My Story: Tanyel Johnson

I have been married to my husband for 14 years, and we have three children: two girls and a boy. My son has a disability, and it’s been difficult for him and our family. I had always worked full time in order to help provide for my kids and to contribute financially to our household.

A few years ago, my son started having problems at school, and I was having to leave work on a regular basis. My husband and I decided it would be best if I quit my job and stayed home full time with my son. So, for a year and a half I did just that. It wasn’t easy. I became depressed. Even though I was helping my son, I felt worthless. We struggled financially living off of my husband’s income. He did seasonal work in the construction field, so work wasn’t always guaranteed for him.

I was at home watching the news one evening when a story about Goodwill Industries Serving Eastern Nebraska and Southwest Iowa’s Customer Connect program aired. It was a six-month program that taught individuals customer service training. It sparked my interest. I thought to myself, “This may be just what I need.”

I called the number several days later. Unfortunately, the program was full by the time I called. Why didn’t I call sooner? Even though I was disappointed, I was motivated to do something with myself. So I enrolled in a local college to start taking some classes. Several months had passed and I was about ready to begin my classes when I received a call from Goodwill’s Customer Connect. She called to inform me that they had a spot for me in their next cohort. I was so excited I didn’t hesitate and immediately went down to their main office to fill out paper work.

I completed the program six months later. It wasn’t easy. My son’s disability and the issues that come with it were still there. I had to leave class early a few times to be with my son, but Goodwill understood and allowed me to do so. With the help of Goodwill, I was able to secure an internship with Charles Drew Health Center. That lasted 12 weeks and eventually turned into full-time employment.

Today I am a WIC Clerk in the WIC Center at Charles Drew. I enroll individuals into the program. I really love my job. I enjoy my coworkers and am so blessed to be working. I am so happy I am able to contribute to my family’s needs financially. The lights stay on. We are able to do things like go to the movies. My son is doing better. My oldest daughter is in college. Life is good for us.