My Story: Aaron Hughes

I had major back surgery, where I had a disc taken out of my back. They took two bone grafts out of my hip. I was on full disability for about eight years. The doctors had said I would never work again, and I gave up on things, started doing drugs and ended up going to prison.

In prison, I worked out every day. I started benching 350. When I got out of prison, I wanted to go back to work and get off disability. I went to rehab, and they sent me to MERS Goodwill to help me find a job that would be suitable. I could have gone back to construction, but how long was it going to take before I injured myself again? All I knew was construction — that was all I did most of my life.

I went through MERS Goodwill and they actually taught me how to write a résumé. They helped me get my teeth fixed, because when I was injured I broke most of my teeth, and drug addiction didn’t do me any good either. I didn’t have a good smile, so you would have never seen me smile. Today I can smile, and that’s a good thing.

I was debating about going back to school or going to work, and we decided that going back to work would probably be the best thing. I got a job at the Kitchen Incorporated, which is a homeless shelter. For the past year, I’ve been the night manager at the homeless shelter taking care of families and showing people that you can actually change your life if you want to.

I don’t have any problem telling anyone where I’ve been, because I’ve been through a lot in my life. From drug addiction to being in prison to being on the wrong side of the law and not caring about what happened to me to today, I am a stronger individual, have positive energy, and want to be able to give people hope. I want to show that if I can do it, they can too.

Through MERS Goodwill, I’ve been able to turn my life around and start over in a new way of life. Now, I’m ready to go back to school and be a social worker, and be someone different.

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