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.

John met his GoodPartner Coach a few days after he got a job at Goodwill. He reported that he was happy to have a job. He explained that it had been hard for him to secure employment since he had a recent history of felony offense and incarceration. He had moved to Florida a few months earlier, thinking he’d have some family support, and moved in with his aunt. Although his family had never been particularly supportive in the past, now – with a job and temporarily housing – John felt some security and was excited to have a chance to start over again. 

John and his GoodPartner Coach (GPC) began to discuss John’s goals. He told his GPC that his focus had always been on having fun with his friends and that setting goals was difficult for him – he had never given much thought about what he wanted to accomplish. Perhaps his inability to set goals was even the reason he got into trouble with the law.

Over the course of the next couple of months, John started setting goals. He knew he needed a car so that he could be independent and he knew he wanted his own place so as not to be a burden on his family. John also started thinking about some career goals. He said he was not even sure at first what having a career meant because he always viewed a job as just a way to pay bills. John was beginning to re-think everything 

Unfortunately, John had a setback when his aunt told him that she needed him to pay a lot more in rent, and she demanded he pay that amount retroactively from the date he first moved in. John agreed to help pay the increase going forward but he could not afford to pay the retroactive amount. His aunt filed an eviction notice, claiming John owed the back rent.

John had nowhere else to go and now he would need to divert the money he had saved for a car to finding a new place he could afford as well as moving expenses. The eviction notice gave him two weeks to move, since there had not been a lease. John’s GPC provided him with many housing resources in the area. He finally found a room for rent and made arrangements to move in but, during the two weeks he was still living with his aunt, she destroyed his belongings while he was at work.

John decided he needed to call the police because he was concerned as to what else his aunt might do. He was also concerned because he really did not want any involvement with the legal system. He was sure that he would not get fair treatment because of his previous conviction. Nonetheless, he filed a police report and the police conducted an investigation.

John received notice of a court date, ordering him to appear at a hearing to face allegations from his aunt that John had destroyed property in her house. John retrieved his remaining belongings and moved to his new place. 

With no money except his next paycheck and only a bike to get to and from work, John felt like he was back at square one again. He was very concerned that his criminal background was going to come back and haunt him in court. His GPC suggested that he get some legal advice and referred him to a group Goodwill collaborated with frequently: Gulf Coast Legal Service. John made an appointment and afterward told his GPC that the folks at Gulf Coast had been very helpful. He felt that he now had a knowledgeable advocate on his side and he was ready to face this hearing. In court, with the guidance Gulf Coast Legal had given him, John presented his version of events. The judge listened and then dismissed the case. John felt that for the first time the justice system was on his side.

Now John and his GPC could go back and revisit John’s plan. They discussed his goals, revising a few of them. John finally felt confident that he could move beyond his past. He still wanted a car as his next step to independence. With some tight budgeting, John bought one just four months later. Now he is ready to focus on his next goal: leaving the room he is renting and leasing an apartment of his own.

John says he feels at home at Goodwill. His family had let him down all his life but now he says, “Goodwill is my family and my support system – from leadership and my GoodPartner Coach to my fellow team members.” At long last, John has a renewed – and very positive – outlook on life. It’s what we do …