#MissionMonday - Jan

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 she was younger, Jan had many different short-lived job experiences but never a stable career. She just was not sure what she wanted to do. When she met her husband, Pete, they were both attending businesses classes at the local community college. They decided to pool their money and they managed to start three different businesses: a greenhouse operation, a florist shop, and a landscaping company. 


During the downturn in the economy during the 2009 recession, they lost all three businesses. Jan went to work as a tax preparer and her husband became an ordained minister. As the economy began to improve, Jan quit her job and went back to school so that she, too, could become an ordained minister. Together, Jan and Pete started a new church where they were co-pastors.


Jan and Pete loved their new career. It was fulfilling work and it provided enough income for them to purchase a home. They added to their family when Jan gave birth to a beautiful baby girl, Annie.


The Smiths were now a happy family of three. Jan and Pete enjoyed watching Annie grow. They could not wait to see her take her first steps and hear her first words.  They became concerned when Annie reached the age where her speech and language skills should be developing but she was not talking yet.  They asked Annie’s pediatrician for advice and he directed them to a speech therapist. 


As time went on, Jan took on the full-time job of getting her daughter to all of her medical and therapy appointments, while Pete continued to serve as pastor to the church they started. Then he became very ill and was forced to step down from his position. Jan’s dad helped them pay the mortgage until Pete recovered and went back to work part-time at a local grocery store. 


The Smiths were a happy family once more – until Annie entered her teenage years. She became rebellious and made friends with people who engaged in questionable activities. She began using drugs, then got pregnant and had a baby. She hit rock bottom when she got arrested for crimes she had committed in order to get money to buy drugs. Annie went to prison for two years and Jan became the primary caretaker for her new grandchild.


By the time Annie left prison, Pete was seriously ill again. Jan was raising her grandchild but was having health issues of her own. She was unemployed and receiving SSI benefits. When Pete passed away, Annie moved in with her mom and her daughter to help. Annie asked if her boyfriend could move in, too. Jan agreed, since having three working adults in the home would make the mortgage payment easier on everyone. The problem was that neither Annie nor her boyfriend ever began a job search.


With her monthly SSI check as their only source of income, Jan could not provide for three adults and a small child. She made a visit to Kathy, the Goodwill Career Development Facilitator at the Turning Points Job Connection office. By then, Jan had put her house up for sale with the hope of selling it and using her home’s equity to pay her outstanding bills and rent a new place to live. She had already discontinued her internet and cable service. There was no food in the house. Yet neither Annie nor her boyfriend were doing anything to help.


As Jan relayed her story to Kathy, it was clear that she was still mourning the loss of her husband and that she was furious with her daughter. Jan was not sure how to move on with her life or how to overcome the negativity and helpless feelings that consumed her. She worried that she did not have any recent employment history and was not sure that she had any relevant skills to offer an employer. 


Kathy talked with Jan about all of the things she could do to move forward – and there were many.  They discussed re-cultivating the positive mindset that would help Jan get where she wanted to be. Kathy had many suggestions, including getting a library card, taking free online course, reacquainting herself with the members of her former congregation, or volunteering her time in order to get some recent work experience.


Kathy also helped Jan begin her job search. They worked on Jan’s resume together and practiced interviewing skills. As her spirits began to lift, Jan found that she was also beginning to get calls for interviews. She wanted to be cautious about the type of job she accepted. She wanted to start with part-time work and she wanted the work to feel meaningful to her. Jan made weekly visits to the Job Connection and, each time, Kathy provided her with a list of job opportunities.


Jan was surprised and elated to get an opportunity to interview with the Sheriff’s Department as a part-time Administrative Assistant. This job would include maintaining supplies for the front office, jail, kitchen, officers and other areas within the Sheriff’s Department. She went to the interview and she was cautiously optimistic. The interviewer told Jan they would let her know the outcome later, as they had a few more candidates to interview.


Jan continued to apply for jobs with her new attitude. Unexpectedly, more than two weeks after the interview, she got a call from the Sherriff’s Department, offering her the job! Jan gratefully accepted.


Jan loves her new job. She is still working part-time but she makes enough money to pay her bills. Jan meets other people from time to time who are experiencing that same helpless feeling she remembers and she has advice for them: she recommends that they “stay active, keep happy, and do the things that make you feel alive. That’s what brings the magic into your life.” Jan also tells people, “There are community resources, like the Goodwill Job Connection, that are there to help. Use them!” 


Jan is glad that she found Goodwill when she needed someone to give HER that same advice. It’s what we do …