My Story: Carolyn Smith

It was the middle of one of the coldest winters ever when I decided to abruptly move myself and two daughters to Boston from Kansas City. Rage, hate, and courage carried me through the move. Everything in life is a choice. This time, I chose me.
Like most women who are involved in domestic violence situations, they are stripped of being independent. It starts out slow and sometimes, you do not even realize the amount of “freedom” that is being taken from you because it is covered up by materialistic items or empty promises of being taken care of. My ex-husband was abusive mentally, physically and emotionally. It also did not help that he was an addict. So naturally, when he found out where my daughters and I ran off to, he began to make threatening phone calls. I could not involve anyone else in my drama so I left my sister’s house in Somerville, Massachusetts and moved to a women’s shelter in Dorchester, a Boston neighborhood.
Living on public assistance in a shelter was trying but pushed me to be more focused than ever to provide for my children. The Department of Transitional Assistance referred me to Goodwill and Boston Career Link, the one-stop career center operated by Goodwill. I met a woman, Jessica Castro, Goodwill’s Director of Workforce Training and Youth Initiative. She introduced me to Goodwill’s First Step job readiness program. The first thing they helped me accomplish was regaining my confidence, figuring out what I am passionate about and landing my first part-time job at a Goodwill location.
Later on, I learned about Goodwill’s Human Services Employment Ladder Program (HELP), which prepares and trains individuals to work in human services. It could not have come at a more perfect time. While re-discovering myself, I learned how enthralled I would become at the thought of aiding any women who has had a similar past and needed a second, third, fourth etc., chance at life. I enrolled in their two-month program while working part-time at Goodwill and living in the shelter. Things began to gel and before the program was over, I had an interview at Victory Programs, which operates Women’s Hope. I graduated in December 2015 and had already secured my position as a Residential Assistant.
In my day-to-day job functions at Women’s Hope, I provide care for women who are recovering from a number of substance abuse addictions, including opioids, methadone, and fentanyl. Many of the women are homeless, unemployed, and have been victims of domestic violence. A large portion of what I give these women is emotional support by constantly providing positive words of affirmations and encouragement. I want to give them hope and let them know that just because they fell down no matter what caused the situation, there is always another chance to choose you.