Director of Clinical Services, Emma Steiner, Featured in The Philadelphia Inquirer: ‘I Feel Stuck’: Philadelphians Struggle with The Effects of Unemployment on Mental Health
December 1, 2020 | When Joe Ronca locked the doors of Kawaii Kitty Cafe in Queen Village on March 15, he thought the popular spot, which he co-owned with his partner Kristin Eissler, would be open again after a few months. The couple quarantined at home and prepared to ride out the pandemic, like hundreds of other small-business owners in Philadelphia.
Through the spring and summer, Ronca and Eissler tried to find a more sustainable business model during the pandemic for Kawaii Kitty Cafe, where patrons pay to interact with the cafe’s cats. They sold merchandise online and at pop-up events. The couple also began streaming video games on their Facebook page, featuring adoptable cats. They were buoyed for a few months by donations, and grateful they were able to place the remaining cats in foster homes. Ronca, who worked as a videographer before opening the cafe, filed for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) in April, which also helped.
But by fall, Ronca and Eissler realized it was no longer feasible to hold onto their lease for the cafe.
“I want to wave a magic wand and make it better for her, but I feel stuck,” Ronca said.
Ronca is among the millions of Pennsylvanians who filed for PUA, many of whom are still having issues accessing benefits while also struggling to process all they’ve endured this year.