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.

Anna visited the Selby Job Connection office accompanied by her sister, who had used Job Connection services in the past. When Anna sat down with Carlos, her Career Development Facilitator, she seemed anxious. Carlos asked her if she was okay. Anna worriedly asked, “Where’s my sister? I don't know what to say or do.” Carlos reassured Anna that he was going to ask her questions that would be easy for her to answer. Anna seemed to relax a little and told Carlos what was happening. She said she had been anxious all her life and was taking anti-anxiety medications but her symptoms had worsened in the past year. Both her mother and grandmother had died of cancer, just 18 months apart. Anna had been with each of them when they passed away. She was having a hard time dealing with these losses. 

Carlos understood that Ann was still very fragile because of the deaths in her family. He also knew that Anna needed to work. She was living with her aunt but she had expenses that would now be her responsibility. Along with anxiety, Anna had several other barriers to overcome: she had never had a job before, she did not have transportation, she did not know what kind of job she might be qualified for, and she did not have a telephone. For the first time in her life, Anna needed to behave like an adult, despite the fact that her support system was gone and her emotional issues. She was not sure she was ready. Carlos assured her he could help.

Carlos talked with Anna to find out about her skills and interests. Anna mentioned that she had attended classes at Suncoast Technical College in culinary arts and she had enjoyed them. They agreed that Anna would do best in a situation that was lower stress versus something in the fast food industry. They decided to focus on dietary aide positions in nursing homes. Carlos reassured Anna that they could find an employer near her home or on a bus route. They concentrated the job search on companies near her aunt’s home. Carlos and Anna searched online together and targeted three nearby nursing homes, which all had dietary position available at the time. Then they set about creating a resume and then Anna applied for all three positions. In the meantime, Carlos helped Anna complete an application to receive a SafeTrac phone.

Anna knew she needed to work on overcoming her anxiety. She asked Carlos about volunteering opportunities at the Selby Job Connection office. Carlos put her to work helping other job seekers who needed extra help using the computers in the office. Carlos noticed that after her first few visits to the office, Anna’s visible symptoms of anxiety had begun to fade.

Anna was surprised when she received interview requests from all three of the companies where she had applied. She was nervous about the interviews, so Carlos set up several mock interviews to give Anna an opportunity to practice so she would feel more prepared and less anxious during the actual interviews.

A week after the interviews, two employers offered Ann a job. Both called Carlos to make the job offers since Anna was still waiting for her phone to arrive. Now it was time for Anna to make a decision as to which job was the best fit, given her transportation limitations. Anna asked Carlos for advice and then chose the job that was closest to her aunt’s home. This decision was a difficult one because the other employer had offered her more money to start. Carlos was very proud of Anna because she made an adult decision and took into consideration what she was going to need to be successful and not simply what the hourly rate of pay was.

Anna recently completed her 90-day probationary period. Things are going well at work and her anxiety level is better. She is glad that she found some support when the world suddenly expected her to “start adulting.” It’s what we do …