My Story: Jim Barnette

Jim Barnette is Goodwill Industries International’s 2012 Achiever of the Year.

When I came to work at Goodwill Industries of the Columbia Willamette, I was about 40 years old. I had done a lot of different jobs at a lot of different places before I got here. I counted screws in Detroit, I assembled little doo-dads, I sorted cans for cash for a company – lots of different things.  I wasn’t making much money; sometimes, I didn’t make any money.

When I was first here, I worked in the production and contracts (PAC) department and did jobs that I earned money for. The jobs were better than the other places because they had more kinds of jobs and used more kinds of products for the jobs. If there was a job I couldn’t do too good, they would change things around so I could use my strong hand or put things where I could see it better. Sometimes I could help my coworkers do their work if they didn’t understand it too well.

After I was at the PAC for a while, I asked if I could work at the store. They said a job was open at the Powell, OR, store, so that’s where I went to work. I had to try out for two weeks to see if I could handle it. I worked hard to get in, but I did it. I got to learn a lot of new jobs, and they always let me try new jobs to see if I was able to. They didn’t tell me ‘no’ just because I never did it before.

I was earning enough money to go shopping for albums. That’s my life – music. I have a huge collection now. All my work money goes in the bank. I use it for albums, DVDs and dates with my girlfriend. Sometimes I have to buy a CD, but I prefer records.

About two years ago, I moved to the Cedar Hills, OR, store because it’s closer to home. The aisles are wide, and there’s a lot more shelves there. I know a lot more jobs since I’ve came to this store. I still get a lot of jobs to choose from, and I’m still making money to put in the bank.

Did I say I met my girlfriend at the Goodwill? And I still collect records, and I still go on dates, and I still earn money, because I got a job I can still do. Why wasn’t I here sooner?

Read more about Jim’s Achiever of the Year award and hear more stories from people like him.