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Artist gets unemployment payments after FOX 17 reaches out to UIA

Posted at 4:35 PM, Jul 15, 2021
and last updated 2021-07-15 22:40:34-04

MUSKEGON COUNTY, Mich. — An artist in Muskegon County finally has most of her unemployment money after talking with the FOX 17 Problem Solvers.

She got more than $15,000 in back pay shortly after we aired her story.

“And I kept checking and kept checking and finally I got some money in my account,” said Paula Johnson.

We first met her back in May.

She ran the Lakeshore School of Fine Arts in Norton Shores for more than 30 years. The artist filed for unemployment after the state forced her to shut down.

“I don’t think I would’ve gotten anything without Problem Solvers to be perfectly honest with you because I had been trying for over a year,” she said.

During that year she never got paid and every time she called the UIA she got a different answer.

“We talk to different people and they don’t know what they’re talking about, I swear they don’t know what they’re talking about,” Johnson said to FOX 17 in May. “We do send them ID, we do send them this, we do send them that, over and over and over again repeatedly through email through fax, through certified mail.”

With no money coming in she had to close her art studio for good.

Her clients with special needs– including those who were blind or had autism – were now displaced.

Paula waited more than 10 months for benefits but still no answers from the UIA.

“All I kept getting was circles,” she said. “Talked to so-and-so they don’t know anything. Talked to so-and-so they don’t know anything. I finally, you know, things started happening when FOX 17 came through and did whatever they do with their magical buttons or whatever.”

Paula was finally able to pay some bills and get new tires for her truck.

$16,000 was sent to her checking account after the FOX 17 Problem Solvers reached out to the agency.

“I think they’re great,” she said. “It’s a great opportunity for people to turn to somebody who can help when they are at the end of their rope. Everybody’s like, ‘Oh call Problem Solvers.’ I said ‘Nah' but then my nephew did and I’m really glad that he did.”

Paula tells us she’s still waiting for about $6,000 to $7,000 in benefits from this year but the UIA told her that’s still pending.

She’s still looking for a new location to reopen her art school.

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