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Las Cruces mother among thousands of bartenders forced to file for unemployment amid virus

rebecca o'brien
With the closure of bars across the state, Rebecca O'Brien was forced to apply for unemployment this past week.

LAS CRUCES, New Mexico - A week ago Rebecca O'Brien was an employed bartender relying on tips to feed her three children.

Within the week, she joined thousands of bartenders across the state forced to file for unemployment as New Mexico restricted restaurants to take-out only due to the coronavirus outbreak.

"It's really weird not going to work every day," O'Brien told ABC-7 over Facetime on Monday. "I miss it, without a doubt. Especially our regulars. That's what really kept us going, you know?"

O'Brien said she is grateful for the time off with her one-year-old, two-year-old and five-year-old children, but she wants to go back to her job of almost three years at the Game II.

"I'm just lucky that I worked for such a great company," O'Brien said.

Last week, owner Marci Dickerson helped all 140 of her employees from the Game I, the Game II, and Dickerson's Catering apply for unemployment.

"You have employees that you need to help take care of even though no income is coming in," Dickerson said. "Our gross revenue produced is basically 10 percent of what it was this time last year."

Dickerson also pledged $300 for her employees' April rent. Through her charity, Revolution 120, she secured a grant from an anonymous donor for utilities of service industry employees who have lost their jobs throughout the city.

"People's character shows when the chips are down," Dickerson said. "No matter how bad we think we have it, somebody has always got it worse."

On Monday afternoon, Dickerson donated $15,000 worth of groceries to help all of her employees.

"She promised that none of us and our families would go hungry," O'Brien said with a smile.

Dickerson is also offering kids' meals to families in need. Anyone can sponsor a meal for $2 at the Game I or the Game II in Las Cruces.

"When the money's flowing in and the economy's great, it's easy to help people," Dickerson said. "When we have people who literally run the risk of starving to death, that is really when it's important."

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Kate Bieri

Kate Bieri is a former ABC-7 New Mexico Mobile Newsroom reporter and weekend evening newscast anchor.


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