Ex-Wood-Mode employees pick up final check

Former Wood-Mode workers line up to collect their final paychecks on Friday morning.

KREAMER — Hundreds of former Wood-Mode workers are facing the first week with mounting uncertainty following the sudden closure of the manufacturing plant last week.

“I’m feeling like there are less answers,” said Melinda Stuck, a Beavertown mother of two college-aged children who was laid off last week from the job she’d held for 25 years.

To help ease some of the financial burden, agencies ranging from Geisinger to local food pantries are offering assistance to the 938 laid-off workers, many of whom were employed for decades at the 77-year-old plant.

Tammy Heeter, a 59-year-old Beavertown woman who worked there 20 years, is visiting many of those agencies for advice and aid.

“I don’t even have a resume,” she said.

Even before Wood-Mode informed the displaced workers in an automated text Friday evening that all health and welfare insurance would cease by midnight that day Geisinger and Family Practice Center representatives were reaching out with offers of help.

Customer care specialists will be available at the Susquehanna Valley Mall at a temporary, walk-in clinic Geisinger has set up for GHP members beginning today through June 1 from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday. They will also be available on Memorial Day — Monday, May 27 - from 10:30 a.m. to 4 p.m.

The health system will also offer career guidance to all displaced Wood-Mode employees at events throughout the Valley.

Family Practice Center put out a notice on its Facebook page last week that it would also be offering assistance to anyone whose insurance has been terminated.

“We know healthcare and insurance can be confusing especially when you are faced with changes you have never had to worry about before like losing your health insurance. Please know that we are here for you,” the online statement said.

Area certified financial planners like Joshua Knauss, CEO of Omniwealth Group and John M. Machak, an investment advisor from The Wealth Factory, both of Lewisburg, are offering free financial counseling to former Wood-Mode employees and at least three firms have filed federal class-action lawsuits against the company for possible violation of the WARN Act that requires businesses give employees at least 60-day notice of a shutdown in most cases.

Stuck said she’s already started poring over her household budget looking for areas to cut.

On Sunday, she visited St. Peter’s Lutheran Church in Kreamer where Geisinger human services representatives were available to help employees write a new resume.

“I’ll be going to the job fairs, too,” said Stuck.

A job fair at the VFW in Selinsgrove on Wednesday from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. was scheduled prior to Wood-Mode’s abrupt closure and has more than 65 businesses taking part.

Another job fair exclusively for former Wood-Mode employees will be held June 3 and the Union-Snyder Community Action Agency has a listing of available jobs in manufacturing, health care, construction and other fields from 100 mostly Valley businesses.

Snyder County Coalition for Kids and students from the Midd-West High School’s DECA and Student Council are looking to raise $7,500 over the next two weeks and with the help of a private donor who has offered to match it, will be using the money to help families in the Midd-West and Selinsgrove school districts impacted by Wood-Mode’s closure.

Requests for financial assistance may be made through the Midd-West School District messenger app or with the address:webmaster@mwsd.cc. 

Snyder County Commissioner Joe Kantz said the widespread support has been heartwarming and in contrast with the silence coming from Wood-Mode owners Robert and Brooks Gronlund.

Kantz said he spoke with one New England dealer over the weekend who is waiting on $150,000 worth of product from Wood-Mode that he was supposed to collect last Thursday.

That dealer told him that all he’s been told is that Wood-Mode would be “in touch.”