KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — You may have used a vending machine at a courthouse or public college or rest stop or even at a jail. If you did, you probably supported a small business that runs those machines.
One East Tennessee business owner really appreciates the program that gave her a jump start on success.
"The first thing we do when we pull into the parking lot is say a prayer. And then we start our day," Cyndi Colley said.
They also start their day with a kiss. The Cyndi and her husband Eddie Colley get to work.
Walters State Community College in Sevierville is one stop on their vending machine route.
"There's a lot of lifting. There's a lot of moving. A lot of keeping count, your stock, inventory, ordering. There is lot to it just not filling machines. And she does the majority of that. I do the heavy stuff," Eddie said.
Cyndi said, "I don't know what I would do without him."
Eddie also checks expiration dates and he drives.
Cyndi said, "I have absolutely no peripheral vision whatsoever. And as far as the front vision it is 20/400."
She applied to own her own business through Tennessee Business Enterprises (TBE). It offers vending and food service employment opportunities at government buildings for people who are legally blind.
She enrolled in a 15-week program that is offered by and paid for through Vocational Rehabilitation. Lions Volunteer Blind Industries in Morristown hosts that program.
She completed the course and was granted a license that allows her to bid on available vending operations in state and federal buildings.
Cyndi really enjoyed the specialized business training at LVBI.
"They are still there for you if you ever need anything. They are always willing to help you in any way that they can," she said.
The program not only helped Cyndi establish her own business but also her mother and her two sisters.
"We have a hereditary eye disease: macular degeneration," she said.
"It's non-correctable and all the females in our family have it back as far as records show."
They started out in vending but have moved on to run food commissaries at jails.
"If we could get into commissary that would be great," she said.
For now, it's great to own her own business and to start the workday with a prayer and a kiss.
"Our grandkids are like ya'll stop."