My Story: Eddie Leonard

I was a good kid raised to do the right thing. I received my Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Arkansas at Monticello, with an extra 18 credit hours in secondary education. I then attended East Central University in Oklahoma to pursue my master’s in sports medicine. I mainly worked with kids all my life. That was my heart, working with kids.

Things went downhill when I started experimenting with drugs and alcohol. I always wanted to be the best at everything: school, sports, and that carried into drugs and alcohol. I wanted to be the best drunk. I had some bad turns and made some bad decisions.

After dealing with the consequences of alcohol and drugs, I wanted to take charge of my life and to find a good job. However, with my past criminal record and several physical limitations from previous sports injuries, I ran into several obstacles on my way to employment.

A friend from Arkansas Family Services Agency recommended and referred me for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) because of my physical challenges. I was sent to a doctor, who gave me medication for my depression, and pain from past injuries.

Things started to turn around for me. I was referred to Goodwill Industries of Arkansas for training in 2008 by Arkansas Rehabilitation Services. I fell in love with Goodwill, and with the people I worked with. I love the people here, from top to bottom. I love being around people with disabilities, and this is a place where they help people. I’ve seen them help so many people so many times.

When it was time for me to start looking for a job, I hit a lot of brick walls because of my disability and past criminal history. I was seeing myself getting depressed again. Being around the positive people here at Goodwill, it kept my morale up. 

I talked to Brian the CEO, I told him, “I can’t find a job, but I want to work for Goodwill. I love Goodwill.” Brian said, “Eddie, I’m gonna help you out.” They came and told me that I would receive a job here cleaning up and doing floors at all of the stores across the state. This was God doing for me what I couldn’t do for myself.

I’ve worked as the floor care manager for Goodwill since 2009, traveling the state keeping up the floors at all our locations. I’ve also been able give to Goodwill by mentoring in the GoodGuides program.

I’ve lived two lives in one lifetime, I have been blessed.