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.

Hungry, tired and smelling of alcohol, Jane walked into the Selby Goodwill Job Connection seeking employment. Although she didn't have an appointment, Carlos, the Selby/Newtown Career Development Facilitator, sat down to speak with her. He could tell that if he didn't take this opportunity to talk with this unknown lady, he might not get an opportunity again – and Carlos was pretty sure he could help. 

Jane told Carlos how she earned an Associate degree in college, one of the high points in her life thus far. Then she talked about being homeless and addicted to alcohol over the past four years. Jane explained that her drinking began with her divorce. In addition to her drinking problem, she currently had no housing and no transportation. She had an arrest record for trespassing while camping on someone else’s property without permission. She also had untreated high blood pressure.

Jane had a lot of barriers to overcome but wanted a job with Goodwill. Carlos agreed to help but first Jane would need to prove she could be on time and alcohol-free for several appointments. Jane said she would try.

On her first follow-up appointment, Jane was neither on time nor sober. In fact, Carlos had noticed her stashing her remaining cans on the side of the building. He questioned Jane about her tardiness and the fact that she smelled like alcohol. Jane still wanted to work at Goodwill. Carlos told her he did not think she was ready yet. She had not yet held up her part of the bargain. Jane said she would try harder.

Jane applied with some other employers and ended up taking a job with a local retailer. She continued to come into the Job Connection office from time to time to see if Carlos would help with employment at Goodwill. She liked the fact that she could get full-time hours at Goodwill, she would be able to walk to work from where she was living now (in a carport that belonged to her friend – this time with permission), and she would get a life coach who could help her improve her current situation.

Each time Jane visited the Job Connection, she looked better and better. After two months, Carlos could tell that Jane was ready to apply for a job with Goodwill. He helped her get a SafeTrac cell phone and helped her set up an interview at Goodwill. The store manager who interviewed Jane knew she had a lot of barriers—but he also knew she was ready to get her life back on track. Jane did not want charity. She just wanted a chance.

A few day later, Jane came back to the Selby office. She was very excited to report that she had landed a job with Goodwill. She thanked Carlos over and over again for helping her to take the first step to reclaiming her life. 

Now the real work would begin. Her first week on the job, Jane worked hard. She also met her GoodPartner Coach, Diana, and discussed her current needs. Diana provided a list of food banks and referred her to a local clinic that could provide her with the medication she needed for hypertension. Then Diana and Jane set about developing a plan. Her short-term goals included learning her new job and keeping it, opening a bank account, and finding out what her current credit score was. Her long-term goal was going back to school. And, somewhere along the way, Jane also wanted to get her own apartment. 

These days you can find Jane at Goodwill: still on the job and still working hard. She is also working on her personal goals and she feels like she is making progress. Jane is glad that she found people who would tell her what she needed to do to become job ready, get a job, and get her life back on track. It’s what we do …