I walked through the doors of the Goodwill Opportunity Campus in 2016, feeling hopeless and at the end of my rope. I was jobless, penniless, almost homeless and desperately looking for a way to change my present set of circumstances. I was directed to Goodwill’s Job Resource Center, where I was given paperwork to fill out and one of those gadgets that alerts you when it’s your turn to be seen. It felt like I had been waiting for an eternity for someone to assist me. Finally, the gadget began to blink, and there stood Ms. Petreana calling my name.
When I entered Ms. Petreana’s office, she asked me my purpose for coming to Goodwill. I began to explain to her the areas of my life that required some sort of assistance (and that was every area), but I told her my primary reason was to find employment. At that moment, Ms. Petreana began to encourage me, speak life into me and, most of all, she said that Goodwill would partner with me in my efforts to rebuild my life. After speaking with Ms. Petreana, I began to look upon my circumstances in a more favorable light, saying to myself, “This partnership may be the start of a beautiful friendship.” My thoughts at the time were about establishing a “friendship” because I never imagined that the partnership would lead me to becoming a Goodwill “family member.”
Angela Mercer would be the next Goodwill team member to enter my rebuilding process, although I had NO idea what a major role Angela would contribute to the process at the time. Angela became my Career Development Specialist, and she worked diligently with me in an effort to obtain employment. However, weeks went by and I was still unemployed with the same set of circumstances I came through the door with (except my attitude towards those circumstances had changed for the better).
As a team, Angela and I realized that there were barriers from my past that were preventing me from obtaining employment, and that’s when she introduced me to the first of many Goodwill partners that were willing to become a part of the rebuilding process – The Center for Community Transitions (CCT). I attended their two-week program, a Working Smart program and their networking meetings every Monday afternoon. After completing CCT’s requirements, I found myself still unemployed but determined to rebuild. I affirmed to myself each day that today would be the day I would obtain employment, and although there were times when feelings of fear, doubt and frustration would rear their ugly heads, I would exhale those feelings and inhale peace, courage, faithfulness and perseverance.
As I continued to seek employment, Angela and Traletta Banks from CCT invited me to attend an informational session for a Goodwill pilot program titled the Economic Mobility Collaborative (EMC). After attending the informational session, I really wanted to become a part of the program because during the session we were introduced to a part of the program that I believed would change my life – COACHING!!! Natasha McRae was called to bring her talent and abilities to my rebuilding process. Although I was physically capable of performing a job, I needed some assistance in addressing my unseen issues, because without addressing those issues, I would eventually obtain employment (I believed that), but could I sustain employment? I have met with Natasha once a week for the past year and there has been major healing. We meet once a week in Room 1199, which I have titled “The Break Thru Room” because I have grown tremendously personally and professionally in that space (if those walls could talk…). Natasha challenges me, holds me accountable, does not condone foolishness, supports me and builds me up.
Angela Mercer’s persistence, firmness and challenge for me allowed Goodwill’s Transitional Job Program, Neemiah Papalii and the E-commerce department to become a part of the rebuilding process. Although the job I was offered was not my dream job, my work ethic allowed me to show up and perform my duties like I was working for a Fortune 500 company. Due to my commitment and dedication to the E-commerce department, I was offered a full-time permanent position (and the chance to become a Goodwill family member). As a permanent team member, my skills, talents and abilities have allowed me to transition into various positions within the department. I have held a lead position in the shipping department, and I currently hold the customer service specialist position.
Two years ago, I had no idea how much Goodwill would impact my life. I have obtained permanent employment, increased my standings on the Five Pillars of Stability, created financial goals for myself with the assistance of Common Wealth Charlotte (another Goodwill partner) and I am continuing to rebuild with the help of the SEEN and UNSEEN partners. My biggest hope is that my story is able to encourage and inspire someone to begin their rebuilding process. I’m so glad I opened myself up to this journey, and I’m so grateful to Goodwill for being by my side and helping me continue to rebuild my life. Thank you.
“No one came become successful on their own.” – Deborah Rose
Editor’s Note: Deborah’s passion to encourage and inspire others has made a lasting impact on our Goodwill family. We’re proud to share that Deborah has begun a new role as a peer support specialist with the Center for Community Transitions, one of the partner organizations housed at the Goodwill Opportunity Campus. Deborah seized the opportunity to help people with criminal backgrounds find a fresh start and a new path to success. Deborah is now sharing her story and her growth experience as she delivers speeches throughout the community to help others see that it’s possible to create change for yourself when you find the determination and open yourself to the possibilities that can exist with a little persistence. She is working each day to turn her dreams into reality – and live out her potential – and we are so happy to see her continue this journey.