Kimberly and David Inman lead an uncommon life. Not only is the Clay County couple able to live together with their daughter in their hometown, but they are also able to work side-by-side, thanks in large part to the Daniel Boone Community Action Agency (CAA).
Clad in navy and black scrubs, David and Kimberly sit next to each other in an exam room at The Good Heart Corporation heart clinic in Manchester, Ky.
“If people would just get out there and ask questions and stuff, they could get it—what we have—if they just could get out there and go after it,” Kimberly says, gesturing between the two of them. “Me and him were so miserable with our lives. We were living paycheck to paycheck. We were barely making it."
In June 2016, after a bought of bad luck in the job market, the couple was able to find employment with a data entry firm in London, Ky. Unfortunately, less than two years later in October 2017 they were laid off from those same jobs.
“We immediately went and filed for our unemployment,” Kimberly adds, explaining that they made the trek up to the Daniel Boone CAA with little knowledge of what services were available there.
Daniel Boone CAA provides Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) career-advising services in Jackson and Clay counties under contract with the Eastern Kentucky Concentrated Employment Program, Inc. (EKCEP) that help people re-enter the workforce or upskill for new, better jobs and careers. In addition to assistance to dislocated or underemployed adult workers, the agency also provides workforce services to at-risk youth and area employers.
David was a bit taken aback at the resources that had been available to them all along without them even knowing.
“I had heard that they had some career stuff, but I didn’t know what they did or how you could qualify for it,” he says.
Kim Duff with the Office of Employment and Training (OET) in Manchester directed the couple to a career advisor the same day they applied for unemployment insurance. Kimberly says she explained that they may even be able to go back to school if they qualified.
“We knew we wanted to go back to school, we just didn’t know how or where or if we could,” she says.
The answers to all of their questions came from their expert career advisor Barb Smith, who assisted them every step of the way to see what program they could qualify for. A few tests and some paperwork later, Kimberly and David had qualified for assistance from the Community Impact initiative and were ready to enroll in school. Community Impact assists dislocated workers and is funded through a U.S. Dept. of Labor National Emergency Grant awarded to EKCEP.
The program that fit their needs and wants the best, Kimberly recalls, was the London-based Choice MD program—a 16-week training for Clinical Medical Assistants (CMA).
“Without Daniel Boone, me and him couldn’t have gone back to school and afforded to pay for that,” she says, adding that Daniel Boone was able to assist them with paying for tuition, books, scrubs, shoes, equipment, and nearly anything else they needed to get through the CMA program.
At the beginning of April, the Inmans were ready to graduate from Choice MD and begin their externship at The Good Heart Coorporation—the next big step in their education. However, the unemployment insurance they had applied for previously was about to run out any day and the couple was struggling to support themselves.
“We were living off savings and we were getting to where we were having to really pinch pennies,” Kimberly says, laughing about it now. “I called and asked our career advisor if there was anything we could do.”
Smith told her that she could qualify for a needs-based payment as long as she was still in training for school. This would pay her what her unemployment had been paying for as long as she was completing her internship or externship for her education.
“That was a blessing,” she says. “That helped us a lot.”
Once Kimberly and David were finished with their 80-hour externship, they then qualified and enrolled in a 320-hour internship with the same clinic. That internship is what they credit as the sticking point for them being hired on May 30, 2018, for their current jobs.
“After we finished our internship, the bosses here, the manager, told us he was just going to keep us both,” she says. “We couldn’t have actually shown what we had and could do until they let us on the floor.”
David wholeheartedly agrees.
“It got our foot in the door—without that, I don’t think we could have ever gotten hired,” he admits.
Now, sitting in their workplace comfortably together, the Inmans agree that had they not learned of the different services offered at Daniel Boone CAA when they did, their lives would be completely different.
“For me personally, I would have had to went back to one of these places in London like the Job Shop or NESCO or something like that because it’s so hard right now to find employment,” David says.
After being laid off from his 11-year tenure at Walmart, he says he bounced from job to job as layoffs in the region ran rampant.
“I just really haven’t been able to find my place until I started here, and I feel like it’s the first time since Walmart that I’m proud of what I do,” he adds. “The program works, but you have to work for it, too.”
“You’ve got to want it,” Kimberly adds. “We wanted it, and now look what all we have.”
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.