Opportunity knocks: Mid-South woman heads back to work following tough times

Life over the last year has been difficult for Evelyn Oates.

Since losing her job in 2007, she has also lost her home, is knee-deep in debt and is barely making ends meet.

With more than 25 years of experience as an administrative secretary, Oates wondered how she could have ended up in such a tough position.

"We don't all wanna work in a factory. We don't all want to work in warehouses," she said. "We have skills. We're qualified. Let us work."

But thanks to a caring Action News 5 viewer, Oates may be headed back to work.

"I'm a single parent and I heard her struggle in her voice," said Tracie Wood, Director of Workforce Planning & Inclusion for First Tennessee Bank.

Woods saw Oates on the evening news, and felt compelled to reach out.

"Hearing what she had to say as related to her credentials had me to believe she could potentially be a good employee."                                
The two women met to review Oates' resume to see if she qualified for one of the 200 open positions at the bank.

"She was just so excited that she could actually help me," said Oates." It made me excited and pumped up all day."

Woods recognized that Oates had skills that might fit with the bank's needs.

"After I heard her kind of walk through her story and what she could do, I recognized there are several opportunities that could be a potential fit for her."
Oates hopes to get back on her feet very soon, and looks forward to the future. "To me, working is everything. That's your life. If you can't work, it just does something to you as a person, so I'm excited."

Oates is just one of many Mid-Southerners in search of a job. According to the National Bureau of Employment, the unemployment rate for Shelby County is at 7.1 percent -  
well above the state and national average.

Click here to e-mail Jamel Major.