Life is certainly a tumultuous ride. As children, we are all sold the same dream: get good grades in secondary school, go to college and, in turn, you will be able to attain the life you always envisioned. What no one tells you is that everything in life has a cost, and if you are not capable of keeping up with its demands, the interest accrued can leave you in the negative in every aspect of your life. Here’s my story.
I did not come from a well-to-do family, but the one advantage that I had growing up was natural talent, tenacity and the ability to work hard. My capability to overperform on the football field led me to the NCAA Division I Football Championship Subdivision competitor Sam Houston State Bearkats as a defensive end. I had two of the best coaches to attribute honing my skills: Houston Oilers’ superstars Earl Campbell and Billy “White Shoes” Johnson. Tunnel vision thus far led to success, so the NFL was the obvious next chapter in life. However, I broke my collarbone before I could even begin to taste the career I was working so hard toward. My scholarship was pulled, and I was forced to withdraw from university.
What was next? The answer that most young Americans choose, including me, was to join the military. Why? If you are not privy, the American military aids in millions of our citizens receiving free college tuition through the Post-9/11 GI Bill. Originally, I served as a fighter jet mechanic and later went on tour as an antiterrorist warfare specialist in the Persian Gulf War. Upon returning to the states, my love life, unfamiliarity of the civilian world and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) took a turn for the worse.
I could not get a hold of my reality. To cope, drugs and alcohol became my dependents and homelessness overtook my life. What had my existence become? The question I came face to face with while wandering aimlessly for 12 years wrecked my brain. It is hard to look at your own reflection when you have lost your drive and will to live. It was not until I applied for housing at the Midtown Terrace Apartments and noticed a Goodwill Houston (TX) office located nearby. The Goodwill® employment specialist, Alicia, greeted me by saying, “Mr. Alexander.” She will never understand the ego boost that was implanted in my psyche is completely priceless.
With the help of the Goodwill and the Homeless Veterans’ Reintegration Program, my résumé showcased my ability to perform in the construction industry. I attended counseling and job training classes and learned how to use a computer to prepare me for my upcoming interview. During my first few weeks on the job, Goodwill was able to provide clothing and the specialized tools I needed to excel in my first professional job in construction.
Years passed, and the economy became a bit strapped for cash. I was laid off, but with the support and love of my wife, Kathy, fate led me to fluidly transition into being the overseer of my own success. In 2013, I founded Faith Construction and Demolition. I am proud to say that we now have 10 full-time employees, three trucks and tools – including my prized possession, the tools from Goodwill.
Goodwill propelled me to transcend, and I could not help but jump at the opportunity to give back to my community as well. I began by helping the homeless youth at Goodwill Houston. Serving as a Life Launch mentor, with my company used as training site, reminds me that life comes full circle. We give young adults the chance to prepare for a career in construction. I also aid as an advisor to the City of Houston on the issues facing homeless individuals and families and helping community leaders envision better solutions. Volunteering at the church that kindly sheltered me for years with their outside awnings is the icing on the cake. Goodwill gave me a second chance at life when nothing seemed possible.
Thank you, Goodwill.