I’ve had the good fortune of holding executive positions with high-profile organizations. On a near-daily basis I would be contacted by an unemployed individual in search of a job. Most were out of work through no fault of their own, and many were highly competent, capable and eager to apply their talents (“Left Behind” series, Jan. 12). Mostly, they wanted to be wanted, to have a sense of purpose.

It was heartbreaking to meet a dad, out of work for months or even years, worried about what his children thought of him, or a single mother who suddenly found herself in need of a paycheck. Yet today many of us deem ourselves so self-important or busy that we can’t find a few minutes to offer encouragement to someone in desperate need of it. There is nothing quite so humbling as being unemployed when one wants to work. And it can happen to anyone at any time.

So, to those who are gainfully employed: Have empathy for the men and women and moms and dads who are between jobs or starting a business. Return their calls and their e-mails. Offer your encouragement. Because, one day, it might be you on the other end.