RICHMOND, Virginia – You may remember Ken Cook, his history We brought you with us last month.
When I asked him at the time if he could speak to Commissioner Ellen Marie Hess of the Virginia Employment Commission, what would he say to her, he replied brightly: “On the damn phone! Get someone who really wants to work and get paid!”
The Vietnam veteran’s months of frustration with the VEC had long since reached its boiling point. But his story touched a lot of viewers, one of whom opened a GoFundme account that raised over a thousand dollars.
Cook needed the money to eat and to keep the roof over his head.
“It really helped me. I was broke,” said Cook. “I didn’t have two nickels to rub against each other and these people really, really helped me. I thanked him repeatedly on the GoFundMe site.”
A grateful cook said he was not looking for handouts; he just wanted the VEC to do its job.
Then a breakthrough came earlier this week: Cook said the VEC phone system’s much-derided callback option actually worked and that he was talking to someone who could actually help him.
“At eight in the morning I had 1,174 people in front of me,” said Cook. “And you have… [back] with me at two in the afternoon. And so we got everything in order. I’ll meet with the deputy and we’ll go through everything, but the woman said she’s pretty hopeful. You’re pretty sure I’ll fix everything and I’ll get all of my salary back for Mai. “
Cook says he trusts the thousands of dollars owed him since last year, according to the VEC, will get through without stress-related hospital visits to fix his pacemaker.
“Oh lord, it will mean I can get all of my bills and mortgage,” he said. “Because I’m a month behind on my mortgage and I’ll be using GoFundMe to get my mortgage.”
If the VEC pulls through, Cook says he now has a different message for the embattled agency.
“You do things that you should have done a year ago, but now you do,” Cook said. “And you know, I’ll give two thumbs up now, you’re doing a really good job. “
We’ll definitely follow up after the bank holiday weekend and post an update here.