Growing up as a kid, I had a different life than other kids my age. When I was just three years old, my father left. My grandmother became my guardian when I was seven years old. In my late teens, I began using and selling drugs, and I had several run-ins with the law in my 20s. After I was caught in a raid at a drug house in my 30s, I was convicted of drug trafficking charges, and was sentenced to 36 months of federal prison.
After serving my time, I was given 30 days to find a job or return to prison. However, my felony charges made it extremely difficult to find employment and provide for my family. While at a halfway house, I saw a Goodwill® van pick up other residents. I was determined to turn my life around so I visited Goodwill Industries of Arkansas and applied to participate in the Transitional Employment Opportunity (TEO) program. I soon began the 16-week, paid job-training program, earning a career readiness certificate and enhancing my leadership skills.
My hard work didn’t go unnoticed. After completing the program, I was offered and accepted a position at Goodwill. After obtaining a certification as a forklift driver, I worked relentlessly and was quickly promoted. My strong work ethic in the production area led to increased efficiency, accountability and profitability, and I received two additional promotions. Today, as a production supervisor, I am coaching new TEO participants who are working in the production area as part of their job readiness program. I also act as a mentor for others going through the program and have mentored hundreds of participants during my tenure.
I still remember the day that I received my first promotion. I went home feeling so emotionally blessed and told my aunt Betty how grateful I felt because they trusted me to run the operations. I came from a past that I am ashamed of. God has really blessed me and put people in my life, so I will try to make something good with my life. Not only did Goodwill help me change my life, they changed my children’s lives because they got their father back; and I’m working and doing something positive.