High school sweethearts Rachael and Sean came together at Goodwill Industries of Monocacy Valley as transitioning youth looking to build a career foundation for their future and reach their dream of living independently. While at Goodwill, the two gained valuable skills, both professionally and personally as they matured into early adulthood. That knowledge supported them along their journey and helped each gain employment. With steady well-paying jobs, the two were well on their way to achieving the goal they had set for themselves.
“When Rachael first entered Goodwill’s program she was an incredibly shy young woman and her self-confidence lacked because of it. Our staff worked closely with her to improve her social skills and increase her confidence by setting up volunteer opportunities for her to meet new people and enrolled her into a curriculum that helped her with her soft skills,” said Director of Workforce Development Cindy Freeman.
As Rachael overcame those obstacles, she worked for a Goodwill retail store in the production area for a few years to gain work experience. With her experience, she was able to continue to build her resume by finding a part-time job at Marshall’s.
Sean came into the program already employed at a local grocery store near his parent’s house. When he moved to Frederick, MD, Goodwill told him about an open position in the janitorial division at Fort Detrick which Sean applied for and received. With his strong work ethic, he quickly increased his job duties and responsibilities, and gained additional work tasks which lead to his promotion to a higher paying position in the floor maintenance division.
“Rachael witnessed how happy Sean was working at Fort Detrick and decided that she too wanted to work in the janitorial division on the base,” stated Freeman.
After expressing her employment goal to Goodwill staff, she waited for a position to open; when it did, Rachel had no problem during the interview. With steady well-paying jobs, the two are well on their way to achieving their goal of independence.
With the help of Goodwill’s certified benefits counselor, the couple took advantage of a new program that helps educate people with disabilities on how their benefits and social security may change when they obtain community employment. The program not only allows for a deeper understanding on how their benefits work but addresses fears associated with the change and links individuals to additional programs and services that are available.
“We noticed a real need for a program like this, and recently had one of our staff members certified in the program to ensure we have the resources available to offer the help that was needed for our graduates during the transition into employment,” said Freeman. “By partnering with two local agencies to link our clients to different services and counseling opportunities available, the people we serve are able to achieve a greater quality of life”.
Through the partnership, the three nonprofits worked together to help Rachael and Sean qualify for a special loan for people with disabilities and worked with a local realtor to help make their dreams come true. Goodwill staff began the loan process, the service coordinator helped them complete the financial component of the application and the Community Action Agency offered the financial planning classes required by the housing loan program.
“We are proud to share that Rachael and Sean will be going to settlement before the holidays to purchase their new home. They both have come a long way to reach independence and their story offers hope and encouragement for others with the same dream, they are truly role models for people looking to live independently,” stated Freeman.