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Work picking up for this 'Face of Elkhart'

 

Image: Terry Grunyon

 

John Brecher / msnbc.com

 

Terry Gonyon in the kitchen of the eight-bedroom home he lost to foreclosure.

 

Terry Gonyon can’t explain exactly why jobs are picking up, but he’s not asking any questions.

“Usually, October starts to slow down,” said the jack-of-all-trades who specializes in drywall hanging and finishing, one of the "Faces of Elkhart" being profiled by msnbc.com. “Things are kind of looking up.”

In the middle of one of the area’s worst economic downturns ever, a number of county residents have decided to spruce up their bathrooms. Gonyon has had four jobs in a row to install new wallboard in remodeled bathrooms. For the first time in months, he is booking jobs a week or more in advance – although most are still just a day here or two days there.

“As long as people keep spending, I’ll keep working,” he said, exuding the same even-keeled demeanor that has seen him through a two-thirds cut in take-home pay over the last two years and the loss of the family’s huge brick home to foreclosure, which were the focus of previous stories in The Elkhart Project.

Gonyon, 38, and his wife, Desiree, 28, are still living with six of their nine children in the Bristol mobile home they moved into last spring after their mortgage lender reclaimed their Elkhart home.

As work has begun picking up, there have been other bright spots, including the birth of his first grandchild, Nathan, in late August. And the children, who were forced to change schools when the family moved, are doing very well.

"We just had parent-teacher conferences,” Gonyon said. “We got all good remarks about all the children and all good grades.”

He’s especially proud of daughter Allison, 17, who is on her school’s high honor roll. He wishes times were better so he could get her a special reward.

“I feel like a bad parent because I can’t do anything for her,” he said. “She has a car but we can’t afford to plate it.”