My Story: Amy Ofenbeck

Eighteen years ago my life changed forever as I know it. I was working as a TV news anchor and reporter and was at the gym working out when I collapsed unconscious. I was rushed to the hospital where it was determined I had bleeding in my brain due to a ruptured aneurysm. I had no idea I even had an aneurysm so this was a shock.

Since then I’ve had a total of eight brain and spinal surgeries as a result. I also had to have a vocal cord implant because the bleed paralyzed a vocal cord leaving me without a voice. Since I was on TV that was the hardest thing to deal with.

I kept going back to work after each brain surgery thinking I could still do the job well. However, all the brain surgeries have left me with severe short term memory problems. I also don’t handle stress as well as I used to and being a reporter meant there was a lot of stress. I ended up having to go on disability. At the time I was heartbroken, but now I see it as a blessing.

I was referred to Goodwill through the department of vocational rehab. At the time I only knew of Goodwill® as the used clothing store. I had no idea about all the services they provide. I met with a job counselor and explained I thought the natural transition from TV news was to a public relations job. At the time the PR department here had no openings so it was suggested that I volunteer. I reluctantly agreed, and it was the best decision I ever made.

After a few months of volunteering I was told that they liked what I was doing so a position was created for me. I was thrilled and felt confident that I could still be a productive member of society. I was named Goodwill Industries of Southwest Florida’s Achiever of the Year, which was so surprising, but it made me very proud.

Working at Goodwill has provided me with a purpose again. I’ve also been inspired by my co-workers seeing their challenges and how they deal with them. I’m very happy and proud of the fact that despite all my physical disabilities and memory problems I am able to hold a good job.