#MissionMonday - April

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.


 

April’s father died when she was 5 years old and her little brother was 3. Her mother had difficulty making it on her own as a single mom and decided to re-marry in order to provide for herself and her children. So when April was 8, she was introduced to her new stepfather. Her mother seemed happier and, to April, it seemed like the family was okay again and that she and her little brother would be able to have a good life. Her childhood was normal for the next few years. However, when April turned 12, things seemed to change.  

April’s stepfather started treating her differently. Sometimes he would yell at her for no reason and then the next minute he would be really nice. Sometimes he would want to take her out for ice cream but did not want her mother or brother to go with them. Then, one day when she was 14, he made her feel very uncomfortable when he suggested that they take a walk in the woods alone. When she refused, he hit her. She told her mom who said that he was probably just under a lot of stress.

As time went by, April’s stepfather continued to make suggestive remarks to her. When she asked him to stop, he would get angry and usually hit her. April avoided him as much as possible until, one day, she just could not deal with the threats and intimidation any longer and left home. She stayed with friends when she could but mostly she was homeless and on the streets.

Nonetheless, April went to school every day. She did not tell anyone that she was homeless. One day when she was 16, her teacher asked for a parent's signature on some paperwork. April broke down and told the teacher she had been homeless for almost two years. The school administrators contacted her parents and April was instructed to return home. Once she was back home, her mother promised that things would be better but April realized quickly that nothing had changed.

This time, April left home and made her way to a different county. She found an agency that worked with homeless youth and asked them for help. She explained that she could not return home and the folks at the agency listened to her. She was placed into a group home and was able to complete high school. She got a part-time job and saved all her money. The day after she graduated from high school, she bought herself a used car, began working a full-time job, and returned home to make sure her little brother was okay. She spoke with her stepfather and mother and told them how she felt. This was a huge step for her.

April was doing well. She was working, taking care of herself, and making plans to attend college. Everything seemed good yet she felt depressed and anxious. She would begin crying for no reason and began having trouble focusing. She felt as if she was imagining things that weren’t real. Eventually these symptoms became bad enough that she lost her job, her income, and her car. She was about to lose her apartment and become homeless again when she got a call from an old friend from high school, Amy, who said she needed a roommate. So April moved in. Amy saw pretty quickly how April was struggling. She told April that she needed to “get it together and go find a job. “

One day, April walked into Goodwill, applied for a job and was hired immediately. When she heard about the GoodPartner Coach program she was intrigued. The GoodPartner Coach met with April on her first day of work. After hearing April’s story, she suggested that the two of them work on a plan right away. After a lengthy discussion, the Coach helped April realize that that the one thing that she had never addressed in all these years was her own mental health. So the first step on the plan was to refer April for mental health counseling. April made the appointment and, with her Coach’s help, got the appointment scheduled immediately.  

 Now April was in counseling. She had a steady job and a boss who understood her needs, a GoodPartner Coach, and a great roommate. April was doing well. She decided it was time to go to college. She also made the decision to stop going to counseling because she was feeling so much better. April left Goodwill and got a different job with hours that would be better for school.  

A year went by and April found herself struggling once more with depression and anxiety. She worried that perhaps she had tried to take on too much, too quickly. She really wanted to return to her old job at Goodwill but she was afraid that Goodwill would not want her back. She knew that if she had the support from Goodwill again and if she started counseling again, she would feel better.

April took a chance and called her former Team Leader Coach. To her surprise, the TLC was happy to hear from her and ready to welcome her back. Since then, April has returned to work at Goodwill. She has already met with her GoodPartner Coach and has a plan in place that will get her back in counseling and moving at a more manageable pace toward her long-term goals. April is grateful that Goodwill was there when she needed help most – not once, but twice. It’s what we do ...