Imagine driving more than an hour to and from work every day. Now imagine that work is simply training for what you hope will become a fruitful career.
Letcher Countian Lori Stambaugh has been living that life for the last month and a half, but says she would drive farther for an opportunity like the one she has been given with Teleworks USA.
“I heard of Teleworks USA through a family member. She had actually come here, went through the program and got hired—she’s in training as we speak,” Stambaugh, who lives on the Kentucky-Virginia border in Letcher County, says as she sits in an office space in the Hazard Teleworks Hub.
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, www.teleworks.com. Teleworks USA also operates hubs in Annville, Beattyville, Hazard, and Harlan that offer workspace and training opportunities for teleworkers who may not have access to suitable Internet speeds or computer equipment at home.
Stambaugh came to learn about Teleworks USA in February 2016, talking to Hazard Hub Manager Theresa Noble about how the initiative could better her and her family’s lives.
“Since I was 18, I’ve done hair. I was a hair dresser for 20 plus years,” Stambaugh explains.
Stambaugh even opened her own salon, which she worked in full-time.
“I did also have a part-time job, and actually I got the part-time job because in our area here, everybody’s struggling. Getting a part-time job isn’t just a necessity anymore, it’s a luxury if you’re even able to find one,” she says, furrowing her brow.
However, in 2015, Stambaugh says she was forced to make the tough decision to close her hair salon for good due to a downturn in the local economy that led to fewer customers walking through her door.
“I just realized after so many years that it’s just not going to be my job anymore,” Stambaugh adds.
After closing her business, keeping her part-time job was a must, but Stambaugh says the income and sporadic hours were just not cutting it for her and her family.
“I was looking for something a little more full-time, but I always loved the idea of working from home,” she says. “So, when I heard about Teleworks and the opportunity to get back to that, I jumped at the chance”
Stambaugh says her experience so far with the Teleworks USA training classes, which include digital literacy and customer service training, have been amazing.
“It’s been wonderful since I came through the front doors,” she laughs. “I’ve really enjoyed it. I’ve learned a lot from it, and I would have never gotten the opportunity I have had without Teleworks USA.”
Stambaugh graduated from her training classes in the first few weeks of March, and says she is ready to begin her new job with Sutherland CloudSource working for a national telephone and Internet provider.
“Without this opportunity, I’d still be working a part-time job, capped out at 25 hours a week and making $350 every two weeks. Now, I have the opportunity at a full-time job, making that plus in a week, so that’s just going to help us so much financially,” she says, a smile spreading across her face.
“With our area, we don’t know from day to day if we’re going to have a job,” she continues. “I think this (Teleworks USA) is one of the best things that could have ever happened to this area, because you’ve got so many people out of work.”
Since Stambaugh learned about Teleworks USA, she says she makes sure to spread the word to everyone she knows who may need help finding employment.
“Come here, talk with them, let them show you what your options are, because I, of course, wanted the work-at-home option, but that’s not all they’re here for,” she says. “They’re here to help people find jobs, and we don’t always have that opportunity ourselves. We may not know where to go to find those resources to get that help, and they can get that help for you here.”
EKCEP, a nonprofit workforce development agency headquartered in Hazard, Ky., serves 23 Appalachian coalfield counties. The agency provides an array of workforce development services and also administers the Hiring Our Miners Everyday (H.O.M.E.) program, which provides career services to laid-off miners and their spouses. Find out more at www.jobsight.org and www.facebook.com/ekcep.