#MissionMonday - Alina

Every Monday, we'll be posting a new story of how our mission has assisted people in the community. Be sure to check back each week for a new and inspirational story of someone who was helped by Goodwill Manasota. Changing lives through the power of work...it's what we do.


Alina and her husband moved to the United States from Russia in 2013 so that Alina could reunite with her parents, who were already living in the U.S. Although she was excited to come here, Alina had no proficiency in the English language. She was worried about how she would adjust to her new home and, more specifically, how she would learn the language.

 Soon after arriving in Sarasota, Alina enrolled in an ESOL (English as a Second Language) class. She studied for four months while working at a Russian grocery store for almost a year. She liked her job but she wanted a better one. She knew she would need to really focus on mastering the English language in order to improve her career prospects and to better acclimate to her new country. A family member who worked at Goodwill shared information with her about all the great things about working there and she suggested that Alina apply. Alina spoke English well enough to make it through the interview process and she was delighted when she was offered a job as a clothing hanger.

 Alina continued to attend ESOL classes online. It was expensive but she was determined to learn. Alina’s GoodPartner Coach, Shirley, encouraged her to enroll in on-site ESOL class through Goodwill.  The classes were taught by an instructor from Manatee Technical College. Alina was surprised to hear that she could attend courses at Goodwill while she was on the clock AND that there were funds available through Goodwill to pay for the class.

 She tried out the on-site class and later told Shirley that she liked the Goodwill classes better than the program she had been doing online. When Shirley asked her what she thought was the biggest difference between the two programs, Alina explained that the online program involved responding to questions but it never allowed her to actually converse with a live person. In the on-site ESOL class she was able to interact with other students and to receive feedback from a live instructor, who would immediately correct any grammatical errors and provide extra assistance with pronunciation.

 Alina thought that having an instructor who was so supportive and helpful to students was very beneficial. She said, “I’ve been in the MTC program for over a year through Goodwill. The ESOL class has helped me to understand the discussion we have at team meetings better. My co-workers help me when I don’t understand something. I also understand better now when I take the Donated Goods Classes online in Goodwill-U. I don’t need as much help from my GoodPartner Coach anymore.” 

 Six months after starting the on-site classes, Alina applied to become a U.S citizen. To prepare Alina for the test, the ESOL instructor helped Alina practice answering sample oral questions she might get from the Immigration Officer. Alina’s instructor gave her a book to study, which included 100 different questions that might be on the test.

 A few months later, Alina became a proud U.S. citizen. She tells everyone that without the help of Goodwill and Manatee Technical College, this milestone in her life would not have been possible. Alina has new goals now.  One of them is to become a certified Role Model Worker at Goodwill. Her GoodPartner Coach, Shirley, says that she will enroll her in the classes but, in Shirley’s book, Alina is already a Role Model Worker.

 Alina is very thankful that she has such a wonderful support system at Goodwill that enables her to achieve her goals. It’s what we do ...