#MissionMonday - Karen

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.

Karen’s father had a business that had been handed down to him from his father and his grandfather before that. He had a bad accident that required Karen to take a leave of absence from her profession to maintain the family business. By the time she was able to return to work, her certification had expired. Once she got that reinstated, she learned that there was a hiring freeze and she was still unable to be rehired in that profession. So she continued working in her dad’s business.

She dated and eventually married a man who was what she would now describe as a “closet drug user,” controlling and abusive. It wasn’t until they were married that she realized his drug use. She continued working at her father’s business and eventually found herself both working there and waitressing. Over time, Karen ended up working three jobs to make ends meet, with her husband taking her pay as soon as she brought it home.

Exhausted and disappointed about all of this and not being able to work in her chosen profession took its toll. She became depressed. Her husband gave her drugs to “help” her depression and, at first, she didn’t feel as bad ... for a while. Then he would give her more. Eventually, her father noticed that she was using drugs and fired her.

Around the same time, her husband was arrested. Karen kept using more drugs, and heavier drugs, until  – one day – she overdosed and was hospitalized. She had taken such a high volume of drugs that the hospital staff thought she had tried to commit suicide. The next day, Karen’s sister, who had also been abusing drugs for her own reasons, overdosed and died. Karen describes this as “a wake-up call.”

Karen’s older brothers brought her to a detox and rehab facility in northeastern Florida, where she began her journey to a better life. She stayed there for a few months but limited transportation in the area made maintaining employment a challenge. In the Sarasota-Bradenton area, she had extended family members, one of whom was aware of a local program called Learn to Fish, a faith-based 12-step program for women. Once she was enrolled in this program, she began to reconnect with her “higher power.”

One of the levels in the Learn to Fish program is employment. A worker at the program knew someone who worked at Goodwill Manasota who kept telling her what a great place Goodwill is to work. Then she came in contact with a Goodwill employee: one of the Goodwill Job Connection team members was providing resume assistance and interviewing skills training on a weekly basis at the program residence. She met with Karen and assisted her with her job application. The following day, Karen was interviewed and hired at Goodwill!

Karen has been working at Goodwill now for about seven months and she feels that when she comes to work, she is entering a safe place, a place where she has been empowered to thrive. She says that it is a very positive environment where mistakes can be made and are met with training rather than judgment or a rebuke. She enjoys working with her teammates. She has also has a GoodPartner Coach who has helped her to establish some personal goals and with whom she knows that she can talk when needed.

She is proud of her accomplishments during this time. She has purchased a car. Her self-esteem is improving. She has helped to pave the way for other women from her recovery program to get and maintain employment at Goodwill. She is involved with the GoodwillWorks program and well on her way to becoming a certified Role Model Worker. And she is moving toward earning a promotion into a leadership role.

Karen says that she now enjoys "giving back" by helping others in the recovery program. She is proud to say, “I’m building something for myself.” Between Goodwill’s partnership with Learn to Fish, and the Job Connection and GoodPartner Coach programs, Karen has built a stable foundation, an environment in which she has and will continue to grow and take back her life. It’s what we do ...