Winooski man goes from three jobs — bakery worker, sound engineer, musician — to none

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A PSA done by the Ohio Department of Health used mousetraps and ping-pong balls to illustrate the importance of social distancing has gone viral. Wochit

Two months ago, Sean Hood worked at Barrio Bakery in Burlington, ran the sound board at The Monkey House near his Winooski home and was preparing for a run of shows with his band, Eastern Mountain Time.

Then COVID-19 and the resulting stay-at-home orders hit. All three part-time jobs disappeared. He said he’s relying on unemployment insurance he started receiving after “two weeks of hell” trying to reach the swamped state Department of Labor.

“I had gotten to a point,” Hood said, “where I had next month’s rent and that was it.”

A year ago, Hood worked at Dealer.com in Burlington, troubleshooting tech issues for the automotive-marketing company. He quit right before last year’s Waking Windows festival, which Eastern Mountain Time would have played this weekend had the Winooski event not been canceled.

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“Dealer.com gave me some insight into what a ‘career’ can look like with steady income and paid time off and sick leave and benefits, a lot of things small businesses would love to provide but just aren’t able to,” said Hood, who’s 32. “But my personality and my mindset seem to be better-suited to the mom-and-pop kind of stuff even if it means scraping by a little.”

Hood released Eastern Mountain Time’s new album, “Seven,” online April 7. Buyers are asked to pay $7; Hood said some pay up to $20, knowing the economic challenges unemployed musicians are facing.

He doesn’t miss the security Dealer.com provided, even if the early days of unemployment scared him.

“It was a challenge because of the uncertainty of it,” said Hood, who found solace from phone calls or social-media posts from friends with similar struggles. “What got me through it was knowing I was not alone. One of the takeaways from this situation is we are in it together.”

More personal stories: How Vermonters are facing life in the coronavirus era

Waking Windows at Home

Sean Hood and Eastern Mountain Time will be among those taking part in the live-stream event replacing the in-person Waking Windows festival that would have happened in Winooski this Friday through Sunday. Festival organizers announced Monday that they will “have a weekend of socially distant events taking place across the web,” with the schedule to be revealed Thursday. 

For more information: facebook.com/WakingWindows 

Contact Brent Hallenbeck at 660-1844 or bhallenbeck@freepressmedia.com. Follow Brent on Twitter at www.twitter.com/BrentHallenbeck.

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