#MissionMonday - Jeremiah

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.


 

Jeremiah joined the Marine Corps on November 7, 1999 because he wanted to serve his country and do something meaningful with his life. During service, he was able to visit Iwo Jima and see the place where U.S. troops raised the flag in victory on February 23, 1945. Jeremiah received a Navy Achievement Medal for assisting the Navy in reorganizing and streamlining their supply department on the USS Essex while on sea deployment. During that same deployment, Jeremiah went to Afghanistan for support operations right before Operation Enduring Freedom officially began. 

Jeremiah achieved the rank of Sergeant/E-5, a great success for a four-year enlistment. However, Jeremiah struggled to find work after his discharge. Finally, a friend hired him to do some janitorial work. A few years down the road, after helping this friend start a new landscaping business, the same “friend” told Jeremiah that he was never going to be able to make more than minimum wage. This comment sparked a fire in Jeremiah and he went back to school to prove to himself that his friend was wrong.

Jeremiah enrolled at Arizona Western College in 2004. After the unexpected and painful loss of his mother to cancer in 2005, he took a break from school. Two years later, he returned to the classroom and received his AA degree in Hotel Management in 2010.

Jeremiah decide to move back home to Florida in 2013. However, he couldn’t find a job, had no money and he became homeless. He applied for assistance at the Homeless Empowerment Program (HEP) in Clearwater and lived in the transitional housing program from 2013-2015. During that time he continued his schooling and received an AS degree in Tourism Management from St. Petersburg College. After he graduated, he received a veteran’s voucher from Pinellas Housing Authority, which allowed him, finally, to get his own apartment on St. Pete Beach 

Jeremiah wanted to complete his education. He decided to attend the University of South Florida Sarasota-Manatee, where he began his journey towards his bachelor’s degree in Hospitality. Jeremiah commuted to and from his apartment to attend classes at USFSM and for his new position as a VA Work-Study student. Through the Work-Study program, he became involved in the local veteran community and found that his passion for hospitality tied directly into serving his brothers and sisters in arms.

In 2018, he started volunteering at Goodwill Manasota’s Veterans Services Program, which led to the opportunity to complete a VA Work-Study assignment at Goodwill. A few months later, it was time for Jeremiah to graduate and find a job. Around the same time, Goodwill advertised an opening for a Career Development Facilitator in the Veterans Services Program. Jeremiah applied and started work at Goodwill on the very same day he graduated from USFSM!

Through all of his struggles as a homeless veteran and as a veteran who has struggled with PTSD, Jeremiah found his passion in life is to help veterans who endure similar struggles. He knows firsthand that life is not fair and a hand up makes all the difference when you are down. Because of his own homelessness and because of the helplessness he felt when a few of his buddies from the service decided to take their own lives, Jeremiah has made it his mission to assist as many veterans as possible.

Jeremiah wants to make sure every veteran he meets knows there is help for any circumstance, no matter how bad it gets. Jeremiah has been vital in the growth of Goodwill’s Veterans Services Program and is spearheading two new partnerships: Operation Healing Waters, a fly- fishing group for disabled veterans, and a veteran-specific AA group, aptly named Operation Sobriety Support. To top it all off, Jeremiah has just purchased his first home. He officially closed on the property on October 4!

We look forward to seeing Jeremiah grow and continue to use his passion to help other veterans. From homeless, to educated, to gainfully employed and, finally, to homeowner, Jeremiah is a success story who is proof positive that Goodwill is changing lives through the power of work! It’s what we do …