Even the best of plans seem to have a habit of not working out quite as we’d hoped—Whitley Countian Stephanie Sawyers knows that all too well. Luckily, help came in the form of her local Kentucky Career Center JobSight, which gave her the resources to get her plan back on track
Sawyers was struggling to make ends meet for her family before 2017.
“I’d actually been working at a place, and was getting low hours and no health insurance, things like that,” Sawyers explains.
As a single mom to a son with special needs, Sawyers was also faced with the responsibility of making sure her son was properly cared for during the short hours she was at work.
“As he got a little bit older, and got into school, I decided I needed some sort of a career. I needed something to fall back on,” she says.
While listening to her troubles, a close friend of Sawyers who had used the services told her about the opportunities available at the KCEOC Kentucky Career Center JobSight.
A partner in the Kentucky Career Center JobSight network of workforce centers, KCEOC provides Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) services in Knox County, under contract with the Eastern Kentucky Concentrated Employment Program, Inc. (EKCEP). Those services include programs for adults, dislocated workers, and for in-school and out-of-school youth who may need assistance honing skills such as résumé building or networking with local employers, or who need assistance being retrained or going to school.
Sawyers was sold and contacted KCEOC to set up an appointment with an expert career advisor to see what her options would be.
After finishing preliminary aptitude tests and determining her eligibility, expert Career Advisor Beverly Patterson explained to Sawyers that a good fit for her would be working toward becoming a certified medical assistant (CMA) and phlebotomist through Choice MD in London, Ky. The 16-week program would be fully funded—including books, uniforms, and any other supplies she needed—through KCEOC.
Sawyers says she wanted to immediately get going with her new career plan—however, there was just one problem.
“I would not have been going anywhere had it not been for the program (KCEOC) because my vehicle wouldn’t even drive locally and my classes were in London,” she explains.
Patterson helped Sawyers pay for enough vehicle repairs to get her vehicle road-safe with program funding specifically set aside to assist clients with fixing their vehicles to get back into the workforce.
“They got my vehicle in good enough shape so that I could at least go to London to complete school,” Sawyers says, adding that her classes started in the spring of 2017.
Sawyers’ classes flew by, and she says she enjoyed it immensely. Before she knew it she was graduating and enrolled in an externship with a local doctor’s office that was interested in hiring her on full-time. Unfortunately, her plan hit a huge snag at the same time.
“During the two weeks of externship, my son completely reverted back (and was) acting out at school and everything,” Sawyers explains, adding that she was eventually forced to withdraw her son from school, meaning she would have to figure out a way to work as a CMA and have her son properly cared for.
Sawyers quickly realized that working 12-hour shifts daily would not work for her and her family at such a crucial time, but no medical facility in her area offered CMA positions with flexible hours.
“Trying to find something that worked scheduling-wise with him being off school, me being a single mom, having no childcare for him. I can’t take him to normal daycare or things like that,” she says. “That was a huge roadblock.”
Quickly running out of options, Sawyers turned to the same place that had helped her before and decided to speak with Patterson to see if she had any ideas on what to do.
“She was like, you know, what if we could get you a job that’s going to work the hours that work for you,” Sawyers remembers.
Patterson was able to get Sawyers an interview for an office manager’s position with TEKSwork, a business services and tech support company out of Williamsburg, Ky.
“I didn’t have any formal training or anything like that, other than the technical school and high school. I’ve had no college, but I’m doing a job now that probably would require such, but I got it because of being well-spoken and being able to multitask—I call it the ‘mom card’—and it’s because of Beverly (Patterson) and KCEOC helping me out,” Sawyers says.
“I do believe I’m on my way, and I don’t think I would have been if it hadn’t of been for the program,” she adds.
Sawyers says KCEOC offers “life-changing” assistance to anyone in the area who is in need.
“If you don’t know about it, then find out about it, and don’t hesitate to get in contact with them,” she says.
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 and operates the Kentucky Career Center JobSight network of workforce centers, which provide access to more than a dozen state and federal programs that offer employment and training assistance for jobseekers and employers all under one roof. Learn more about us at http://www.ekcep.org,http://www.jobsight.organd http://www.facebook.com/ekcep.