My Story—Paul Rosenstock

My journey got really great June 1, 2007. Before that, I was homeless for seven years. I was fighting an addiction to opiates and was racking up all kinds of court charges. At the time, I was unfortunately pleading guilty to a whole lot of things I didn’t do. But on June 21, 2007, was when I decided to turn my life around. I went into rehab, and then after spending 28 days in the rehab for drug abuse, I lived in a homeless shelter. While I was there, I was doing intensive outpatient therapy.

Great things happened once I started to get clean. I started working with different agencies in the community, and I was able to get five scholarships for college. I attended college for the first year and got my certification in addiction counseling and worked for a halfway house in Frederick.

I knew that Goodwill was looking for people. I was kind of concerned going there because during my first year of college, I had to have brain surgery. After that, I suffered from short-term memory loss, and also I had a criminal record.

When I went to Goodwill, they welcomed me and were very friendly. I told them upfront about my situation, and it really didn’t matter to them. I’m not saying they aren’t picky – they want qualified people- but they didn’t use my barriers against me.

DSC_0054The good thing is, my supervisor and the staff, they know I have short-term memory loss, so they are actually able to make me proficient, and they make adjustments for that. What they do, they’ll send me the same email several times and come by and ask if I got the email. When they explain things, they do it in a little simpler fashion, and they make sure that the task that’s assigned to me, that I understand it thoroughly. And they do it with dignity.

Not only that, but they are helping me finish the rest of my college. I represent a program called Life Skills. I work with prisoners who are getting ready to transition out, back into the community. We teach them soft skills and hard skills. I think I have a leg up on that because I was incarcerated at one time and I also suffered from the same diseases that they’ve been diagnosed with, too.

My favorite part of the job is when the person who’s released comes to see me and gets into our program, and the fire in that belly that they have hopefully gets developed. From there on out, it will be just like my story. It goes from 0 to 60 in two seconds. Not only does it affect the client, but the families are so grateful. Just to see them. They’re so appreciative that something has reached them. Everybody’s valuable. Everybody’s valuable. Don’t allow yourself to be measured by someone else’s yardstick. Sometimes, don’t believe everything you hear. I don’t think I’ve met a bad person yet. I’ve maybe met a few people who need some guidance, but everybody is important.

The message I would have for employers is to be open minded. I do understand that there’s a huge stigma attached to people who have been incarcerated. That stigma, a lot of times, is generated by what people know, which is unfortunately what they see on television and what they read in the newspaper. That only portrays a very small part of what people who have been incarcerated are. I’ve run into some phenomenal people who have everything from a GED to a master’s degree that have all been incarcerated.

If I had to sum it up in one sentence, please be open minded.

11 comments on “My Story—Paul Rosenstock
  1. Thank you so much, Paul, for sharing your awesome story of recovery and hope! Prayers for you as you continue on your journey. Thanks for all that you do!
    Mary Newlon, Work Adjustment Counselor, Goodwill Industries of KYOWVA Area, Huntington WV and a grateful believer in Christ in Celebrate Recovery

  2. Paul was my Primary Therapist while I was beginning my recovery from Drug & Alcohol addiction in the halfway house in Frederick, MD. I am now a leader in my college, where I am a full time student, carrying a 4.0 G.P.A., and have maintained a position on the Dean’s list for the entirety of my collegiate career. I am an honors student and have had the honor now to present my own research on prescription medication abuse in a different state. I also now work full time for a drug and alcohol rehabilitation center, in addition to my coursework. Paul played a monumental part in saving my life..ever reminding me that I am, “exactly where I should be, right now”. I think of that statement often, and will not forget it. Thank you Paul.

  3. What a great story – and what a struggle to overcome so many issues! This made my day! And I am sure he is making wonderful days for others. This world is a better place because of people like him and people from Goodwill, who gave him the self confidence and understanding that it takes to make it!!

  4. Paul, I don’t know if you remember me, but you were my counselor in 2011. I had just gotten out of jail and was in your halfway house. I remember you as a kind, compassionate, and fair man who believed in me more than I believed in myself. You showed me things that no one ever took the time to do, and did not judge me by my appearance and criminal record. I will be celebrating 3 years drug free on October 6th, and you played a big part in my recovery. Thank you Paul!!!

  5. I am a former employee of Horizon Goodwill Industries of Hagerstown MD, I moved out of the area and now work for Goodwill Industries of Kanawha Valley Charleston, WV
    I have had the opportunity to be around Paul during the time I worked for Horizon Goodwill Industries, when he was conducting an employee assessment training class. He shared his story with our class the day I attended, and my thought was WOW! what an amazing man and what an amazing company I am working for. I am so proud of you Paul for having the confidence to put your story out there. Already knowing your story will make a difference in someone else’s life. God Bless!

  6. Paul, what an amazing story you have shared. My daughter will soon be released from jail in Washington state. I know she plans to contact Goodwill for job assistance. I hope she meets someone as dynamic, caring and supportive as you are to help her through her next life challenges. Hearing your story makes me hopeful for her. Thank you.

  7. While I was locked up at the Maryland Correctional Training Center, Paul actually came out to the prison and worked with me and several other inmates every Thursday through Goodwill’s Employment Connections program. Not only did he provide us with valuable information on how to successfully transition back into society, he brought hope. He always told us that our past does not have to define us, and we all have a fantastic comeback story waiting to be seen. Thanks to Paul and the Goodwill, I am now working full time, have my own apartment, and am back in school working on my degree.

  8. Thank you Mr. Paul for letting me into your program at the Goodwill. When I got out of jail no one would hire me. Your program helped me find a good job close to my home, and me and my family love you and Goodwill too!

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