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.

Marie was born in Germany. After graduating from high school, she became certified as a dental assistant and worked for six years in a local dentist office. She had several other jobs, too. After going through a divorce, she decided she needed a change of pace. 

Marie had always wanting to travel so she decided to visit her sister, who lives on the east coast of Florida, for a vacation. She loved Florida and ending up living with her sister for about four weeks. She decided that she wanted to stay in the U.S. and see more of the State of Florida. Marie got in her car and traveled the east coast on A1-A, crossed over to Lake Okeechobee and headed west until she stopped at Anna Maria Island, where she had friends. Marie spent two days on the beach and fell in love with that soft, white Florida sand. One evening, she went to hear a band play and met husband #2. They were married for 15 years, until he passed away.

Now Marie needed to find work. She applied for a job at Manatee Memorial Hospital, where she worked for a year while attending school at Manatee Technical College. She wanted to earn an American high school diploma because she thought it would help her get a better job and she would be able to improve her English language skills. Marie’s supervisor scheduled her shifts so that she could attend school in the morning and work in the evening. 

A year after she began working at Manatee Memorial Hospital, Marie slipped and fell.  Her injury led to surgery and she missed a lot of work and school. Marie’s recovery took six months and the hospital was not able to hold her job for her – she knew she needed to seek employment elsewhere.

Marie worked other jobs but couldn’t find anything that felt like the right fit. She wanted to complete her education and find meaningful employment. Marie had shopped at different Goodwill stores around town. One day she stopped in at a Goodwill Job Connection office and met Kathy Goeller. She explained to Kathy that she was looking for a job and that she had no food at her home. Kathy told Marie how she could get assistance from a nearby food pantry, then they addressed the job search. Kathy knew that Maria wanted to finish school and get her high school diploma. She told Marie about the many programs for Goodwill team members and suggested that Marie might like working at Goodwill. Marie thought that Goodwill sounded like an employer that could help her achieve her goals. Kathy helped her to apply and Marie was hired as a Sales Floor Associate – she has been working at Goodwill for the last three years.

When she met her GoodPartner Coach, Shirley, Marie had already returned to the MTC program and was attending classes daily. Shirley explained that Marie could take the classes at a Goodwill community room and remain on the clock while attending classes. Marie was elated. She was almost finished with her classes and she knew the convenience of going to school onsite would help her finish faster. Four months later, Marie graduated with her high school diploma.

With that milestone achieved, Shirley told Marie about the Role Model Worker program. Marie couldn’t wait to get started. She knew that this training would also be very valuable to her professional development. She enrolled in the program and became a Certified Role Model Worker earlier this year.

Working at Goodwill has helped Marie solidify her plans for the future. Eventually, she wants to become certified to work with inmates who are transitioning back into society. She says she always knew she needed a job where she was helping people in need. Marie is happy that Goodwill gave her a “fresh” start on life: securing a job, finishing her high school diploma and looking at life differently so that she could move forward to pursue the next steps on her journey to her dream job.

It’s what we do …