My Story: Rafael Munoz

As a young child, I remember sitting in the passenger seat as we drove along the Brooklyn side of the water and seeing the Twin Towers being built. Little did I know that I would be an eyewitness to the events of September 11, and see them fall.

On September 11, I was at the bank getting change for the business where I was the assistant manager. A TV was on and showing the news about the first tower. When I returned back to work I went to the roof to see for myself. I saw the second plane hit the tower – there was an orange blast. I saw the first tower go down, and then I got down from the roof.

By December, I was a resident of Ohio and hospitalized for three days with tracheal bronchitis. This was the first of many health problems that resulted from being present at 9/11. I was constantly getting sick, I had pneumonia twice that year.

I found then that I didn’t want to be around any crowds, stopped attending church, wore dark sunglasses everywhere I went and was afraid to go outside the house. I was living like this for three years and was finally diagnosed with PTSD, agoraphobia and depression.

But knowing the diagnosis did not make life any better. During those three years I went from being a law-abiding citizen to being a felon. I lost my family, my friends and was incarcerated for two years.

Upon my release, and return to Lorain County I found myself homeless. Businesses would not hire an ex-felon. Due to my diagnosis I was able to become a member of Gathering Hope House – a daytime facility for persons with mental health issues.

They blessed me with a $500 stipend that I managed to get a room with, but I knew I would need a job to keep the room. I was told that Goodwill Industries of Lorain County was a place to get help finding a job. I was afraid they would say no like everyone else had because of my background.

I went to the Goodwill Job Club and started working with a job developer there. He let me know when a job was available with Goodwill and suggested I apply for it. They told me the job was only two days a week, but I told them I would work hard at anything available.

I started October 14, 2010 and since then became full-time. While working here I’ve learned to help others instead of focusing on myself and my worries. I’m not burdened by the things that used to bother me and I have been able to move forward with my life.

Hear more stories from people like Rafael »

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4 comments on “My Story: Rafael Munoz
    1. I do HR for Goodwill and this is precisely why I LOVE it! I wish all business could affect change like we do!

  1. I am so glad I stopped by to read your story and receive such inspiration. It can be very disheartening to go on interview after interview, to receive such high remarks and to even receive job offers. Only to have your background reduce you to nobody….nothing in their eyes. It can make one very cynical because it is often the people or organizations that are suppose to be the ones will help you. But we have to keep pushing. Your story os proof it works when you work it. Thank you for my push….

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