The Gift of Employment: C3 Workers Are Greatful Business Located in Twin Falls
Originally in The Magic Valley Times-News, 12-15-2010
Written by Blair Koch
Twin Falls, ID: An hourlong commute to and from work would make many rethink their employment situation.
Not Chuck Hollingsworth, who lives in Glenns Ferry and works at the C3 call center in TwinFalls as a supervisor.
He, like many of the center’s 900 employees, had spent months sowing for work but reaping little.
The soft-spoken 58-year-old with kind, dark eyes has experienced many blows over the past year.
He rattles off the tragedies: his wife, Loraine, suffered a heart attack and was taken by air ambulance from their home to Boise for emergency surgery; a brain aneurism took his brother; and Hollingsworth was diagnosed with slow-growing prostate cancer, caused from Agent Orange exposure during a Vietnam tour with the Army.
“I had to take a leave of absence from work,” Hollingsworth said. “I had to take care of my family, myself.”
The timing couldn’t have been worse.
The bank where he had been employed didn’t hold his position, leaving him unemployed.
Health insurance premiums through the COBRA program, which allows people to stay on their former employer’s group health plan, were too expensive.
When his wife suffered her heart attack the couple were not insured; they’ll be paying off the six-digit medical bills for years.
The couple scraped by for months on unemployment checks and what was left in his retirement investments, which lost nearly 70 percent of their value when the stock market crashed.
Fifteen weeks’ worth of unemployment benefits came and went swiftly.
Desperation set in.
“I really thought I was washed up,”Hollingsworth said. “I know that employers aren’t looking at age, but Ireally thought that with my pre-existing conditions and age that I wouldn’t find work. Iwas like, ‘Give me a broom, I’ll do anything.’”
And then, C3 announced it was hiring and Hollingsworth applied.
He was one of the first 25 employees brought on board.
Today, the center has about 900 on payroll.
“I can’t tell you how that made me feel, that they embraced me — even knowing my situation,” Hollingsworth said.
With his wife’s ongoing cardiac care, the health insurance benefits offered to C3’s employees has given the couple peace of mind.
“We’re in recovery mode right now,” he said.
As the company boosted its recruitment and added employees, Hollingsworth’s job included training new hires through the summer.
“After sharing my personal story, all these hands would go up,”he said. “These classes had 40 to 70 people in them and many shared testimonies. We have single moms who were struggling, people who had been looking for work, people who didn’t qualify for unemployment ... we all share something and Ithink that has created a kinship and camaraderie that’s unique.
“I’m probably a better employee than I’ve ever been; I’m not saying I was a bad employee before but now, I’m so glad to have a place to go. I’m appreciative to be here everyday.”
Jason Capps, 22, is grateful to the center as well.
With a fiancee in TwinFalls and a wedding to plan for, Capps had been trying to find a job in the area for months so he could move back from Pocatello.
“I had applied online but never heard from them, so I made the drive up from Pocatello to talk to someone in person,”said Capps, who works as a customer service representative.
An interview later, Capps was given a job offer.
“We’re getting married on March 11,” Capps said. “If it hadn’t been for this job our wedding would have been delayed.”
Christmas will be extra special this year, now that the couple aren’t separated by hundred of miles.
C3 Supervisor Aubrey Cheney said the mix of people who had just months ago been in precarious states has led to a workforce more than willing to “pay it forward.”
A company food drive last month brought in more than 1,500 pounds of groceries donated to area food banks for Thanksgiving.
This month, the center has “adopted” more than a dozen area families it will provide Christmas presents for.
“Our people readily identify with others in need,” Cheney said. “There is so much enthusiasm.”
Merriment and cheer is apparent throughout C3’s decorated cubicle spaces. There is little doubt the festive feelings are overflowing on the home front, too.