Single mother given $300, restaurant gift card after being impacted by pandemic

Single mother given $300, restaurant gift card after being impacted by pandemic

RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - A single mother of two and a personal assistant for a salon owner who became unemployed during the pandemic was struggling to get unemployment assistance.

Victoria Surface says she applied but got no response.

"I reapplied again and I never received any documentation in the mail. I was on the phone for hours, calling from two different phones but I kept getting the same thing. There should be something in a place where we can at least get some type of answer,” says Surface.

It turns out there were some issues with Victoria’s mailing address. Now, she’s working with the Virginia Employment Commission to apply for the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance.

Nevertheless, the wait times to speak to someone on the phone can be long. A spokesperson for the Employment Commission says they’ve added several features to help.

In March, they had 82 staff members but that number is now up to 544. All four call centers are taking 600,000 calls a week, and they’ve updated the call center capacity by allowing more people to sit in the queue and wait for assistance instead of getting hung up on.

VEC has also created a separate department within the central office, primarily out of Richmond, replying only to e-mails.

Lastly, additional hearing officers are reviewing appeals, all in an effort to help.

"I’m finally getting answers and getting somewhere, which is giving me a little more hope than I had. I was kind of at a dead-end rope with nothing to lean on,” says Surface.

NBC12 wanted to give Surface a little boost until she can get back on her feet, so she was surprised with our “Acts of Kindness,” giving her $300 and a gift card to Mexico Restaurant.

"I could do a lot for my kids with $300, the essentials, diapers, food,” says Surface.

Copyright 2020 WWBT. All rights reserved.