Debbie Watson believes in the American dream. Not only does she believe it, she is determined to keep it alive. Her dream is to drive a better car, find time to read a book, go to a movie or just relax and unwind for a day. None of which is currently within her reach, and for the next 15 months, it doesn’t look any better for this 56-year-old single parent with two grown children at home.
Life seemed pretty good working at Corbin’s Clothing during the 1990s. Better than average pay, good benefits, the luxury of a 40-hour work week. Even the 30-minute drive from Crown City didn’t seem all that expensive. Then downsizing began, the hours were cut back along with a reduction in pay. By 1999, a 20-hour work week with minimum wages was hardly enough for utilities and groceries.
“I just didn’t know what to do. There were bills coming in, and the money was no longer there to pay them. I was forced to declare bankruptcy. I felt so ashamed to do it, but I didn’t feel there was any other way out,” said Watson, who was then forced to depend on food stamps for basic necessities.
Struggling from job to job, trying to find something of substance, Watson heard of a Marshall University program called WIA, a federally funded workforce developing program that offered degree programs at the community college. She graduated with a 3.8 grade point average in Health Information. Watson had now made one giant step in her climb back up the mountain.
It wasn’t long after graduation that Watson was given a job at HealthSouth. It wasn’t the position she had hoped for — but she took it anyway.
“I worked in the kitchen at Health South for over three years. During this period, every time a job came open in the Record’s Department, I would apply. I kept on applying every time they advertised that position. I also made sure my application was updated to keep it current. Finally, the day came. I was hired,” said Watson, who now has aspirations of climbing even further up that mountain.
Currently, Watson’s face is as bright as the new attitude she appears to carry with her. Despite working two full-time jobs for the last 24 months, she has now set her target on another goal: a career in nursing.
“I have always loved helping people. Being around patients at HealthSouth, talking to them, assisting them with their needs has all helped me to understand that I enjoy this type of environment,” she said.
Watson currently works full time at HealthSouth and another full shift at Kentucky Fried Chicken on U.S. Route 60. A typical day might begin at HealthSouth from 8 a.m. until 4:30 p.m., then KFC from 5 p.m. until closing. She has done this in an attempt to save money for the 15-month nursing program which begins in January at Collins Career Center in Ohio.
“When school starts, I will leave KFC and work during the day at HealthSouth while attending evening classes at Collins Career Center. I really want to thank the staff at KFC. They are wonderful in understanding what I’m doing and been most supportive in letting me work any shift I can. Also, my supervisor at HealthSouth, Teresa Adkins. She is a most gracious individual who has supported me since the very beginning,” she said.
In addition to working with very understanding people, Watson is blessed with another support system — family. Her daughter cleans the house, does the shopping, washes clothes and generally helps in any way she can. Her son bought new tires for her car and does general repairs around the house when something breaks. With this type of family unity, Watson is closer to the top of the mountain than she may realize.
Yes, Watson has a dream. She also has the support of her children to reach it. They shop at Goodwill because it stretches the budget. They clip coupons and look for bargains at the grocery store. This Christmas, they bought a few gifts and spent the rest on a holiday meal that they enjoyed together as a family.
If success is measured by the effort required to obtain it, this is a story of very successful family.(source)
health services management career