My Story: Haley Paone

I’ve had a very rough past. When I was young, my three-year old brother died of unknown causes.  I’ve had a lot of problems dealing with the loss over the years. To make things worse, I have bipolar disorder, which I could never control.

I attended public school for a while, then I became home-schooled at the age of 15. I went to a boarding school in North Carolina for five months then came back to home schooling later that year. I was hospitalized at Rush Children’s Hospital’s psychiatric unit in Chicago. I could no longer deal with the loss of my brother or my bipolar disorder.

When I got released from the hospital I started a new home school program and graduated high school at the age of 16 with a 3.7 GPA. It felt great to graduate, and I felt a lot of pride in myself. After finishing high school, I went to South Valley Community College and graduated from the CNA program. Things were going well for a while, but then at the age of 17, I was sent to another hospital, the Streamwood Behavioral Health Center  in Chicago.

After returning from there, I started dealing with a lot of issues from my disorder and I couldn’t concentrate on any one thing. At this time, I had a job as a CNA and lost it due to poor attendance. I started seeing a Department of Rehabilitation Services (DRS) counselor and worked with her on getting my life turned around.

After working with DRS, I applied to Goodwill Industries of Northern Illinois’ “Let’s Go To Work” program, a supportive work program that helps individuals with barriers gain valuable work experience and training. I worked in the back sorting and hanging clothes. I was very excited about this opportunity because I knew I would need to work in order to get better.

I was hired in June 2013, and worked with my job coach on my work skills. After a few months of working in the “Let’s Go To Work” program, there was a job opening for a cashier’s position at Goodwill. My job coach and I worked on the application together, and I was called for an interview.

A few days later I was offered the job, and found out I would be getting more hours. I was very excited for this opportunity, and I know without the help and support of my job coach in Goodwill I would have never been able to move into a competitive job. I love working for Goodwill and I would like to thank them for giving me a second chance.