After John Fugazzie was laid off from his job in 2010, he began the search for a new that so many have been forced to endure during this economic downturn.

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While Fugazzie figured out how to make ends meet, he grew dejected at the lonely feel of the process, especially as online applications vanished into black holes. This was combined with building stress and mounting bills with no light at the end of the tunnel.

Once a local job seekers meeting fell by the wayside in River Edge, he decided to take action, launching a concept along the same lines, but with better execution. He started what is, essentially, a support group for job seekers called Neighbors Helping Neighbors.

The group held their first meeting in January 2011 with 5 members attending that first session. The concept was for attendees to share networks, resources, ideas, while staying accountable for their job search. It also eliminated that lonely feel of the job hunt.

"And it's really each of the members, who come to the meeting, who are paying forward to all these other members their network, their suggestions, what they've learned through their job search," Fugazzie explained.

The free weekly library-based meetings were designed to help each other out through honest feedback.

"Our mission is to get people back to work, and to teach them what they need to be able to land a job," he explained.

Word spread like wildfire about the group, and that original group program has expanded into 25 New Jersey towns, and even 1 in Boston. They all follow the original blueprint of the meetings in River Edge.

The group boasts more than 1100 members now with over 230 success stories to date. Neighbors Helping Neighbors has also recently received national attention for their work, and continue to keep growing to meet the demand of job-seekers out there.

"We really espouse the pay-it-forward concept," Fugazzie said. "That if you really do things to help others without expecting something in return, a whole lot of good things are going to come back to you."

Find out more by visiting the group's website and Facebook page.

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