Goodwill Industries International, Inc.

    My Story

    Kelle Wright
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    My Story: Kelle Wright

    Before I came to work at Goodwill® of the Greater East Bay, my life wasn’t exactly easy. I became addicted to drugs at a young age, and I used them off and on for many years. Despite my struggles, I was able to get some good job skills, including some management experience. That didn’t stop me from hitting rock bottom — that happened after getting arrested for drug sales and possession.

    The three years I spent in a maximum security prison for women were probably the best thing that ever happened to me. Drugs and alcohol are readily available in prison for those who want them. Instead, I chose to immerse myself in a vocational course and every self-help course I could get.

    I was given a list of resources to take with me when I got out of prison that included information as to where to get a driver’s license, a social security card and only a couple of places of where a person could potentially find work. Goodwill was one of the names on the list.

    I had been out of prison for about a week, and I was driving down the road with my stepmother. We passed a Goodwill store and she said, “Why don’t you go in there and try and get a job?”


    I met the manager of the Vacaville Goodwill store and she took me up to her office. She said I was exactly what Goodwill looks for, so she sent me to apply at the Goodwill Academy in Fairfield, CA, and within a week I was accepted into the program, which gives paid training and case management.

    Within 15 days of being released from prison, I was a trainee in the Vacaville Goodwill store. I was so happy to be working I would have done anything to prove myself including working long hours.

    After all my past experiences I know two things: I need sobriety and I need to work. I did both of those things and now I am a self-supporting member of society. Goodwill is all about giving second chances and that is what Goodwill did for me, they gave me a second chance. They don’t give a hand out, they give a hand up. Here I am five years later, five promotions later, Kelle Wright, director of sales and operations for Goodwill of the Greater East Bay.

    Hear more stories from people like Kelle. »

    Learn how Goodwill helps people with criminal backgrounds transition back into the workforce. »

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    • Katherine
      May 21st, 2011 at 12:43 pm

      I love to hear stories like these. Although that initial training and first job are so crucial to getting on the right track after incarceration, it takes a lot of drive and determination to achieve this kind of long-term success. What a long way you’ve come, Kelle! Great job!

    • Roger
      November 17th, 2011 at 11:42 am

      That’s all fine and dandy if you have the time but in today’s economy there’s no time to train for a job and most employers don’t want to do that and most of them find you a threat if you already have experience and age has a lot to do with it. I’m almost 50 and can’t find work but if i was 30 or younger no problem so you see there is age discrimination out there and employers know this but won’t admit it and if they did they’d have to admit it. So if someone tells you there’s no age discrimination out there they are dead wrong! I’ve haven’t had a job in 2 years,so do the math!

    • Maria
      April 6th, 2012 at 8:17 pm

      Great story- Keep it up Kellie and I’m glad Goodwill helps people. I just donated a small bag today but I always give Goodwill whenever I have anything that is worth giving.

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