Rebounding in tough times

Twelve months was all it took for Oregon's unemployment rate to double.

Two months was all it took for Delaine Due to lose both of her jobs.

For nearly a decade, Due worked with troubled youths at the Juvenile Justice Center in Grants Pass, while teaching an art therapy course at Southern Oregon University. But in December the Oregon Youth Authority, faced with a shrinking budget, opted not to renew her contract, and Due lost her job.

"I thought, 'Okay, I can recover from that pretty easily,'" she said. "Then I got a call about the teaching, and I was a little freaked out."

The call from the SOU psychology department came in February. It was to inform her art therapy class was being shelved due to budget constraints. Just two months after she lost her contract with OYA, Due was down another job. But unlike most in her situation, she had a fallback, and it had been in her home since she was two years old.

Shaklee Corporation sells environmentally friendly home products and nutritional supplements. Since 1956, its growth as a company has been attributed to a unique, multilevel marketing strategy, which "employs" Shaklee users by having them sell products, or recruit new salespeople. Each member essentially has his or her own independent Shaklee business under this model.

Which is just how her parents found themselves able to pass the business on to their daughter. Due inherited her mother's stake in the business in 2006, and began receiving a $2,000 monthly bonus check from Shaklee.

"Her bonus check was more than I was making," she said.

In December — the same month she lost her first job — Due earned more than $4,000 "working maybe 15 to 20 hours a week on my Shaklee business," she said. Those earnings rose to $5,000 in January and, by the time she lost her second job in February, it had surpassed $5,600. She recouped her lost income, and has more time to spend with her six-year-old son, Jack.

Now she is working from home, setting her own hours and scheduling clients around Jack's babysitting schedule. She hosts training sessions out of her home, where residents like Kyndra Laughery are learning how to create income through the Shaklee business.

"I'd like to be able to be home with my kid, do the social work that I like to do and not make money the stress," Laughery said at one meeting. "I'd like to be able to provide a good life for my family." Laughery seeks the financial independence that Due has been able to achieve — transitioning from underpaid public service to stay-at-home-success.

Due stayed on strong footing when the recession took two jobs from her in one season, building a lasting source of income through her devotion to the Shaklee business.

"Peoples' health and wellness is important. If somebody has some kind of nutritional program that works for them and it keeps them able to function, that's not the first thing they want to let go of when they're cutting costs," Due said.

An investment in physical health has, for the time being, ensured her financial health. Due hopes to keep building her business. Then she will follow in her parents' footsteps, by passing her savings to her son.

"This I can transfer to him," she said, "so it creates generational wealth. I'm not a trust fund baby, so that's really a nice thing to know."

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