#MissionMonday - Rhonda

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.


Rhonda and her two children were homeless. The family was “couch surfing” – staying with different friends or relatives. It was hard for Rhonda to find employment; she left high school in the 11th grade when she was expecting her first child. Now Rhonda had four big and daunting goals: she wanted a job, her own apartment for herself and her children, a high school diploma, and to regain custody of her five other children who were living with her mother. She decided it was time to start tackling all of them, one by one. 

She was delighted to learn that Goodwill hired people with barriers to self-sufficiency. She went to Goodwill and applied for a job … and she got it! She was also happy to learn that this job came with a GoodPartner Coach who would help her make a plan to achieve her goals. That’s when things began falling into place for Rhonda. 

Now that she had a job, Jewish Family & Children’s Service helped Rhonda find an apartment. After working at Goodwill for a few weeks, she and her children moved in. 

Now Rhonda needed to get to work on that high school diploma. She registered for classes at Manatee Technical College and attended classes on and off for a few years. She really wanted to finish but the timing never seemed to be right – family issues kept her from getting to school as regularly as she would have liked. The last time she enrolled, she ended up having to drop out because she was planning to move into a new apartment. Unfortunately, the new apartment fell through and Rhonda found herself temporarily homeless once more. She and her kids moved in with a cousin who was living in Ruskin. 

Rhonda’s cousin told her about an opportunity to earn a high school diploma through a school in Hillsborough County. Rhonda contacted the School Board, sent her transcripts and enrolled in the Lighthouse Preparatory Christian School. About the time she started at Lighthouse, she was able to move back to Bradenton and was once more in her own apartment. 

Now Rhonda was very busy. In addition to maintaining her studies and getting settled into her new home, she was also working at Goodwill full time. She was thankful that her Team Leader Coach and her GoodPartner Coach were so supportive of her goal of getting her diploma. Her TLC made sure her work schedule would allow her to get to school and her GPC was her cheerleader: he checked on her frequently to make sure the family had everything they needed and he encouraged Rhonda to keep moving forward. 

Earlier this year, Rhonda regained custody of the children for whom her mom had been caring. Although she was busier now than ever, Rhonda was excited about the progress she was making on her goals.

Two months ago, Rhonda earned her high school diploma. She credits her faith in God and her supportive employer for helping her finally reach this milestone. Heartened by all of these accomplishments, Rhonda decided she had some more goals to add to her plan. 

Once she received her diploma, she was eager to obtain her Role Model Worker badge. She completed the assessments she needed to enroll in the program. Her coach gave her the workbooks for the classes she would be taking and her TLC allowed her time on the computer to complete each class. Last week, Rhonda became a Certified Role Mole Worker 

Rhonda isn’t finished yet. She recently enrolled in an LPN Program. She has a long-term goal of someday becoming a surgical technician. She knows it is an ambitious goal and it will take some time. However, Rhonda says that Goodwill has shown her that she is capable of accomplishing both her personal and professional goals – no matter how daunting they may seem. It’s what we do ...