HAZARD – Having to wait in your car can be an excruciating undertaking; it’s cramped, doesn’t usually have the best temperature control, and can quickly become boring.
For weeks, Danny Singleton, of Knott County, made the conscious choice to wait in his car after taking his wife to work or before she was off for the day—all so he could make sure he made it on time to his job a quarter mile up the road at the Teleworks USA Teleworks Hub in Hazard.
Clad in a Batman T-shirt and surrounded by the comic book and superhero memorabilia that decorates his office at the Hub, it’s clear that Singleton doesn’t fit the typical office worker image.
“Since probably around 1994 I’ve been self-employed, selling at the flea market and doing jobs here and there, up until 2010,” Singleton says as he sits in his office. “The economy got so bad, and without the economy, the flea market’s not going to make it. You’ve got to have people making money in order for those people to go somewhere and spend money.”
After closing shop on his business, Singleton says he took on whatever odd jobs he could that would help pay the bills for his family.
“Basically for four years it was just whatever I could find, pick up scrap, do odd jobs for people, mow grass, cut weeds, odd job construction work,” he remembers. “It got to where, physically, I wasn’t able to do physical labor anymore.”
“Getting this job now, I guess you’d say it was a life saver,” he adds.
By the fall of 2015, both Singleton and his wife were in search of work. After visiting the local Family Support Office, they were told to go to the Kentucky Career Center JobSight in Hazard to see if there were any services they would qualify for to help find employment.
“One of the ladies at the front desk told us about Teleworks,” he says.
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, Booneville, Harlan, and Hazard that offer workspace and training opportunities for teleworkers who may not have access to suitable internet speeds or computer equipment at home.
After talking to Hazard Teleworks Hub Manager Theresa Noble, Singleton met with Allison Brown, an expert career advisor with LKLP Community Action. She helped Singleton enroll in the customer service and digital literacy classes offered through Teleworks USA that are designed to help prepare jobseekers for the types of jobs they would be applying for.
“It refreshed my knowledge on everything,” Singleton says of the classes. “The last business I owned I closed in 2007 or 2008, so that’s been about eight years, so it’s pretty much just refreshed my knowledge on a lot of stuff.”
Singleton landed his first customer service job with Sutherland CloudSource, a company that provides online support for major national companies, including 1-800-Flowers, The Popcorn Factory, and others. His job was a seasonal telework position for a national gift delivery service during the holidays, and by the end of 2015, he found himself yet again on the job hunt.
“I basically came in at least two or three times a week and filled out applications and did the tests they send you to take. I wasn’t going to stop,” he says.
That tenacity paid off at the end of January. Singleton says he had applied again through Sutherland CloudSource to be a support agent for a global software and gaming company, and went through a rigorous interview process for about two weeks.
“There was a full week when I came in almost every single day that week for interviews and assessments,” he remembers.
Singleton adds that had the company not hired him, he knows without a doubt he would be working at a local restaurant making minimum wage.
“The day that I got called that I actually got hired, I had left here (the Teleworks Hub), and went to the grocery store and Wendy’s had called for me to come in for an interview,” he laughs. “That was before I went into the grocery store. When I came out, Hardee’s had called me, which was really funny. Here I’ve looked for two months trying to get a job, but couldn’t find anything, and then in one day I could have had three.
“If it wasn’t for Teleworks,” he adds, “if I was working it would probably be a job at a restaurant, and then most of those you don’t get a 40-hour week. You basically make enough money to get to work.”
Singleton’s first day of a five-week training course through the company started on February 29, 2016, and his first official day as a support agent was in April.
“I love it,” he says. “Anytime I need help, there’s not just one, there’s two or three there that will help you with whatever it is. Even though I’ve never personally met any of them … it feels like a family type thing. It’s like everybody is there to support each other.”
After seeing what Teleworks USA has been able to do for his family and life, Singleton says he has told many of his friends about the opportunities in their hometown.
“I know there’s a lot of people out there that do physical labor and those days are over for them. With this, you can have a job with really good benefits, pretty good pay, and you won’t be killing yourself,” he says. “Teleworks is a great program, especially for Eastern Kentucky. I’m not just here to work, I want to make a career out of this.”