Etheredge, family see benefits through telecommuting

Donna McCarty Etheredge wanted to raise her children at home and still work.

The 1998 Frenship High School graduate found the answer after listening to a telemarketing call and went to work for the Medicaid program.

“Basically, I was an outreach counselor and called on Medicaid clients,” said Etheredge, who lives in the Dallas metroplex. “I informed them about their benefits and helped them choose a doctor and a health plan. Basically, I was on the phone all day long. I went to their homes once or twice a week if I couldn’t reach them by phone.”

The job has paid off for Etheredge.

“I just got promoted to the supervisor position in July. I’ve been there for five years,” she said.

Etheredge is part of a growing number of work-at-home employees called telecommuters.

Instead of going to an office in a central location, telecommuters work flexible hours out of their homes.

“It was really interesting because I had children at home,” said Etheredge. “The work never stopped. I would be with the kids and go back working. I’d work until 9 or 10 at night. It actually was very challenging, but it was worth it because I was able to be at home with the kids.”

She said telecommuting saved the family at the gas pump and “it saved on clothes,” she said. “I didn’t have to have office clothes or gas or the time I spend on the commute. As soon as I sat in my chair, my day started. It was really different to get used to a commute, which is 30 minutes for me.”

Her husband, Cole, was happy with the telecommuting position because it offered Donna a challenge.

Etheredge now works in an office. Her two children, Kylie, 9, and Caulter, 6, are in school. Working in an office has its advantages, too, she said.

“Now when I leave the office, I am done,” said Etheredge. “I am out of the office a lot and do a lot of traveling to work with staff.”

Etheredge had to adjust to work away from home. She said talking to people one-on-one is different than in person.

“When you are on the phone, it seems you are a little braver, than when you are face-to-face,” said Etheredge. “No one was mean. Everybody was very appreciative when I came to their home to talk to them.”

Telecommuting benefits employers by creating less business overhead at their office, according to a story on TMCnet.com.

Etheredge said when she worked at home, she communicated through instant messaging and e-mails.

“There was constant e-mails all day long,” she said. “We have started IM’ing more through some new software, but most of the time it’s e-mails. I even e-mail my boss and she is in the next room.”

Etheredge likes her supervisory role.

“I enjoy encouraging people. It also has been difficult because I have to discipline,” she said. “It’s also very rewarding because when you come full circle, everybody’s happy doing their job.”

Today, Cole is proud of Donna for earning her supervisory position. “He knows I worked hard to earn that position. He’s very proud,” she said.

Etheredge, who attended Wayland Baptist University, said she plans to go back to college and earn a degree either in psychology or nursing.

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