January 1, 2008 I was working for an upscale custom log home manufacturer in Kodak. The economy was booming. Life was good and going according to plan. January 30, 2008, I was diagnosed with breast cancer. Soon after, the housing market began to falter. This was not according to plan. So I began a 16-month cancer journey. It was a tough road. I worked all I could between surgeries and Chemotherapy. At that time I was wondering how I was going to get to radiation treatments in Knoxville and still work in Kodak without missing a lot of work.
As the economy got worse, I worried about everything. Then on June 20, 2008, I was told I would be getting laid off work. Well, no need to worry about missing more time from work. I was eligible for unemployment payments under President Obama’s policies. This was a life saver. I was able to have time to complete my treatments and have some money coming in to the household.
Being unemployed, I also had more time to think and reflect about how I had spent my life so far. I had worked for one of the richest families in Sevier County. This served to make a living, but it really just helped them get richer. After that I had worked at the most exclusive Country Club in Knoxville. This also served to make a living for myself, but really just made rich people more comfortable and entertained. The common thread between these two jobs were they only helped the rich people.
I started praying that if I survived this cancer and could return to working, could I do something for a greater good? Could I find a job that made some one’s life better? Something that would benefit the community. So I started praying to God “Please lord, let me find a job that will make a positive impact in some one’s life.” Now I knew I was not brave enough, nor did I have the qualifications to directly help most people. After I was just an accounting nerd. I could balance their check book if they needed, or help form a business plan. But how could that be of any help? But I still kept praying my prayer.
Fast forward to July 9, 2009. I have survived all the treatments and have finally been told, “YOU HAVE FINISHED ALL YOUR TREATMENTS! YOU ARE DONE!”
It was time to look for a new job. The log home manufacturer I had worked for had closed. So I started looking in the newspaper, on line, job service and any other way I could think of to find a new job. I found several accounting job available. But I still wanted that perfect job, for a greater good. Since I was still receiving unemployment, I could take my time to find the right job.
As I looked at the listings, I would research the employer to see what their business was. At first I only sent out two resumes. One to the Patricia Neal Center, and one to this place called Helen Ross McNabb Center. I knew what the Neal center was, but I had to look up McNabb. All it took to know that I would like to be part of McNabb was they work with foster children and have a Therapeutic Preschool (whatever that was). Both called me for an interview. Wow, both called! After my interviews I felt good about Neal and McNabb. So I prayed “Lord lead me to where you want me.” But after a week I had not heard back from either one. I started to look again. I was getting nervous because I only had two weeks of unemployment left. I needed a job quick. Another week passes, and I have not heard anything from either of these jobs. I may have to go to work at Dollywood so I won’t starve.
I had given up and was going to just find a job that would pay the bills. The next day as I was getting ready to go out to pound the Pigeon Forge pavement for a job, my phone rings. It was The Helen Ross McNabb center offering me the accounts payable job. I was given a start date, that just so happed to be the day after my unemployment ended.
I started my McNabb story on August 19, 2009. The first five years here I was in accounts payable. Then when I found out there was a new position in Human Resources that would help the employees with FMLA and workers comp, I realized that is how I can actually have an impact on a person’s life. And trust me, I begged for this job. I thought about all the people that have helped me when I have been sick or hurt and I want to be that person for someone else.
I hope that I can help support all of my fellow McNabb co-workers. The work you do in the communities and for our clients to “improve the lives of those we serve” makes me proud to be a small part of McNabb. After almost 13 ½ years, I never want to work anywhere else. I love this place.
Pam Williams, Leave Specialist
Employee since 2009