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SC nonprofit offering free assistance with unemployment claims

Affects of the coronavirus have led unemployment claims to rise to historic highs. The Palmetto Project is hoping to help fill the gap.

SOUTH CAROLINA, USA — A South Carolina nonprofit is hoping to bridge the gap in unemployment services by helping those in need get their claims approved.

People like Tracy Keener, a mom in the Upstate, who was laid-off from her hospitality job at the beginning of March.

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“How are we going to pay the bills?” Keener said.

She tried to apply for unemployment benefits through the state and soon discovered a new challenge. She says she couldn’t get through on the website and had trouble reaching someone over the phone.

“It’s like you’ve got to jump through so many hoops in order to get the prize,” she said. “Line gets picked-up. It’s an automated thing again and it’s saying, because of the volume of calls right now, we are not accepting phone calls, please call back at a later date.”

Affects of the coronavirus have led unemployment claims to rise to historic highs.

RELATED: SC unemployment claims fall for first time since coronavirus pandemic began

The Palmetto Project, a nonprofit that helps connect people to resources like healthcare and social services, is hoping to help meet the need.

“Well, this is not something that we usually do,” Shelli Quenga, their director of programs, said, “but we really recognized there was a gap out there in services, so we began helping people a week ago to submit the unemployment insurance application.”

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Those who don’t have a computer or are new to the process may find it difficult to navigate, so they’re providing free support to help submit their claims.

“A lot of concerns are from those people who simply have been unable to complete the application through their smart phone device,” Quenga said. “Other… questions are particular to their 1099 contractor, self-employed kind of status.”

Keener is still working through the process but says the additional help has given her a renewed sense of hope.

“Still haven’t gotten through it, but I’m working at it and so is she,” Keener said. “I probably wouldn’t be as far as I am now without her.”

Those interested in receiving help from the Palmetto Project can reach out to them at 888-998-4646 or 843-577-4122 Monday – Friday from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m or connect with them at Facebook.com/PalmettoProject.