After I was diagnosed with Spastic Paraparesis and Optic Neuropathy, I had to come to terms with the fact that I could no longer work building cabinets. It was a job that I really enjoyed but I could no longer see how to perform my work. After that, I lost much of my independence and was forced to move in with my father until I was able to move out on my own in 2004.
In 2012, I sought assistance from the South Carolina Commission for the Blind (SCCB). There, I went through JAWS training and then I had the opportunity to teach the same JAWS training to other people who have vision impairment. Working with SCCB and going through those programs really helped me gain a lot of my independence back, despite my vision loss. However, I was still unable to find employment despite all of my training and had to move home for about 13 months.
In May 2014, I reconnected with SCCB and completed a JAWS training refresher. After my training, SCCB contacted the Aiken Goodwill store and set up 12 weeks of on-the-job training for me. During my training period, I worked hard and showed my skills and was hired as a temp through Goodwill Staffing Services at the same store in October 2014. I was then able to be hired permanently by Goodwill on December 2014.
I have been working at the Aiken Goodwill store for just shy of two years in the electronics department. Goodwill has helped me to gain my self-confidence back and prove that I can still do a lot of the things I previously did. Goodwill has given me the dignity of earning a paycheck again. Earning a check, instead of being given a check, is so much more rewarding. I appreciate that the management staff and my co-workers treat me like everyone else and they don’t limit me. They let me do what I can and they expect the same out of me that they expect out of all of the other employees.
Six months ago, I became a single father because my ex decided that she did not want to be with us anymore and turned her back on us. Even though she is gone, I still work hard at my job and take care of my son and my home, the way I always have. I don’t think that I am doing anything out of the ordinary, just taking care of my household and doing what I am supposed to be doing. I have gone through the entire process because I don’t want my son to say that his dad has a disability so he couldn’t work. I want my son to say that his dad has a disability and he still works! I am playing with the cards that I was dealt and I can’t give up!