Right out of high school, Jeremy Ross of our Milton store turned to Goodwill for help. When asked what brought him to Goodwill, he said “I went through the training program at the Career Center.” He started discussing the various skills he learned, such as customer service and organizing merchandise. Through the training program, he also obtained other job skills, like how to build houses or doing different jobs through the Vo Tech Center. Jeremy stated that he enjoyed learning many skills that help him achieve goals at work. He now works full-time at our Milton store. When asked what his favorite part about working at Goodwill was, he said “I enjoy the people I work with and interacting with all of our customers.” He believes this opportunity helped him learn, and wants to continue learning with Goodwill. When asked what advice he as for others in a similar situation he said, “Go through the training programs at Goodwill, and learn as much as possible.”
Brandy Eplion of our recycling center is a prime example of the good that can erupt from perseverance. Years ago, Brandy hit her personal rock bottom. “Like so many other people, I felt hopeless, like there was no way out. I had no goals except making it through the day.” She recalls how hard it was to find a job to support her two kids during this time, and how, when she did finally acquire a job doing adult daycare, a downsizing client base put her back at square one.
“I had a friend who went through the Work Adjustment Training program [at Goodwill], and she told me about it. So I tried it out, and in the beginning, I was like, ‘I could do one of their cleaning jobs. I could do that. I can clean.’ That is where my mindset was. I just wanted to work.” “Once I got through the program, I started realizing that there was a lot going on in the warehouse at Virginia Avenue, and I was like Oh my goodness, it would be so fun to work here. I would like that!” Brandy began as a part time worker and was promoted to full time. After doing an exceptional job in retail, she was then promoted to Administrative Assistant at the Goodwill Recycling Center!
“When they asked me to come to the recycling center, I was petrified. But I tried it, and now I love it. I enjoy putting orders together for the stores, and multitasking is something that I have learned that I am great at. I did not realize it was a strength! I have always been like I cannot do that. I cannot do this. I am not going to put myself in that situation, where people can judge me. I think that is why I am so rough on myself and I put myself down, and I should not, I know.” Now, Brandy is proud of herself. “If anything, coming here has given me the chance to prove myself. I love working for a company that cares about you and trusts you.” When asked what advice she could give to people, she said, “To always try to succeed, no matter how far, no matter what. It can always get worse. Always try, never give up.”
“My journey began a few years ago when I found myself standing alone, about to divorce after 20 years of marriage. Throughout my marriage, I took employment at each duty station and worked any position I could to bring in money. Most military families relocate every 3 years, so building my own retirement was out of the question during this time.
I was lost, scared, and had no idea where to turn to. I went down to the CAO in hopes of guidance and support. What I found was a life changing opportunity. There I learned about the services Goodwill had to offer. I had no clue besides the thrift stores that Goodwill had so many programs to train people and get them back on their feet. Within two weeks, I had enrolled and was ready to begin my classes. The small classroom setting made it much easier to learn and the outstanding instructors made it easy to simply say, “I’m lost” or “I don’t understand the meaning of these medical terms” or my favorite, “How do you even pronounce these words”.
I was taught Medical terminology, Law and Ethics, computer knowledge such as Word, PowerPoint and Excel (which I use every day). They taught me how to build a resume that would stand out from others. They showed me how to dress, answer interview questions and built in me the confidence I would need to make it on my own. After completing the MOST program and obtaining my certification, I took on a job with a company that was temporary while I searched for permanent employment in the medical field. During this time my personal life had taken its toll and my marriage had come to an end. I remember walking back through the doors at Goodwill and sitting down with my director and I just broke down, cried, and let her know how scared I was and concerned about what I was going to do. She handed me tissues and smiled and said just because you have completed your classes does not mean we are finished helping you.
Over the next few months they set me up on some interviews and I gained a permanent position with a company that had nothing to do with the medical field, but I was so happy to have income. I went ahead and took the job. I felt no matter the job, I would learn some type of skill from working there. But as you might guess my team at Goodwill did not give up on my goal to work in the medical field. I took a weeks’ worth of refresher courses in computer training and was asked if I was willing to take on a 6 month temporary job at the hospital and this opportunity could lead into full time employment. I felt this was my opportunity and I could not pass up and a chance to get my foot in the door, learn some new skills, and secure a full time position. So here I am 10 months later. I am now a Full Time State Employee of Mildred-Mitchell Bateman Hospital! I am the office assistant to the Psychology department and I now have secure income with benefits and a retirement. This is something nobody can take away from me because I earned this on my own and I will forever be proud to say ‘I am a graduate from the MOST program from Goodwill Industries!’ “
It’s hard to not stumble over something when navigating the jewelry room inside of Goodwill Industries of KYOWVA’s e-commerce headquarters. At a glance, it’s chaos – there are boxes, shelves, and tables everywhere, and they’re all full with a variety of jewelry ready to be sorted and auctioned off online. However, to Miranda Monroe, there is a very precise “method to the madness” that only she understands. Sorting product is not her only responsibility at Goodwill’s e-commerce, but when she explains her system to those interested, she does so with joy and enthusiasm. She is rightfully proud of the impressive detail she puts into her work.
Miranda shows the same passion for Goodwill as a whole. “This job is so much fun,” she says as she continues to sort, “It’s so educational. There’s never a dull moment – there’s always something different every day. We’re always functioning as such a great team.” She also says Goodwill allows her to show her personality in her work. “I actually did not work for a very long time because I’m on social security disability, but they started this program where if you work part time and stay within certain hours, you can still have your social security. I was bored just hanging around the house and doing only charity. I needed to do something, so I was referred by someone that I go to the synagogue with.” Miranda reveals that when she was interviewed, they found her personality was so delightful that they found the perfect position for her in e-commerce.
Miranda, who has now been at Goodwill for over a year, remains active in charity work and singing in the choir at her synagogue. When asked what advice she would give, she responds: “Anyone who wants to work for Goodwill: it’s a dream job!”
Joseph “Mike” Fitzpatrick sits in an office chair – just one of the thousands of donations that are also being held in Goodwill’s e-commerce warehouse to be sorted and auctioned off online. He rests his folding cane in his lap and looks off elsewhere as he’s spoken to – but don’t be deceived. He listens with attentive patience, and when he’s decided it’s his turn to talk, his words are polite and soft-spoken.
When asked what brought him to work for Goodwill, Mike says, “I’ve been visually impaired for 11 years now, and I’ve not worked ever since,” later revealing that his condition resulted from a tumor in his head. “I’ve always heard [Goodwill] is good to work for. Plus, I think I’ve been led here. My wife and her friend had worked here before, too.” Mike enjoys working at Goodwill for several reasons. “It keeps me busy…[and] it gets me more out in the public.” He reveals that organizations he’d previously involved himself with “didn’t think [he] was part of the public” and dropped him. Meanwhile, Mike has found a supportive community within e-commerce that he contributes to. “There’s been so many people that I’ve helped. I’ve helped them and I know they’ve helped me too.” When asked what advice he would give to anyone going through a situation similar to his previous one, he thought for a brief moment, then simply stated, “Hm, just keep your head up.”
Prior to Megan’s enrollment as a consumer of the Medical Office Skills Program, she had only help one job, that lasted for five months. In a wheelchair, Megan felt that no employer could see past this. She openly admitted during the enrollment process, that her goal was for people to see her as a person without a disability. After enrolling in the program, Megan’s self-esteem and self-confidence dramatically improved. Upon completion of the program, she gained 12 college credits and became a Certified Medical Administrative Assistant. Soon after, HIMG hired her as a Registration Clerk. Eight months later, Megan is still employed at HIMG and is known among co-workers as “giggles”. Her positive attitude has been an encouragement and motivation to patients and HIMG employees.
Work Adjustment Training (WAT) Student
A homeless student was referred to our program by the West Virginia Division of Rehabilitation Services for Work Adjustment Training (WAT) in July of 2015. She successfully completed Work Adjustment with perfect attendance and was referred for Direct Job Placement Services. Our Employment Services Team assisted her in getting a job at Chick-fil-A, where she continues to enjoy her work. Upon completion of the program, her self-confidence and communication skills significantly improved. She is no longer homeless and has overcome barriers that had help her back in the past, to becoming an employed member of our community.
“I was a disabled veteran with over thirty years of work experience when I came to work adjustment training at Goodwill Industries of KYOWVA. I have had more than 36 combined years of service in the Army and National Guard. In 2006, I became disabled in the line of duty, suffering from back and knee injuries along with respiratory problems. By 2011, I started becoming restless and wanted to make a change in my life. I was trained to process and sort donated goods through the warehouse and in completing janitorial duties. During this time I also enrolled in a Serve Safe Food Protection Manager certification course through Goodwill, obtaining my certification in August of 2011. I am also proud to have received an award for perfect attendance. The Work Adjustment Training program helped me with job searching, creating an up-to-date resume, and interviewing skills. After my program completed, I had the confidence to get back in the field to make contacts for job leads. In September of 2011, I was hired as a custodian at Marshall University Medical Center after working with my Community Employment Specialist at Goodwill. This job has enabled me to come off my disability income and successfully re-enter the workforce with an excellent salary and benefits.”
Joette saw a newspaper ad for Goodwill’s Medical Office Skills Training (MOST) and felt this was a great opportunity to change into a more successful career. Joette was working part-time in the retail industry and was financially stressed when she contacted Goodwill’s Career Center. From here, she applied for financial aid and was awarded financial assistance to help her go back to school. Joette stated the medical office skills program “helped her gain the confidence needed to re-enter the workforce and brush up on her computer and clerical skills.” As part of Goodwill’s MOST program, students complete an internship at a local organization in the medical office setting. Joette completed her internship at Mildred Mitchell-Bateman Hospital and as a result of her positive work ethic and skills she began working three days a week. In September, she obtained full time employment with Mildred Mitchell-Bateman Hospital. She stated that finding a job with great benefits has alleviated her stress. At age 60, Joette reminds us that age is merely a number and it is never too late to reinvent yourself.
Hear what other clients and students have to say about Goodwill:
“Thank you for helping us get on track so that we can now live.” – former Consumer Credit Counseling client
“Goodwill took me from living in the streets and no job history to full-time employment and my own home. Thank you so much!” – Career Center student
“If I ever need assistance again, I will most definitely seek out this same agency.” – former Family Service Counseling client
“From their kindness and compassion, to the convenience of the drop-off box, I couldn’t have asked for more. I could not have undertaken this journey without their invaluable guidance and support. I will forever be grateful.” – former Consumer Credit Counseling client