“I’ve always wanted to be able to work from home, but I’ve never been able to,” says Letcher County native Deborah Spangler as she explains why she was so excited to learn about Teleworks USA—even if her circumstances at the time were less than ideal.
It all started with a flyer. Spangler had lost her job at the end of 2015 with the Letcher County Senior Citizens’ Center as a meal deliverer.
“At the end of December, I was unemployed, laid off from my job, and I started drawing my unemployment,” Spangler recalls as she sits in an office at the Teleworks USA Hazard Teleworks Hub. “I really didn’t know about Teleworks until I actually went to the unemployment office and saw one of the flyers and took it home with me.”
An initiative of the Eastern Kentucky Concentrated Employment Program, Inc. (EKCEP), Teleworks USA identifies and develops legitimate remote-work, distance learning opportunities, and helps people prepare for and land these jobs through its website, teleworks.com. Teleworks USA also operates hubs in Annville, Beattyville, Booneville, Harlan, Hazard, and Pike County that offer workspace and workshop learning opportunities for teleworkers who may not have access to suitable internet speeds or computer equipment at home.
Spangler says she called that same day in February 2016 that she took the flyer home and scheduled a meeting to talk with Hazard Hub Manager Theresa Noble.
“On that day we set up, I went through the steps that they required to get enrolled into the program,” she says, explaining that she took an online test and filled out some paperwork. “I got set up that Wednesday, and started training with Theresa on a Monday. That Tuesday we put an application in for U-Haul, and by Friday I had a phone call from U-Haul to set up an interview.”
By the time Spangler started training with U-Haul, only a month had passed since she had scheduled a meeting to learn more about Teleworks. During that time, she was able to complete the digital literacy and customer service workshops offered through Teleworks USA to help prepare hopeful teleworkers for the jobs they’re going into.
“Working with the Teleworks workshops, it reintroduced me into how you are supposed to correctly talk on the phone and be a customer service representative,” she says. “It was very helpful.”
Now, Spangler works as a customer service representative in center sales for U-Haul, taking incoming calls from customers about renting U-Haul equipment. She says this is the type of job she has always waited for.
“I’ve always wanted to work from home, but it’s never worked out. I’ve always gotten the ones that were the scams,” she admits, laughing. “If it can be done wrong, I’ve done it.”
With Teleworks USA, though, Spangler says she feels completely confident in her work and in the initiative itself.
“I’m comfortable with feeling like if something was to happen with them (U-Haul) that I could come back to Teleworks, and they would help me look elsewhere to make sure that I get to a right place of work that is legitimate,” she says.
She’s even pushed some of her friends to look into working from home, too.
“I’ve tried to get a few here. I have a friend, they kind of waited to see if it really worked with me, and it did, so they said, hey, give me the information on how you got started,” Spangler explains. “I would totally recommend it to anybody.”
Looking back to her life before she discovered Teleworks USA, Spangler admits that she likely would not be as lucky in finding employment as she has been—and she definitely wouldn’t be as happy with what she was doing now even if she had found a new job.
“I’d probably be still drawing my unemployment, truthfully,” she says. “I mean, I would have looked for a job, but I would have waited for something I was more comfortable with and wanted. This is what I wanted, to work from home, and they (Teleworks USA) allow me to do that.”
“They give you the skills and access to jobs. It’s up to you whether you do it or not,” she adds.
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.org and http://www.facebook.com/ekcep.