Gateway Community Action Helps Menifee County College Grad Find Career in Hometown

Frenchburg native Dacey Meeks is grateful that her commute to work does not take her out of her hometown—a reality she never thought would be realized until she made a fateful visit to her local Gateway Community Action office.

“If it hadn’t have been for Gateway, I probably wouldn’t have had the opportunity to get the job that I have today,” Meeks says.

Meeks struggled to find local work after she graduated college in May 2018.

“I had basically just graduated from Maysville Community and Technical College, and I was wanting something close to home,” she explains, adding she was hoping to find a position in which she could utilize her associate’s degree in business administration.

Meeks was working part-time at a local tax office in Menifee County, but couldn’t nail down a job she would consider a career in her hometown.

“I had put in a few résumés and stuff, but I hadn’t really gotten any call backs,” she says.

About a month into this fruitless process, Meeks decided to turn to a resource she knew could help in her search—the Gateway Community Action office in Frenchburg.

Gateway provides Workforce Innovation Opportunity Act (WIOA) services in Morgan and Menifee counties under contract with the Eastern Kentucky Concentrated Employment Program, Inc. (EKCEP). EKCEP administers WIOA programs in 23 mountain counties and also manages the Kentucky Career Center JobSight network of workforce centers, which provide access to more than a dozen programs and services for job seekers and employers under one roof.

Meeks says she was already acquainted with Gateway’s workforce services director, Wendy Crain-Lawson, and Cindy Hurt, an expert career advisor on staff.

“So, when somebody kind of suggested hey, why don’t you go talk to them and you can see what you can find out, I did,” Meeks explains.

Meeks messaged Crain-Lawson, who put her in touch with Hurt. A few emails later, and Meeks was headed to an appointment with her new career advisor to find out what options she had in her search for a career.

“It wasn’t complicated at all,” Meeks remembers of her meeting with Hurt. “She just took me through the steps, and I filled out some paperwork.”

Hurt told Meeks about an internship opportunity at a local clinic, the Community Family Clinic in Frenchburg, and Meeks says she knew that she had to jump at that chance.

“I just started here like a week later doing that internship,” she says, adding that the internship lasted around eight to 12 weeks. “Then, they hired me on straight after that!”

Meeks was officially hired at the beginning of July 2018 and has worked there since in quality management—a position in which she could definitely put to use her hard-earned degree.

Looking back, Meeks admits that she would likely be in a very different place today had she not decided to contact Crain-Lawson or anyone at Gateway Community Action when she did.

“I wouldn’t have known about the internship. I would have never thought to do an internship beforehand,” she says. “I probably wouldn’t be working here. I would probably be working somewhere farther from home, honestly, and I wouldn’t be here in my hometown.”

For anyone else having issues finding a career or just getting a job in general in their hometown, Meeks is adamant that they seek out their local Community Action and JobSight office for assistance.

“Keep putting in your résumés. Keep applying places that you are interested in working at,” she says. “Like with me, if you can’t find anything, just find somebody who is able to help you and give you the opportunity to get the job that you want or that job close to home that you would like to have.”

“I think (Gateway) is great, I think that it’s very helpful, and it’s just a good opportunity for people,” 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.