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.



Jonathon lived in Greece most of his life and held a variety of jobs that he kept only briefly due to a serious mental health issue.He made the decision to move to Florida to be near his brother, who lived in Venice and who had always been his greatest advocate. Once he got here, he had to learn about life in the United States and, for a while, his symptoms became more severe. Finally, Jonathon made his way to Vocational Rehabilitation, where he was referred to a psychiatrist who helped stabilize his medications. 


Now that he had better control of his symptoms and was feeling better, he was referred to Goodwill’s external employment specialist, Sharon, to inquire about finding a job. When they spoke over the telephone, Sharon noted that it was difficult for Jonathan to communicate effectively. He came across in a monotone manner and needed to think about questions for several seconds before he could answer. Sharon scheduled an appointment so that she and Jonathon could speak in person.


Jonathan arrived on time and was well dressed but had trouble articulating what he wanted in a job and how many hours he wanted to work. Sharon asked him if there was someone else with whom she could speak in order to ensure he understood what she was explaining to him, and to get more details about the kinds of jobs he might like. Jonathon asked Sharon to contact his brother.


After speaking with Peter, Sharon felt that she had a better understanding regarding the kind of job Jonathon wanted and his capacity to perform. She developed a resume for Jonathon that focused on cooking, which he seemed to really enjoy. For several weeks, Jonathon and Sharon met to practice interviewing skills and, finally, he seemed ready for his first interview. But after interviewing for many restaurant positions, Jonathon was not able to get past the application stage. He did not want Sharon to accompany him on interviews or to follow up with employers afterward because he was worried they would learn of his mental health problems.


Several jobs came and went and, while Jonathan was able to ride his bicycle to interviews, it was becoming hotter and he was losing his enthusiasm for working. He had become discouraged by his restaurant job search and began applying for entry level jobs at grocery stores. His contact with Sharon became less frequent and he no longer responded to emails when she sent him job leads. Sharon went to Peter for help. Jonathon’s brother agreed to share the employment opportunities that Sharon had for Jonathon and encourage him to respond to each of Sharon’s emails.


Sharon set up another meeting with Jonathon and encouraged him to hold out for an opening in food service since that was the work he most wanted to do; Jonathan agreed to be patient. Shortly thereafter, a job opened for a cook at a nursing home close to where Jonathon lived. Sharon asked Jonathon to apply right away as these kinds of openings are often filled quickly. Jonathon applied for the position but didn't hear anything for several days, so Sharon asked Jonathon’s permission to contact the employer. This time, Jonathan agreed. Sharon called and spoke with human resources and learned that because they had a delay in hiring, the job was still open. Sharon talked to them about Jonathon’s experience in a variety of restaurants and they decided to give him a chance. Jonathan got the job!


It’s been six months since he started his job and he loves working there. He told Sharon that it feels like a home to him and he is hoping to stay there forever. Jonathan was glad to have an advocate who could describe his skills and abilities when he could not. It’s what we do …