When Christina Carpenter moved to Rosine and enrolled in the Owensboro Community & Technical College Ready to Work and Work and Learn programs, she was at the end of her rope. The recently divorced single mother of five was a high school dropout, had no car, no job and was in need of a change.
Through Ready to Work, a partnership between the Kentucky Community and Technical College System and the Cabinet for Health and Family Services, low-income parents receive assistance while enrolled in community college. The Work and Learn program offers those same services, and coordinates with adult education to help GED students transition to the community college.
By utilizing these programs, Carpenter was able to obtain a job at the HUB in Hartford, a business incubator offered through the Ohio County Economic Development Alliance. She is paid through OCTC’s work study program and takes a full semester of classes.
“I’ve always been a waitress or worked in retail or something like that,” she said. “I have never done anything like this before, so I have learned a lot in a short amount of time, and I’m still learning.”
She said there was a transitional period when she first began working at the HUB when she had to research a lot of the tasks that were asked of her, but with patience and perseverance she was able to master them and contribute to the facility’s function. It’s been a learning experience every step of the way, she said, which has been challenging but fun, and has opened up a window of opportunity for her she may never have explored.
For example, she now knows she wants to pursue a career in information technology.
“I’m really thankful for these programs,” she said.
She said the OCTC staff with Ready to Work and Work and Learn are “rooting for you” because “they want you to succeed so they will do everything they can to help you.”
Karri Calhoun, coordinator for the Work and Learn program, said both programs were first offered by the school in 2000, and that each year they assist about 60 people.
She said Carpenter first began in the Work and Learn program and now is in involved in Ready to Work, and the programs are designed with single mothers in mind.
“We try to help our students find jobs that will work around their school schedule, but also day care hours,” Calhoun said. “We try to get everything into the day before their child is out of day care (or school.)”
Calhoun said these programs are important for the community because they are intended to help provide employers with better equipped workers.
“We provide job-readiness and life skills,” Calhoun said. “We are trying to get these families not only self-sufficient, but also ready to work once they complete their education.