My Story: Christopher Smallwood
When I was a junior in high school, I had the desire to have some independence and my own money. I got a part-time job working in a restaurant. This was the beginning of many disappointments. Because of my disabilities, I often needed extra guidance, which I did not receive. During my junior and senior year in high school, and after I graduated in 2005, I had numerous jobs and was fired from each one. This caused me to be depressed, angry and to have arguments with family members. I had no confidence in myself. I was not happy or independent at all.
In 2009, I started working for Rappahannock Goodwill Industries at the laundry, and I was piece rated for hanging sheets. The time I worked at the laundry, I continued to have problems with my attitude and following directions. I argued a lot and didn’t want to work there. I thought laundry was not a good fit for me, and I wanted to try something different. With their help, I went to the warehouse, where I priced and boxed items to get shipped to other Goodwill stores.
Soon I began going on the Fort AP Hill enclave. Because I received the help and support I needed, my confidence and attitude toward work and myself improved. I didn’t argue or have an attitude. I was very respectful. In 2012, I was working full time at AP Hill doing floor care and being a custodian. I also went to several other places such as laundry, retail, outlet and to our headquarters at 1414 Caroline Street.
I had a lot of support from my parents, case manager, supervisor and several staff members from Goodwill. They helped me create my own set of new goals. One of my most important goals is to be a supervisor of a cleaning crew. With the support I receive and a lot of hard work on my part, I know that one day this will be possible.
Working at RGI for three years has taught me so much about my potential. I have grown independent and confident because of the help I have received there. It is too bad that not all jobs support and teach people with disabilities. That support could be as easy as repeating directions or writing a list of steps needed to complete a job. I am thankful that I have had the chance to work at RGI. Because I am successful at work, I feel better about myself. This has improved my self-confidence and my relationships with other people.