For many jobseekers with roadblocks in their past, finding steady, full-time employment isn’t easy. Despite his outstanding work ethic, drive to prove himself, and desire for full-time employment, Christopher was only able to secure temporary seasonal work for several years.
“I wanted full-time work, but it was incredibly difficult for me to find,” Christopher said. “I was ready to work and needed a second chance.”
At the beginning of 2016, Christopher came to Goodwill Industries of the Southern Piedmont as a referral from Mecklenburg County Department of Social Services’ Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, Employment & Training (SNAP E&T). A law was passed on January 1, 2016, stating that in order to receive SNAP benefits, a person must complete 80 hours of work-related education and training activities each month. Because of this new law, Goodwill formed a partnership with the Department of Social Services in which they refer people to Goodwill who need to fulfill their work-related requirement in order to qualify for SNAP benefits. As such, Goodwill Industries of the Southern Piedmont became one of the first third-party SNAP E&T partners in Mecklenburg County, as well as in the state of North Carolina.
Christopher arrived at Goodwill and was assigned to a Career Development Specialist dedicated not only to helping him fulfill his work requirement, but to also unveil and reach his long-term goals. This specialist learned about Christopher’s needs, skills and interests and together, the two of them created an individualized action plan designed to guide Christopher along his path to success.
First, Christopher completed Goodwill’s resume writing workshop, interview skills workshop, and brushed up on his job search and computer skills in Goodwill’s computer basics workshop. The knowledge and skills that Christopher gained through these training courses laid a solid foundation for the next step on his journey towards success.
Christopher was then accepted into Goodwill’s transitional employment program, where he worked at Goodwill’s University retail store for 90 days. Here, Christopher learned about retail operations, polished his employability skills, and was given the opportunity to prove himself as a valuable asset to the store.
After successfully completing the transitional employment program, Christopher was hired part-time at the same store. Then, after excelling in his part-time position for a few months, Christopher was hired full-time as a donation processor, a position he still proudly holds today.
“My dad and I used to shop at this very store that I work in now. When we would shop here, my dad would say to me ‘You should work here!’” Christopher said. “My dad passed on a few years ago, but I think he would be happy and proud to see me not only working, but working here.”
Christopher is already excelling in his new position and recently received the organization’s Employee of the Quarter award. Most importantly, full-time employment has given Christopher a new purpose and outlook on life.
“Unemployment hurts your self-image,” Christopher said. “Being employed feels great. It has improved my home life and my own self-esteem, and it makes me feel like I’m a part of the community.”
Because of his new career and steady stream of income, Christopher no longer receives SNAP benefits, and things that once seemed out of reach now seem possible. Christopher has set a new list of long-term goals, which includes working his way up the career ladder at his store. For the first time in a while, he is looking forward to the future and the possibilities that lie ahead of him.
“Goodwill has made a very positive impact on my life,” Christopher said. “The power of work has literally changed my life.”