My Story: Jonathan Toledo

I had a lot of challenges growing up. I didn’t really know my dad and we moved around a lot because we had to. By the time I was a teenager, I was in trouble more than I was out of trouble, and things went from bad to worse.

Goodwill gave me my first chance, but it didn’t stick for me. I wasn’t ready and I got in trouble again and ended up in San Quentin State Prison. It was rough. I knew right away that I didn’t want to spend my life going in and out of prison. Prison changed my mindset. I didn’t want to go back.

What surprised me was that my Goodwill career advisers wrote letters for me when I was in prison. They had faith in me, at first more faith than I had in myself. I started studying for my GED and kept out of trouble. When I was released, I was ready for a second chance, and Goodwill was there for me again.

I can’t say that everything was easy from there, but I’ve stuck with it. My first Goodwill store manager, Ricky Castro, helped me learn how to work as part of a team. I learned everything from him. From there I have just kept working and learning.

I’m different now. I know I need to keep working and need to support my two sons. I want a good career and know that I can do it. I like the feeling of paying my bills. I want to own a home.

One of the best parts of being at Goodwill is helping other people who were stuck like me. I never knew how good that could feel.

I learned the hard way that there’s no future on the streets. I tell people who are in a position like I was to take advantage of any opportunities that come their way. Goodwill was there for me.