One single piece of paper—that’s all it took to change Whitely Countian Marsha Moses’ path in life.
“When I saw the flyer, for whatever reason I picked it up. I don’t normally do that,” Moses says, shaking her head. “I picked it up and read about it, and I showed it to my husband and he was like, well, you never know, maybe this is your chance.”
That piece of paper Moses was referring to was a flyer for the Paths 2 Promise (P2P) program, and she smiles as she remembers first learning about it.
P2P was a pilot project that teamed up local and state agencies to help increase employment among residents who receive benefits through the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP) in Kentucky’s Promise Zone counties, which include Bell, Harlan, Clay, Letcher, Leslie, Perry, Knox, and Whitley counties. Partners and employers coordinated to help educate and skill up participants through work-based learning opportunities, internships, and on-the-job training (OJT), as well as educational and training programs.
Enrollment in P2P ended in August 2018. Moses was one of hundreds of people who signed up for services over a two-year period.
“I had never heard about it before,” Moses admits. “I pondered on it for a day or two, and I thought, well, I’m going to call and see what this is all about.”
Moses’ journey to finding that flyer was unplanned and full of uncertainties for both her and her family. Being a stay-at-home mom for 18 years, though, had been a very certain part of Moses’ family’s plan.
“My husband always worked and provided for us, and I knew once I got my kids raised that I was going to go back to school and pursue a nursing career,” she explains.
Unfortunately, the layoff of her husband from his job in November 2016 was not part of their plan.
“Due to some life curveballs, he lost his job,” Moses says, adjusting her name badge attached to her scrub jacket. “He was on unemployment and that was running out, so we had to do something.”
With little experience under her belt, Moses found it difficult to find a job in the area when she needed it most.
“I wasn’t going to settle for fast food—been there done that,” she says, laughing. “I just wanted better for myself, and I knew what I wanted to be so that’s what I did.”
Moses was planning on enrolling into the nursing program at the Somerset Southeast Community and Technical College as her husband’s unemployment insurance was running out, but quickly discovered the burden of that decision would be great on her and her family.
“I got approved to go to Southeast, which I really dreaded doing because of all the prerequisites and everything, and I didn’t want to have to go through all that stuff because I wanted to hurry up and work,” she says.
Just a few weeks before her classes were set to start in August 2017, Moses picked up that fateful single sheet of paper and discovered P2P. She called that same day and made an appointment to speak with an expert career advisor with the KCEOC Community Action Program, the agency that handled P2P clients from Whitley County, about enrolling in the program.
“I went up there and talked to her and I filled out paperwork. Then, the next day, we went back and she put all my info in the computer, and that’s when I found out that I had qualified. I was approved for everything,” Moses says.
After qualifying for the program, Moses chose to pursue a career as a certified clinical medical assistant (CMA) by enrolling in the 16-week program with Choice MD in London, Ky.
“I had originally applied for Choice MD before my husband lost his job, but we couldn’t do it financially,” she explains. “I was nervous but at the same time I was excited because I was actually going to get to start going what I’d set out to do pretty quickly and with no worries.”
“I didn’t have to worry about transportation and costs and all of that stuff that would have come along with going to college,” Moses adds.
P2P was able to pay for Moses’ tuition costs with Choice MD, as well as her scrubs, books, and any equipment and supplies she’d need for class. She was also able to get help with gas money to go to and from class and, later, her intern and externships.
Moses finished the 16-week class in December 2017 and finished her intern- and externship hours in mid-2018. She now works for the Laurel County Correctional Center as a CMA, where she was hired on after performing exceptionally in her internship there.
“I would not have made it this far had it not been for P2P,” Moses says. “It’s a wonderful program, you’ve just got to step out and do it.”
Living in a county that has struggled in recent years, Moses says she knows that P2P is a program that could help her community.
“Anytime I had a question or a problem or was just kind of clueless about something, all I had to do was call. They knew where all the resources were, they knew what to do,” she adds. “Paths 2 Promise has been life-changing.”
Paths 2 Promise has been funded at least in part with Federal funds from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The contents of this publication do not necessarily reflect the view or policies of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, nor does mention of trade names, commercial products, or organizations imply endorsement by the U.S. Government. USDA is an equal opportunity employer and provider.
Partners in the Paths 2 Promise pilot project include the Eastern Kentucky Concentrated Employment Program, Inc. (EKCEP), the Kentucky Department for Community Based Services (DCBS), the Kentucky Department of Workforce Investment branded as the Kentucky Career Centers (KCC), Kentucky Adult Education (KYAE), and the Kentucky Community and Technical College System (KCTCS).
EKCEP, a nonprofit workforce development agency headquartered in Hazard, Ky., serves the citizens of 23 Appalachian coalfield counties. The agency provides an array of workforce development services, administers the Hiring Our Miners Everyday (H.O.M.E.) program for dislocated coal miners and their spouses, and is the White House-designated lead organization for the federal TechHire designation for Eastern Kentucky. Learn more about us at http://www.ekcep.org, http://www.jobsight.organd http://www.facebook.com/ekcep.