In 2016 Glenn Mason was having difficulties with his ear as it would continuously drain and bleed. He went to an ENT and found out he had a tumor. He had a mastoidectomy to remove the tumor. Once the ENT started the surgery there was more damage than anticipated. He had to rebuild his ear drum, incus bone, and malas bone. This caused more hearing loss than he previously had.
What was supposed to be a 45 minute procedure turned into four hours. He experienced severe complications after the surgery that was life changing. He could not walk for four weeks, he could not shower or use the restroom alone, his wife had to help him with everyday tasks, and he could not ride in a vehicle without getting car sick. Physical therapy was required twice a week, and doctors’ appointments were in Tennessee which was a two hour drive.
He was supposed to return to work one week later, but after the surgery Glenn received devastating news. He was told that since he couldn’t pass the DOT physical so he was unable to be a truck driver. This was the beginning of a downward spiral. Glenn became severely depressed. He had been the sole provider but relied on the help of his family just to put food on the table. He said, “I couldn’t provide for my family anymore. I felt like such a failure at this point. I went from making decent money to nothing. I was about to lose my cars, everything.” To try and help the situation, and avoid repossession, Glenn sold one of the vehicles. This immediately added to the list of stresses since they now only had one vehicle for transportation.
This not only affected Glenn, but also his wife and two children. Glenn said, “It was hard on her and my children emotionally and physically. For two months my wife had to assist me with everyday tasks. I couldn’t take care of myself in any way. Just like the worries I had she had them as well.”
Glenn was used to being the sole provider for his family and that had been taken away. He thought his wife may go back to work, but that was not possible since he still needed assistance for months. Glenn said, “I knew I had to do something. I signed up on SNAP benefits, and that was very hard for me. I never thought I would need this, but I had no choice. The process was long, and I felt like I should be out trying to find a job.” This is just one of the many things that effected his pride, but he was not about to give up. He was the go to person for help, but now he needed the help.
Glenn’s previous employer and physical therapist advised he sign up on disability. This was not an option for Glenn at such a young age. Glen was referred to the KCEOC Community Action Partnership KY Career Center Jobsight by the local unemployment office. He was unsure of what they do, but he knew he had to try because he was out of options and couldn’t do it on his own. When he was sent to the KCEOC Community Action Partnership KY Career Center Jobsight he was paired with Jacqueline Pillay, a Career Advisor, who enrolled him in the Community Impact program.
The Community Impact Program is for individuals who have been laid off and are receiving unemployment benefits. The program provides assistance for participants to go through a two year or less degree. Also, once the unemployment benefits have exhausted the program will continue to pay if funds are available.
When Glenn came to the Career Center with his wife and two children he was very nervous and unsure. Jacquline Pillay said, “He was very down and depressed when he came into the office. He was leery about going back to school at his age.
I knew that Glenn would be able to succeed from the moment I met him. He had the motivation, he just needed the confidence. There were many friends and family that were telling him just to get a job, but he did not listen to them and decided to go on with the program.” He already knew he wanted to be a respiratory therapist.
When Glenn got the call that he was approved for the program he was in disbelief and ecstatic. Jacqueline and Glenn completed an assessment to make sure what he wanted to do matched up with his interests. Glenn said, “Going back to school at my age was worrisome. I was going to be the oldest one in the class, but I did it. I loved the classes, and wanted to do something for my family to better our lives.”
Glenn did just that and excelled tremendously in his classes and clinicals at Southeast Kentucky Community and Technical College in Pineville, KY. He was recommended by many professors, graduated with a 3.7 GPA, and was one of the three people out of eight that passed the board test the first time. He also received awards for his excellent work from Southeast Kentucky Community Technical College. Those include; Academic Excellence, Outstanding Clinical Performance, two Work Ethics awards, and a HOSA Future Health Professionals participation award. He also received an invitation to the national HOSA conference in Dallas, TX twice. He is the first one in his family to go to college, so this was another of his many accomplishments.
After graduating in May 2019 he received an offer for a job at Saint Joseph Hospital in London, KY in July. Glenn said, “I was jumping for joy when I received that call that I was hired. My job makes me feel happy and excited when I go to work. I am now back on my feet and self-sufficient. People at work always ask why I am smiling, and I say when you have something taken away from you and you get back on your feet everything is incredible.”
Glenn said it was great going through the program. Instead of being depressed he was now excited for something and to see what the future bestowed. He now had a positive attitude because he has a new rewarding career. He said the program changed his way of thinking and gave him a positive perspective. He told his wife, “If people would take advantage of what the community has for them instead of giving up they could have a positive future and be self-sufficient.”
Glenn said, “When I quit driving the truck I was making good money. At my job now at Saint Joseph I’m making almost the same amount starting out. I believe God is blessing me, and showing me that I have things to look forward to in the future. I can provide for my family now. Truck driving is hard, but with my new career I can now spend time with my family.”
The experience makes Glenn appreciate what he has because in the blink of an eye it can be gone. He said, “The personal things can be taken away overnight.” Glenn is also a great role model to his children. His son was questioning whether he could go to college or not. After seeing his dad excel he is now considering going back to college.
One of the most inspiring things about Glenn is that he had a hidden learning disability. He made it all the way through high school unable to read or spell. He was ashamed and did not tell anyone about his disability. After high school his wife helped him overcome his disability and he went on to be a successful college graduate.
When asked what was one of the best parts of the program was he said working with Jacqueline. He said, “She changed my life tremendously, and is a great person. I would call about things and she would always be positive and helpful. She always believed in me when I didn’t believe in myself. I believe I am where I am today because of her help.”
Glenn said that in the future he sees himself going on to get his Bachelor’s degree. He wants to pursue teaching and move up the field in respiratory therapy. Also, he wants to be a positive light to others to let them know they can do whatever they put their minds to. He also wants to be closer to his family and help other people. Glenn said, “Where I had a second chance I want to help other people get one too.”
When asked about KCEOC Community Action Partnership Glenn said, “My overall experience at the KCEOC Community Action Partnership KY Career Center Jobsight was great. It provided the opportunity to go to college which is something I never thought I would be able to do. I received a ton of positive support from my case worker Jacqueline Pillay. The program helped me better mine and my family's lives. I will now be able to support my family much easier than before, giving my kids opportunities that were not available to me as a child growing up.”