A stay-at-home mom, Dorothy had been out of the workforce for over 30 years. “I wanted to stay home and take care of my two children,” she said. “Then, when my children were teenagers, my sister passed away, and her three year old son came to live with me.”
Dorothy chose to stay at home and raise her nephew, just as she had her own children. When her nephew turned 16, she decided it was time to return to the workforce. Despite a lack of work experience, the 55-year-old had no problem finding employment. Goodwill was the first place she applied and, just days later, she was offered a job.
That was eight years ago. Today, Dorothy spends her days processing hard goods at the Goodwill store in Shelbyville. “I’m responsible for keeping the store shelves in the hard goods section stocked and organized,” she said. “I really enjoy my job.”
For some, the transition back into the workforce can be difficult, but that wasn’t the case for Dorothy. “It was actually pretty smooth,” she said. “My managers and co-workers made it easy for me.”
Now, eight years later, Dorothy is still happy to be a part of the Goodwill family. “Working for Goodwill has changed my life,” she said. “I am independent now, and that makes me feel real good.”
A woman barely escapes the harsh reality of living on the streets, a young man’s dream of playing soccer ends abruptly, and a mother’s son feels the desperation of a life unfulfilled. These are the stories of actual Goodwill clients, featured in Goodwill Industries of Middle Tennessee’s new television ads.
As each ad opens, their heart-breaking experiences are captured with emotional intensity and draw us into the moments when their outlooks on life change from hopelessness to happiness. At the heart of their transformations are Goodwill’s Career Solutions centers.
Offering one-on-one job readiness, job training services and job counseling for individuals with disabilities and others who have trouble finding and keeping jobs, Goodwill’s Career Solutions Centers open up doors of opportunity and provide the chance for lives to be changed.
Sometimes life throws us curve balls and takes us down unexpected roads that appear to lead to dead ends, but converting dead ends into new beginnings is the essence of Goodwill.
New beginnings start with you. I hope these new ads inspire you to generously support Goodwill by donating items in your home you no longer need or use and by shopping in one of our 35 stores.
Jose had big plans. He wanted to be a doctor, and he was hoping to get a soccer scholarship to Vanderbilt University. But on June 4, 2007, his life was forever changed. Jose was jogging in Mount Pleasant when a driver of an SUV pulled over and demanded money. “When I told him I didn’t have any, he pulled out a gun and started shooting,” he said.
The gunman fired three times and missed. Then the gun jammed, and Jose took off running. The fourth shot hit his spinal cord and left him paralyzed from the waist down. “I was two weeks away from graduating with my medical assistant degree,” he said. “I had something good going, but unfortunately that didn’t happen, and it was a huge change for me.”
Jose wasn’t ready to give up, but he wasn’t prepared for the obstacles he would face while looking for a job. “During job interviews, they would ask me if I could stand or lift 50 pounds,” he said. “I threw in the towel at that point. I was very depressed.”
In 2011, Jose’s mom and sister drove him to the Goodwill Career Solutions center in Spring Hill. “My sister said, ‘They help people like you.’ That visit changed my life.”
Jose was offered a full-time job at the Spring Hill Career Solutions center. As the administrative assistant, he gets to help people who are struggling to find a job, just like he was three years ago. “When I was in their shoes, Goodwill gave me strength to continue with life,” he said. “It’s nice to be able to pay it forward.”
For nearly two decades, Shelley lived a secret life. “I was a meth addict for 19 years, and then the inevitable happened,” she said.
In 2010, police arrested Shelley for the first time. The judge sentenced her to two years of supervised probation and ordered her to get a job. “During my drug addiction, I was unemployable, so I hadn’t worked in over two years.”
Shelley spent the next several months focused on conquering her addiction. She underwent seven months of treatment and attended two AA meetings every day. “Getting sober was about the hardest thing I had ever done in my life,” she said. “I don’t think I could go through that again, and that’s what keeps me sober.”
Shortly after treatment, Shelley accepted a job at Goodwill. The first few months were challenging. “My self-confidence was just devastated, but the store staff knew what I was going through and would push me that extra bit,” she said. “I never had to hide my past, and to have that support at a place of employment is invaluable.”
In two and a half years, Shelley has received several promotions. She is currently the lead processor at the Union City Goodwill store, and she very happy. “Oh, I absolutely love my job, and I love Goodwill,” she said with a smile. “It’s a place for second chances, and when I see someone like me given a second chance, it makes me love Goodwill even more.”
When asked about the future, Shelley said she hopes to continue her journey through life right here at Goodwill. “Working for Goodwill has changed my life. There’s no place I’d rather be.”
With the house about to fill up with gifts and decorations, there is no better time to clear out unused or unwanted items while making the holidays brighter for everyone by donating to Goodwill. While you’re cleaning out your closet, make room on your tax return for a bigger deduction, because every Goodwill donation made before December 31 is tax-deductible.
During the final six days of 2012, donation attendants assisted 38,073 donors. That’s double the number of donors who ordinarily visit a Goodwill donation site during the course of a week.
Here are a few things to keep in mind when donating to Goodwill:
If helps if you remove all hangers from clothing.
Have an inventory of your items ready before your trip to Goodwill.
If you wish to claim a tax deduction should request a receipt from the attendant when you drop off your donations. The IRS allows a deduction for each item, but it is up to the donor to estimate each item’s value.
If you have a single donation worth more than $500, you will need to complete IRS Form 8283.
If you have a single donation worth more than $5,000, you will need a qualified written appraisal.
As always, thank you for thinking of Goodwill and supporting our mission to serve those who have disabilities or other barriers to employment. Because of your generosity, Goodwill’s Career Solutions is on target to serve more than 18,000 clients in 2013.
Shenita is always in a good mood. “I like to make people laugh,” she says.
Shenita worked at Goodwill years ago when she was in school. Then she worked on many different projects through another local organization that helps adults who have disabilities find work. In 2010, Shenita returned to Goodwill as a hanger associate, and she couldn’t be happier.
Like many others, Shenita spends her days hanging clothes that will be sent to the stores, but her supervisor, Kirk, says her willingness to help others sets her apart from everyone else. “If there is a co-worker who needs assistance, Shenita always wants to help them,” he says.
Shenita has even helped some of her co-workers learn new tasks. “We had an employee that couldn’t clock in, so I had Shenita show him how to do it,” says Kirk. “After about a week, he was clocking in on his own, and that’s because Shenita had helped him.”
It has been two and a half years since Shenita came to Goodwill, and she still looks forward to coming in to work every day. ”It’s a good job, and I love the people I work with,” she says.
With the holidays coming up, Shenita has some big plans: “I want to make some big money and buy Christmas gifts.”
October is National Disability Employment Awareness Month!
Goodwill celebrates this time by honoring the people we employ who have a disability and those we serve who are engaged in the process of finding a job. Since January 2013, we’ve served 173 people with disabilities, and we’ve employed 119 people who happen to have a physical, mental or emotional disability. We do this through Goodwill’s Transitional Employment Services program.
The Transitional Employment Services program connects candidates who have a disability to jobs at Goodwill and with other employers that can accommodate limitations. Sometimes a candidate needs to sit rather than stand, be in a workstation that accommodates a wheelchair or schedule work time around doctors’ appointments. Or a candidate may need a job with only one or two tasks that they can do successfully. When we make these accommodations, we feel we honor each candidate’s true abilities and desire to work.
A disability does not define a person. One’s own abilities, drive and passion define the person. We help people identify their abilities, their passions and their interests to succeed at their highest level.
A car accident left Ian with permanent brain damage—damage that made it difficult for him to find work.
“No one would take a chance on me,” he said.
That is, until Goodwill hired Ian as a greeter at the store in Lexington, Tenn.
Since then, Ian has proven he can do just about anything. In addition to his greeter responsibilities, Ian plays a vital role in the weekly color rotation of merchandise. He is also responsible for keeping the book section organized.
“Working gives me a feeling of accomplishment and integrity,” he says. “I would do my job for free.”
Charles had been an industry supervisor most of his life. After retirement, he decided he needed something else to keep him going.
Charles had been looking for work for six months yet, with all of his experience, he couldn’t find a job. He stopped by the Career Solutions center in Jackson and, weeks later, Goodwill hired him as a DEC attendant.
Today, Charles is one of the first smiling faces our donors see when they visit the Donation Express Center on West University Parkway in Jackson.
“Coming to Goodwill is one of the best moves I have ever made,” he says. “I love everything about this job.”