Breakfast Club will hold a ribbon-cutting ceremony to kick off its relaunch at Deli & a Hole Lot More in Garden City on Saturday at 8:30 a.m.
“The karma with this club has always been great,” Janek said. “Even if a new member comes and they’re inexperienced, we want to work with them and provide them tools to grow.”
For more information on the club, go to www.longislandbreakfastclub.org.