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!
Melissa is a participant of Goodwill Industries of Houston’s Female Homeless Veterans Reintegration Program I was a victim of an aggravated sexual assault in the first degree with a deadly weapon. I had a gun put to my head, tied up after being sexually assaulted and told I was never going home. I decided to move from Henderson, TX, down to Houston. My family and I didn’t have anywhere to go, and stayed in a car that belonged to my mom. I didn’t want to put my daughter in that situation.
My duties at Goodwill are working and hanging and grade, sorting clothing and sometimes doing wares. I have worked at Goodwill BridgePointe for 21 years altogether. I ride the bus back and forth to work every day. I like working at Goodwill with the other workers — I have always liked everyone I have worked with. I feel good that I have been able to keep a job this long. I feel more independent having my job at Goodwill in BridgePointe. I don’t like to rely on other people, and I’m proud to be on my own.
Before I came to Goodwill Easter Seals, my life was a disaster. I had no job, no income, no substance in my life and no foundation. What brought me to Goodwill was my child support counselor. She directed me to a number of programs that involved fathers because I needed to establish some income, and I needed my driver’s license. One of the numbers they gave me was Goodwill’s FATHER Project. The FATHER Project was a place where I got a place to know myself, to get to explore myself and understand my rights as far as being a father.
Before coming to Goodwill®, I was out of work living in Hahira, GA, and struggling just to get gas money to come to Valdosta to look for a job. My primary work experience included auto sales and finance collections — I had 17 years in auto sales and 13 years in finance. To my disappointment, I was unable to find a job in those fields. I began looking at other careers, but my age of 65 seemed to hold me back, as many employers wanted to hire at younger ages. Besides being 65, I’m also a disabled veteran, so there were some physical requirements I was not able to meet for a lot of job openings.
I had major back surgery, where I had a disc taken out of my back. They took two bone grafts out of my hip. I was on full disability for about eight years. The doctors had said I would never work again, and I gave up on things, started doing drugs and ended up going to prison. In prison, I worked out every day. I started benching 350. When I got out of prison, I wanted to go back to work and get off disability. I went to rehab, and they sent me to MERS Goodwill to help me find a job that would be suitable. I could have gone back to construction, but how long was it going to take before I injured myself again? All I knew was construction — that was all I did most of my life.
I was born in Omaha, NE. I really don’t remember too much about my childhood life, but starting around ages 12-17, I found myself out of control. I went through the juvenile justice system, including youth centers and group homes, to help me learn to respect authority. I fell into gangs and violence. I didn’t really like school much, so I had problems there too. As I began to get older, I began to start settling down and trying to figure out what I was going to do with myself. I tried to slow down, go to school and get good grades, and I needed some assistance to motivate me more and keep positive.