BOONEVILLE, KY. – Booneville resident Jai Cooper never saw himself in a position where he would be comfortable working with the public. Teleworks USA, though, was able to help him realize his potential as a people-person after assisting him in landing something much coveted in Owsley County—a job.
“I came from Indiana—a small town but it’s a little bit bigger than this one,” Cooper explains as he sits at a computer in the Booneville Teleworks USA Hub.
Though not originally from the region, Cooper’s wife was a native Eastern Kentuckian. When the couple fell on hard times in Indiana in 2018, they made the difficult decision to move to Owsley County and try to find employment while they had support closer to home.
“We came down here to start a new life,” he says. “After about two months down here, we couldn’t find a job, couldn’t take care of our kid or anything.”
Desperate, Cooper and his wife were ready to return to Indiana to resume their job hunt there when his father-in-law told him of an unlikely saving grace in Teleworks USA.
“He actually knew about this place when it first opened up, and he actually knew a few people that worked here,” Cooper explains, speaking of the Booneville Teleworks USA Hub. “We had drove past it when we went around putting applications in, but really didn’t think anything of it.”
Knowing it was likely their last shot, both Coopers came to the hub and spoke with Hub Manager Carla Gabbard.
“I told Carla that I needed a job and she gave me an option to come in the next day to actually fill out applications,” he says, adding that he was slightly apprehensive about working as a teleworker in the beginning.
“Honestly, I didn’t want to be a home agent,” Cooper admits, laughing. “I didn’t know how well I could deal with people.”
Cooper took a leap of faith and returned with his wife that next day to apply for available teleworks positions at a variety of global and nationwide companies that Teleworks USA partners with.
“Not even five hours after that, we got told we got hired with Comcast Support,” he says, adding that he and his wife were able to utilize the hub’s facilities to work from home even though their home didn’t have adequate internet service.
Four months into their employment, the Coopers hit a roadblock, though, when Jai lost his job. He tried for the next few weeks to find a new job on his own, and that’s when Gabbard reached out to him to let him know she could assist him if he was on the job hunt again.
“She helps out tremendously. She’s always there to help. If we have any questions, she’s always there,” he says.
Gabbard was able to help Cooper land another telework job, this time through WellCare, and he started in March 2019.
“I love it. I love dealing with the older people, I love dealing with everybody that calls in,” he says. “They’ll sit there and crack you up for hours.”
Cooper says he expected his life to be very different when he pictured it before moving to Kentucky.
“I never thought I’d be doing a job like this in Owsley County. . . (I thought I’d be) working in a scrap yard,” he says. “When I started working from the hub, it’s a lot easier than working from home because you’ve got the sounds knocked down better—I kind of love it.”
Remembering his previous attitude towards working with the public, Cooper recommends anyone who is in need of a job to give Teleworks USA a try—even if you may not be a people-person.
“Give it a shot because you don’t know what you’ll ever do and how you feel about it unless you try it,” Cooper says.
To find out more about Teleworks USA and how you can get connected with a legitimate work-from-home job, click here or contact your nearest Teleworks USA Hub today. As an initiative of EKCEP, Teleworks USA’s employment services are completely free of charge.
Since 2015, Teleworks USA Hubs in Hazard, Hyden, Annville, Beattyville, Booneville, Harlan, Louisa, and Pike County have helped bring jobs to more than 2,200 Eastern Kentuckians, and those positions carry an estimated $49 million in economic impact in new annual wages to teleworkers across the Eastern Kentucky Coalfields.
EKCEP, a Grassroots Partner of SOAR, is a nonprofit workforce development agency headquartered in Hazard, Ky. They serve 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. To learn more about their organization, please click here or visit their Facebook page.