ASHLAND, Ore. -- Today Michelle Reilly, a biologist with years of experience, a Ph.D., and a recent promotion within the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service; will be doing odd jobs to make ends meet.
She's been furloughed for 27 days now. She's missed one paycheck so far and with the partial government shutdown continuing with no end in sight, she doesn't know when her next paycheck could come.
"It’s really undecided right now for what I should or what I can even do," explains Reilly, "I’m getting no direction because I can’t talk to my supervisors, we had to hand in all of our equipment. No one has any information I don’t know right now what to do."
Reilly is a single mother who has been with the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service for two years now, this is the first government shutdown she's ever had to deal with as a government employee.
"It’s not something that was really described in detail before the shutdown happened, unfortunately," says Reilly.
In October, Reilly was offered a promotion in Missoula, MT as a Wilderness Expert and she accepted the position.
"I was supposed to officially transfer over the end of December with the position here and start working full-time for the position in Missoula," explains Reilly.
Since she is relocating within the same agency, she was given the choice between two relocation packages.
"The option that I chose was a lump sum payment instead of getting reimbursed," explains Reilly, "It was a calculation through estimation and that paperwork was never finalized."
The government shutdown before her paperwork was processed so she has yet to receive her moving stipend, which was estimated at $6,000, a steep price to pay out of pocket when you don't know when you will see your next paycheck.
"I can move out of here and put all of my stuff in storage and foot the bill personally," explains Reilly, "then hope that the government reopens quickly but there are no guarantees."
It's not just the money that is placing her life on hold, her daughters’ school, her new home, and her new job are all up in the air right until the government reopens.
"I had been in contact with the school there in Missoula," says Reilly, talking about her young daughter, "I was supposed to visit her new school, meet the teachers, do all the paperwork and I’ve been in contact with them since I accepted the position to Missoula last November. Now, I told them I don’t know when I can bring her and they can’t hold a spot for a child that’s that has no anticipated arrival date."
Her home that she was scheduled to move in to is in the same position.
"I have my new home in Missoula that’s waiting for me and he said he’ll only hold it until February 1," says Reilly.
She will begin her new job once the government reopens but that is undetermined at this time and leaves a lot in limbo for families across the nation.
"Going so long without a paycheck especially for me because I’m single income family with my daughter going so long without a paycheck starts to get a little bit scary you know you have some reserve some in savings but it doesn’t last indefinitely," says Reilly, "I am fortunate, I had a little bit saved to cover the next month’s rent but you have car loans, you're thinking about groceries and utilities and how much longer is this going to go on and how am I going to make it. It starts to be very realistic concerns."
Reilly has reached out on Facebook asking for any odd-jobs that local community members might be able to hire her to do. If you would like to help you can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
You can also donate to help Reilly through a GoFundMe that was recently started to help her with upcoming expenses.