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Bladen JobLink WIA client sings praises of the program

Source Date: April 30, 2013

Bladen JobLink's WIA (Workforce Investment Act) program has been a godsend for many area residents over the years, but perhaps none appreciate it more than Denise Owens, who recently began her "new career" as a result of training she received through program assistance.

"The program (WIA) made it possible for me to go back to school at a time in my life when I was ready to return to the full-time workforce," she said, candidly. "Without it, I'm not sure it would have been possible for me to get the training I needed to get the job I now have."

A native and resident of White Oak, Denise graduated from Tar Heel High School in 1981. After graduating, she earned an associate degree in business from Rutledge College, a private school in Fayetteville, but was unable to find employment in the field. Denise drove a school bus for a while before deciding to return to school in an effort to learn a new skill. She qualified for services through the Vocational Rehab Program and enrolled in the Certified Nursing Assistant, Level One (CNA-1) course at Bladen Community College. She worked in the field for approximately one year after completing the training.

She was unemployed for a period before returning to the workforce at Smithfield Foods, where she worked until 1997. She left Smithfield after finding employment with the North Carolina Department of Transportation, a job she held for the next eight years. Denise married in 2005 and left the workforce for several years.

"I got tired of staying at home and wanted to return to work, but could not find satisfactory employment," she explained. "I had wanted to get back into the medical field but it had been a long time since I had completed the CNA-1 program and, because of advances in the field over the years, I felt I needed to take the CAN-1 course again. I returned to school at BCC and completed the CNA-1 program again.

"I knew that I would have more options if I earned a CNA-2 certificate, and checked into the WIA (Workforce Investment Act) program to see if I qualified for assistance to complete the course. I already knew about WIA because I knew one of the WIA counselors at the Bladen County JobLink Center.

"I soon signed up for the program, and with the assistance I obtained through WIA, I was able to complete my CNA-2 certificate in December 2012. I was hired by Cape Fear Valley Medical Center in Fayetteville on March 25, and am now working in a job that is both interesting and fulfilling," she added.

Denise is very complimentary about the assistance she received from the staff in the WIA program.

"The counselor-Gloria Purdie-encouraged and supported me throughout the process, as did Ms. (Katrina) Harbison (WIA Program Director)," she said. "I am very grateful for the support I received. Without their assistance and encouragement, I would probably not have been able to do it."

Denise and her husband have two children, a grown son and a seven-year-old.