Rosa grew up in a very poor country where the average person struggles to pay for basic needs. People do what they can just to have enough to eat. In her parents’ small yard, they kept a few chickens and usually a hog, and kept a close eye on the animals. At night, they brought the animals into a small room in the back of their house so they wouldn’t be stolen. When people visited from the U.S., they occasionally brought presents like clothes, new tennis shoes, baseball caps, and sometimes even a toy. These things were not available to most people in her country. Rosa dreamed of the day that she could come to the U.S. and earn enough money to purchase these things for herself.
Rosa graduated from high school. She thought about going to college but it didn’t seem like a good idea. In Rosa’s country, the government makes it difficult for citizens with college degrees to leave and her goal was to leave as soon as possible. She knew that all the doctors and other professionals in her country earned just a little more than the average person with no education. Most of the college-educated citizens moonlighted to supplement their income, working at the airport and other places frequented by tourists. Rosa was looking forward to a time when she wouldn’t have to struggle just to get by.
Then she met Juan. They married and had a son. Both she and Juan agreed that they should leave and go to the U.S. in order to make a better life for their small family. However, leaving was no easy task. Finally, Juan got the chance to get out of the country on a small boat. Rosa and Juan didn't want to risk their son’s life so Juan came to America by himself, leaving his wife and son behind. It took another two years for Juan to save enough money to bring his family here.
When Rosa finally made it to America, she had a different set of challenges. Neither she nor Juan could speak English well, so they ended up moving from job to job. When they moved to Sarasota, Juan got a job as a dishwasher. Someone told Rosa about Goodwill, an organization that hires people with all kinds barriers to self-sufficiency. She interviewed and was hired to work in a Goodwill store.
When she wasn’t working, Rosa spent all of her free time trying to learn English. She watched American television shows and read all the old magazines and newspapers she could find. Most of the time she did not understand but, little by little, she began to learn new words and then sentences. She went shopping by herself and she learned more. She liked the people at Goodwill and enjoyed her time working in the store. Her co-workers spoke to her in English and that helped her improve her fluency skills. Rosa’s GoodPartner Coach helped her to work on her financial literacy skills as well. She opened savings and checking accounts and got her first credit card in order to start building credit.
Juan found a better job at a factory and left his dishwashing job. After working at the factory for a few months, he spoke to the manager. Now that Rosa could speak English so much better, the manager offered her a job there, too. Rosa left Goodwill after giving her two-week notice. She was sad to leave the friends she had made but grateful that when she needed a job, Goodwill gave her the opportunity.
Rosa is thankful that during her time at Goodwill, she learned to speak English and how to budget and save money. Now she and Juan don’t feel like they have to struggle just to put food on the table. She can see a time where they might even be able to purchase a home – one that won’t require a space for chickens in the back room. Thanks to Goodwill, she is well on her way to that “American dream” she has envisioned all of her life. It’s what we do ...