For 23 years, Karen Owens spent her life caring for others as an RN. She was proud to help those who were critically ill and support their families through difficult times. After being diagnosed with a psychological disability, Karen found the demands and stress of her job too difficult to continue. She decided to find an alternate path to make a fresh start for herself by going back to school for ultrasonography, and began taking computer courses at Goodwill Industries of Knoxville to help prepare for her return to college.
As a high school student, Sam participated in a work experience program with Goodwill that taught him valuable job skills. He continued to work with Goodwill after graduation, and his great work ethic earned him the position of team leader. An employee specialist at his local agency saw how hardworking Sam was and helped him advance in his career by connecting him with a position as a mail clerk at Medco. Sam says he now enjoys being able to provide for himself and his mother, and is proud of his newfound independence. Read on to hear Sam tell his story.
An automobile accident changed Misty's life when she was 18. She was left in a coma, lost her skin from head to toe and could no longer see out of her right eye. After extensive rehabilitation - physical, occupational and speech - Misty completed school and received her diploma. Now, Misty has new challenges and opportunities ahead: "Through Goodwill, the things I have learned and am still learning helped me overcome all of my challenges."
Before learning about supports in her community, Nicole and her daughter were living in a foreclosed home with no running water or gas for over six months. She drove an unreliable vehicle with no working brake lights, a trunk that wouldn't latch and which wouldn't go more than 35 mph. After eventually finding employment with the YMCA, Nicole was referred to Goodwill's Workers on Wheels program. She received a donated car and now feels grateful that she has a safe and dependable means of transportation to go to work and to take her daughter to school. Thanks to support from Goodwill and the YMCA, Nicole is currently pursuing a college degree and has also been able to find a stable home for her and her daughter.
Before coming to Goodwill, Darrell was in a drug court program where he had to attend mandatory drug screens and sure that he was on time for all of his appointments. Ninety days into the program, a counselor told him about Goodwill and the services that could help him get back on his feet. He joined the Goodwill's Access to Recovery program, which provided him with free counseling services and other work supports like bus tokens. Thanks to his own resolve and the support of Goodwill, Darrell has been sober for more than three years, and holds a paying job that allows him to provide for his family.
Last year, Edward Robinson didn't have a job and found himself living on the streets. He was recovering from an addiction to drugs and alcohol; even though he had gotten clean and sober, he felt like he had nowhere to go. After being referred to Goodwill through rehabilitation services, Edward gained not only a job, but the opportunity to get his life back on track. Staff at Goodwill worked with Edward to help him achieve what he wanted in life and kept him working. He says his biggest accomplishment is finding an apartment to live in, and he looks forward to helping other people who are currently struggling to succeed.
Josh, who has cerebral palsy, came to Goodwill from a difficult background. While in school, he faced challenges reading and writing, and had turned to selling drugs for a living. Determined to build his job skills, Josh joined a Goodwill youth program in West Palm Beach, FL. There, staff connected him with software he used to learn to read and with assistive devices that helped him learn to drive. "Goodwill gave me independence and a different way of thinking," he says. "But most importantly, Goodwill has given me the ability to believe in myself."
Jason Tobey, a Marine Corps veteran who completed several tours during the Gulf War, expected to easily transition into the civilian workforce after being honorably discharged from the military. He was surprised to find, however, that not all employers looked at servicemen and women from these conflicts as favorable job candidates. After returning to school, Jason became involved with Goodwill of Orange County’s microenterprise development program, which gave him the skills he needed to start his own business, Semper Fi Security. He’s now helping others with a military service record succeed, employing eight veterans with plans to hire more as business grows.
Eric was making a good salary doing sales for Xerox when he lost his job in a round of layoffs prompted by the down economy. Without a steady source of income, he couldn't pay for his house and rental property. A friend who worked for the Goodwill in Columbus, GA, told him about the programs and services the agency offered and encouraged him to come in. After registering at the career center and applying for some jobs, Eric was hired as a restaurant services manager. He now uses Goodwill as a source for new employees and to help his current staff members do taxes and learn English.
Before coming to Goodwill, Tonya was unemployed, homeless and had a young son who lived with his father. She was looking for an organization that could help her become a positive member of society. After linking up with Goodwill's work experience program, Tonya quickly rose in the Goodwill ranks and now works as a field supervisor for an in-home care program offering non-medical care to adults. Thanks to steady employment, she was able to purchase two vehicles and is now in the process of buying a home.
Before I came to Goodwill, I spent some time in the military and, after ETS, fell into an addiction to alcohol. I got with Goodwill Industries of Lower South Carolina and my life changed for the positive after taking a maintenance training program. I take care of the corporate building in Charleston and my future seems to be getting brighter and brighter. Once, it was all about me, but now I try to give back what I received. It makes me feel good.
I have been with Arizona Goodwill for about five years. I have been in six different foster care homes. I was moved from my real parents when I was about nine years old because my parents weren’t real nice to me because I had a disability. I had ADHD, and it was hard for them to take care of me because I was hyper and not controlled at that time. When I was older and in high school, I had better people and better teachers. I did a project program when I first started at Goodwill Industries of Northern Arizona called GoodWorks. It involved three weeks of training at the baler station, greeter station and hanging station, and custodian training – I hated cleaning bathrooms!