LAKE GENEVA — On October 14, Consumer Investigator Kristin Byrne and I-Team producer, Marty Hobe interviewed 36 people via video chat.
They were either unemployed waiting months for their benefits or family members of those who were.
It took about two hours to hear everyone's story. Nicki Macmillan of Lake Geneva shared her story toward the end and it was one of the most heartbreaking.
"I do everything I possibly can to eat," the single mother of two said on the Zoom call.
The property manager said when COVID-19 hit, she lost her job and so much more.
"I don't really have an address anymore due to COVID," MacMillan said.
When we heard from MacMillan, she had been waiting seven months for her unemployment benefits. Her family life was crumbling.
"I also have a 4-year-old son who is staying with his dad in Texas right now because I can't provide," she said.
The I-Team forwarded her case over to the Department of Workforce Development, hoping they would further review her claim.
A month and a half later, Byrne chatted with MacMillan over Zoom.
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"How are you doing? Good to see you," said Byrne.
"Good to see you too!" MacMillan said.
"Under a little better circumstances this time," she said.
MacMillan said things started falling into place, after receiving nearly $20,000 in delayed payments.
Our photographer visited MacMillan at her new place.
"After I received that money, things got a lot better," she said.
MacMillan is the first tenant of a newly built Lake Geneva home.
"Now, we have an address and I'm proud to have this address," she said.
MacMillan signed up for classes to get her real-estate license and is working to get her 4-year-old back home to Wisconsin.
"It's pretty rock bottom when everything is taken from you especially when you work so hard your whole life," she continued.
"The face of unemployment is very ugly. You wonder every day, do I deserve this? Even though you know you do," she said.
MacMillan has a message for those still waiting for their unemployment pay -- keep fighting.
"Just keep going. It's your money. You absolutely deserve it and you fight for it. There's always brighter days ahead. Just keep going."