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.

16 comments on “My Story: Christopher Smallwood
  1. I knew his parents around the time they got Chris he is an awesome young man with tons of potential….. Keep going Chris you are an inspiration..

    1. Thank u Deborah Lawhore. I glad that my story inspired u and i will try to keep up the good work.

  2. Congratulations, Christopher. I have a son (also named Christopher!) with a disability and he is having trouble finding a job. I am hoping that Goodwill will be able to train and help him like they did you. God Bless you! Keep uo the good work!~

    1. Thank YOU linda. I really hope your son can get a job at Goodwill because they helped me so much and I know they will help your son too… I’m also glad that my story inspired you and your son.. god bless you and your son with alot of love and happyness..

  3. Christopher and Linda, I am the mom to a 23 yr. old who has learning difficulties. She has tried non stop to find a job but no luck. Your information has raised my spirits and I too am hopeful Goodwill can help me in my efforts!

    1. Thank you patty.. I know that Goowill will help your daughter because they helped me a whole lot to get where i’m at now….

  4. Christopher, your story is so inspiring to young adults who have disabilities and their parents! My 19 year old daughter with Aspergers applied at Goodwill Industries because my husband heard a story like yours about Goodwill on the radio. Your determination to rise to your potential as a mature employee and Goodwill’s working through your challenges and nurturing your gifts makes you a hero in all our hearts. Thank you for sharing your story.

    1. Thank you Deb.. I’m glad that my story insired you and your family.. I know that Goodwill will help her out with her extra needs.. God bless you and ur family with alot of love and happyness

  5. Congratulations Chris. I have printed your story to give to my 18 year old grandson who is bipolar, depressive and has an anxiety disorder. I have talked to him about our program, but he is resistant. I am hoping your story will change his mind. Thank you for sharing it.

    1. Your welcome Lucinda Casey.. I really hope your grandson will change his mind about working for Goodwill because they are very good employee and they help alot of people with extra needs.. I’m very glad that my story inspired you… God bless you and your family with alot of love and happyness

  6. Chris,
    Having known you now for almost three years, it is hard to remember a time when you were not the respectful, confident and capable young man that I see most every day at work. You and many others like you who have gone before and helped themselves through the power of work, with a tiny assist from Goodwill Industries, is the reason that I continue doing the necessary for Goodwill Industries after 37 years. Donnie Tolson, Rappahannock Goodwill Industries, CFO/CAO

  7. I truly can appreciate your article and all the comments above. It is inspiring to see a Business stand behind their name. You know how the world seems to just not care unless there is something in it for the Boss. To be honest, it seems that integrity has gone right out the door in this world but I can thank you for these words of encouragement. It makes me not hopeless to think that no one cares for each other any more.God bless you in all of your endeavors. May you prosper and succeed and all that you put your mind to do.

  8. Christopher, I saw your potential when you came to work with me at Target/warehouse. I’m glad that you have come this far and knew you could do it all along. It’s been great being a part of your growing process and I am very proud of you for all you have accomplished. Keep looking forward and you will go far.

  9. Chris, My son is 20 with a learning disability and low self-esteem he also becomes angry and frustrated easily. Its so difficult and hurts to watch him suffer in these ways feeling so helpless not knowing where to start to make life better for him. There still is only so much even a Mom can do alone. Thank you so much for sharing your story! It certainly inspired me and has given me much hope that my son will get the connections/training/acceptance he longs for in life to help him become all I know he can be. He starts his journey tomorrow with Goodwill youth program!

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