Basically my experience was trying to find a job with my background issues. I wasn’t successful at all. It was really hard. I was filling out five or six job applications every day. Even doing things that I normally wouldn’t try to do for a better job, such as fast food. I’ve never been in fast food, but I always knew that fast food would hire someone with a felony. I tried to do fast food, but fast food wasn’t even calling me back! It was a struggle, and I have a daughter.
As far as my criminal background, I am a convicted felon. It was very hard to find a job as a convicted felon. Before I had gotten convicted, I always worked and had a job, but this time I had been convicted, so I was out of work for two years.
To stay on Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), you have to go through a program called TIE—Transition to Independence and Employment. That’s a program that’s in the Goodwill®, so I had to be referred into it by my social worker.
I didn’t come in with a positive attitude. I was more like, “Ugh, I gotta be in here.” But once I saw how much the program offered, how much it would help me as far as finding a job, as far as being a great person. After the second day, I more eased into the program.
During my work training, I have learned skills like how to build my own résumé—I didn’t have any idea how to do that at first. We did budgeting classes, like workshops—I learned how to actually budget. You would be amazed at the little things you spend money on, and the budgeting class actually opened my eyes up to that. We had nutrition classes to help me and my daughter eat more healthy.
As far as transition from volunteering into employment now, I actually did such a wonderful job when I was volunteering—I was sorting 5,000 signs. It was a special project that they thought would take me a week, but it only took me a day. Once they saw the good work I had done, they offered me a job.
They asked, “Do you want a job?” I said, “Of course!” I did 5,000 signs—I wanted a job bad. I felt great when they asked me that. I said, “Sure! Why not?”
Now my job title is sales associate. I work in the outlet. It’s a Goodwill store, but it’s actually an outlet—we weigh things as opposed to selling things at a set price.
I would like to achieve my general educational development (GED) certificate. I would like to go to school for human services and become a case manager, like my former case manager from the TIE program. I basically want to become a case manager to inspire people—to help people and inspire people like she did for me. It meant a lot to me to actually support my daughter now that I am employed. To give her the things she needs, that means more to me than anything in the world. Definitely want to thank Goodwill for that.
I would tell people who follow in my footsteps, just apply yourself and keep going and keep moving. Do not let anything stop you. Do not let anything get in your way as far as your dreams, your success, and your achievements.
This is my story, but this is not the end of my story. You will see more to come from me, I promise.