Charlene Cox, Brenda Smith:
Two Friends Share the Journey from Lay-offs to New Lives.

“I know with perseverance and hard work, I can do anything I choose.”

Charlene Cox and Brenda Smith had been friends for more than 30Carlene Cox and Brenda Smith years when the plant they both worked at in Boone, NC closed its doors. The lay-offs robbed the women of their security, peace of mind and financial livelihood, but it could not take their friendship. Cox and Smith both started working at Shadowline, a plant that manufactured ladies’ lingerie, in the 1970s as young women and despite the repetitive, physically demanding work, both women were counting on their jobs at Shadowline for their security and livelihood. But, in October 2003, the women learned that Shadowline would be closing its doors before the end of the year.

In the midst of much confusion and fear, the ladies began to sort our their options. Both say that getting an education became their clear choice. Smith began working toward her High School Equivalency and within a few months had completed her high school equivalency. From there, both ladies enrolled in the medical office administration associates degree program on the Watauga Campus of CCC&TI. Cox and Smith eventually earned their degrees at CCC&TI and both were able to find employment with the Department of Health and Human Services at the Division of Vocational Rehabilitation and Independent Living Office in Boone.

For these two friends, the changes they feared most ultimately brought them a better life. “All the changes I have gone through have made me a much stronger and more confident person,” says Cox. “I know with perseverance and hard work, I can do anything I choose.” And for the many people in our community who are facing similar circumstances, Cox always has a word of encouragement: “Remember change can be good and sometimes you can get your biggest blessings from your darkest hour.”