Cynthia Good and Stephanie Kling – A Tale of Two Friends
This is a tale of two friends, both of whom worked at Wrangler and were laid off in early 2006. Cynthia A. Good and Stephanie Kling were just two of many who found themselves in a precarious situation when a corporate downsizing occurred in Luray. Both of them had worked a combined total of more than 25 years at the plant and didn’t know what they would do next.
Fortunately, the Luray-Page County Center had just opened and both these women and others employees who experienced layoffs were able to attend Lord Fairfax Community College through the Federal Trade Act Program. Initiated in 1974, the program provides aid to workers who lost their jobs or whose hours of work and wages are reduced as a result of increased imports, according to the U.S. Department of Labor. Displaced workers can receive a two-year degree or retraining that will place them directly into the workforce. A number of Wrangler employees who needed to support their families by learning a new skill came to the recently opened Luray-Page County Center in 2006. Ironically, the building location on North Hawksbill Street was the former Wrangler Annex.
“We never missed class and always had our homework, especially those of us attending under the Trade Act because if we missed class, we had a lot of paperwork to fill out,” Good said. “I think one of the most interesting things is how I worked at Wrangler, lost my job there and attended classes in a building that Wrangler once owned.”
Good and Kling took classes at the Luray-Page County Center, and also at the Middletown Campus of LFCC. They carpooled to class with each other and former colleagues who had lost their jobs during the workforce reduction. Trade Act also provided them with money for gasoline to get to and from classes at the Middletown Campus during the transition.
Kling had worked at Wrangler as an inspector, and had been at the plant since she was 17. She had two children to support and so she chose a two-year degree in accounting. During her time as a student, she had an office internship with the local McDonald’s where she learned about payroll and corporate accounting. She worked for local surveyor Archie Dodson upon completing her degree and in March 2008, began working at Racey Engineering P. L. L. C. in Luray. She started as an administrative assistant and has worked her way up as the assistant financial officer.
“We are incredibly proud of Stephanie,” said her employer Patrick Racey. “She came in here and took on anything we gave her. She is an extremely hard worker. She has worked her way up to assistant financial officer in a family owned business.”
Some of her duties include timesheets and payroll for 24-26 employees, invoicing, collections, maintaining company books for yearly audits, and helping to establish the company as a SWAM Vendor and Virginia Microbusiness. The company does both private work and also government contracts, so she is consistently busy and never idle.
“There is always so much to do,” Kling said. “I have been here for eight years, and without schooling I would have had no clue.”
Kling graduated from LFCC in 2007 with an associate of applied science degree in accounting. A year later, in 2008, Good graduated from LFCC. She decided at that time to continue her education and become a public school teacher. So her educational journey continued mainly because she was a single mother and wanted a career that better fit her schedule. She remembered when she worked at Wrangler that it had been difficult at times to find childcare for her then eight-year-old during peak production times.
“I decided to pick a career that would align more closely to his schedule,” Good said.
So she attended two more semesters at LFCC obtaining a general studies degree. Good then transferred to Mary Baldwin College in the adult degree program where she majored in history with a minor in early elementary education. She is currently a fifth grade teacher at Luray Elementary School.
“Never doubt yourself or put off your decision to go back to school,” Good said. “There is no goal you can set for yourself that is not attainable. I will admit, it was difficult and there times when personal matters had me thinking of dropping out because the pressure was too great from outside issues.”
Good credits the small size of the Luray-Page County Center and people like former Academic Advisor Dr. Eddie Walker with her ability to be able to stay in college. She said that Walker would talk to her and the professors and they would find a solution when issues occurred.
“I felt like I had a lot to prove, not only to myself, but my children and my family. I wanted them all to be proud,” she said.
Kling remembers her time at the Luray-Page County Center fondly.
“We had some great teachers,” she said. “They were to the point, and we had to study. Sometimes we would come to the Center and study. I was thirty when I started to college and was in the first class that graduated from the Center.”
The tale of two friends continues as they talk and visit frequently although they have chosen different career paths. But their LFCC Luray-Page County Center experience is a positive common bond that was life-changing for both.