Yoli Rollins started working for Heritage Plaza Mortgage in Stockton in 2004. The loan processor was amazed at the lavish parties her company threw for its employees at Wine & Roses resort in Lodi, with large spreads of food, lots of booze and exquisite floral centerpieces.
On top of her regular salary, Rollins often would receive bonuses of $1,000 a month. Then business started slowing down in August 2006. By Christmas, Rollins was seriously concerned. Few loans were coming across her desk, and the company had initiated several rounds of layoffs, leaving only a few key personnel.
In March, the vice president called the remaining employees into a conference room and announced that the mortgage company, which at its height had processed hundreds of millions of dollars in loans, was shutting down.
Rollins, 53, had worked in the banking and mortgage industry for decades, and received a few job offers from former colleagues working in other offices. But she declined.
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"I didn't want to go back to mortgage. At this age, you want stability," Rollins said. She is enrolled in a three-month computer training program at Community Business College in Modesto, which is funded by the state to offer free tuition to people who are unemployed.
She has an accounting degree and hopes that updating her computer skills will help her land a job at a hospital or with the government -- someplace where she knows she can stay until she retires.
"I want to stay in one place," Rollins said. "I don't want to risk being laid off again."
-- Christina Salerno