Writing for the “Help Wanted” project has been one of the most rewarding experiences of my life.

It happened as a fluke, really. One day I sat down at the computer to peruse the Internet for job leads when I found myself on Twitter, wasting time. It was here I found The Washington Post’s questionnaire about unemployment. Honestly, I have no idea what made me respond. I normally don’t fill out surveys, but I’m so glad that I filled out this one.

This project has done so much for me. For starters, it has helped me keep my writing skills sharp. Writing is like any other skill — practice makes perfect. I was worried that during my down time I would lose my “voice,” or the thoughts wouldn’t continue to easily flow from my fingers to the page. Instead, I had so much to say that I couldn’t stop writing.

Being able to write down my thoughts and feelings and share them has  given me new hope for my future. So many positive things have been revealed to me every time I have sat down to write. With each new post, I thought long and hard about what I was saying and the message I was trying to send. I hope that my words and my stories about what I have been through have given at least a little hope to others who find themselves becoming depressed or giving up hope of finding a job. I hope that my stories have given a true and accurate account of what it’s like for a real person living through this Great Recession.

This project has also added an impressive line to my resume. I can now say that I have been a writer for The Washington Post and have made an appearance on National Public Radio’s “On Point” program. I couldn’t have said that before.

(Courtesy of Marianne Steffey)

I walk away from this experience a stronger person. I know that I can persevere. I have received letters from all across the country — Facebook and Twitter messages of hope from people I don’t even know. It’s taught me that no matter where you are on the map, or your place in society, Americans will stand together in support of its own.

Good luck to all of you out there who are struggling. I pray for you every day. Don‘t give up! Giving up is giving in and America has never been a nation of quitters. No matter what is said, America will return to prosperity. We are still the greatest nation on Earth, there’s no doubt about it.

Thank you Washington Post and Brian Rosenthal for this amazing experience. You have no idea just how much you have done for me. Thank you to all of those who have written me letters of encouragement and advice.

If any of you hear of a job opening, let me know. This may be my last blog for the Post, but my search for a new career continues.

Marianne Steffey, a 32-year-old former journalist from Erwin, Tenn., has been unemployed for seven months. Read more about her here. Read about the “Help Wanted” project here. Visit the project home page here.

Read more updates from Marianne Steffey here.