#MissionMonday - Debra

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.

When Debra’s husband passed away, she became responsible for mounds of debt she didn’t even know she had. She learned that there were numerous overdue bills and her mortgage was in arrears. Debra called her bank to ask for an extension on the mortgage payment but the bank declined her request. They said they were going to foreclose on her house and she had 60 days to vacate the premises.


Debra had not worked outside the home in 20 years. She immediately began to sell her furnishings and pawned her jewelry. Out of desperation, she took a low-paying job as a live-in caregiver but she needed to earn more money so she could make her car payment and pay off the debt that was still hanging over her head.


She began searching for a new job to supplement her wages. The last “real” job she had two decades earlier was as an Administrative Assistant. She began applying for those types of positions when she learned that “the world had passed her by.” At the one and only interview she had the hiring manager told her that he would prefer to hire someone with no experience than to hire her.


Debra read between the lines – her age and her lack of experience were going to keep her out of the job market. Debra says she was heartbroken. She felt “old and used up.”


The next day, a friend suggested that she look for work at Goodwill. Debra was a frequent and avid Goodwill shopper and she knew exactly where to go. She stopped in at the Goodwill Job Connection closest to where she was living and inquired about a job. The Support Specialist at the Job Connection helped her completed a resume and told her that someone would contact her.


Debra had heard those words before; the hopelessness she felt overwhelmed her. As she walked to her car she began to cry. But before she could unlock her car, the Support Specialist caught up with her in the parking lot and asked her to come back into the office. She told Debra that if she could wait a few minutes, someone from Human Resources would meet with her today. Debra said she would wait as long as they needed.


Ten minutes later, Randy from HR sat down to speak with Debra. She explained her situation and, to her horror, she began crying again. Randy calmed her down and then made a phone call to one of the larger Goodwill retail stores. Randy told Debra she had an appointment for an interview with the store manager the next day. Debra went to the interview and the store manager hired her on the spot.


She was so happy, finally, to get a job that Debra sang all the way home. Unfortunately, her happiness was short-lived. Now that she had a full-time job, she could no longer be a caregiver and she was going to have to find a new place to live.


On her first day of work at Goodwill, Debra learned that she now had a GoodPartner Coach. She met with the coach right away and asked for help finding housing. Debra’s coach gave her a list of low-income and senior housing resources. About a week later, a co-worker asked the coach if she knew of anyone looking to rent a room. The coach immediately connected Debra with her co-worker and the two hit it off right away. That week, Debra had a new place to live and her co-worker would be able to keep her home now that she had some help paying the mortgage.


Debra has come a long way in the two years she has worked at Goodwill. She has become a Certified Role Model Worker. She knew that she could be a good worker if she could find the right employer—and she is very glad she found Goodwill. Debra says when she first came to Goodwill, she had envisioned losing her car and living on the street. Instead, she ended up with a great job, a place to live, a good income that is covering her bills, and her new “Goodwill family.”


Debra says she comes to work each day with a big smile on her face and she cannot stop talking about how Goodwill saved her life. It’s what we do …