#MissionMonday - Joe

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.


Joe was a U.S. Army veteran. Last year, he was walking by the Goodwill on University Parkway and saw a sign on the building reading “Veterans Services.” He decided to stop in to find out exactly what types of services were provided. 

At the office, Joe met program director Todd Hughes, who was happy to provide an overview. Joe explained to Todd that he felt as if his life was going nowhere. He was having trouble finding a job. He did not have a driver’s license because he could not afford to pay off the fines he owed since his last DUI. He was an ex-offender and he knew many employers would not consider him for a job. It had been a while since he left the Army and he knew he needed to upgrade his skills – unless he wanted a job making minimum wage. He also told Todd that he was living in a place that he could afford but that he hated; he rented a room in a house where he knew other occupants were selling drugs.

Todd told Joe that the Goodwill veterans’ services team could assist with all those barriers. He referred Joe to the VETS program at Harvest House, a program that provides transitional housing for veterans who have struggled with returning to civilian life. Todd explained that the program provides a therapeutic community for veterans in recovery. Then Todd told Joe about a training program especially for veterans who wanted to learn a new skill: Vets-2-Chefs. Joe could receive training in culinary services and get a job well over minimum wage once he finished. Joe was delighted to enroll in both of those programs. 

Since that first visit to Goodwill, Joe has come a long way. He is thriving in the VETS program at Harvest House and he loves living there. He completed the Vets-2-Chefs program and is now working as a cook in a restaurant where he truly enjoys going to work each day. He volunteers at the Goodwill Veterans Services Program office whenever he has a day off. He began paying off the fees to have his license reinstated and he is almost there! 

Todd also connected Joe with another veterans group, SRQ Vets. SRQ Vets received a car that they wanted to donate to a veteran in need and they selected Joe! As soon as his license is reinstated, he will become the proud owner of a Ford Mustang. He is particularly excited about the car since it matches the car his son drives!  

Joe thinks that his spontaneous visit to the veterans’ program office last year has completely changed things for him. He says his life is back on track and getting better every day. He is glad Goodwill was there when he needed a jump start. It’s what we do …