Success Story: Mary

Mary Slaughter is a retired caregiver who now works with Veterans Affairs to take care of retired veterans in her home. With the time she has on her hands, she is always looking for something new to get into. Her knowledge of drones was limited, but one day, an interesting encounter made her think more about them.  

“My mom needed a new roof. I called to set up the inspection, but she said nobody came to the house,” she explained. “But someone did come to the home, and they did the inspection by drone. So that always stuck in the back of my mind.”  

Mary knew about Goodwill’s career training courses, but she had never taken one herself. “When I first moved to Charlotte over 18 years ago, I remember meeting a young lady who took the hospitality classes when they had them here. And last year, I told my brother about the Forklift class,” she said. “So when I was looking up the class for my brother, I saw there was a Drone Pilot class. And I said ‘someday, I’m going to take that class.’” 

Shortly after, Mary signed up for the course and was eager to start learning. “On the first day of class, I was amped. I just wanted to fly the drone, but there was more to it,” she explained. “I learned so much about the weather. We learned about METAR [aviation weather reports]. It looks like random letters and numbers, but by the end of the class, you’re able to read it so easily.” 

“You really get a deeper understanding of your surroundings and the different air spaces. You have to ask permission to fly in the air spaces,” she said. “So it was more than just buying the drone and flying it into the air. You really get a lot out of the class in that little bit of time. Time went so fast, but it was great.”  

In addition to the courses, Goodwill offers wraparound services to all participants, including help from a Career Navigator. “Keitha Stewart has been working with me to update my resume. I’ve utilized her so much and she’s so sweet,” Mary said when speaking of her Career Navigator. “[The career navigators] are a great asset to people. Take advantage of the whole program, even if you’re already working in the field. Use those resources because they can push you toward something better.”  

Mary sees that her career in drones is wide-open to possibilities. Since completing the course, Mary has been able to secure part-time work as a Drone Pilot for Bee’s 360, a company that does property inspections.  

She also recently created an interesting opportunity for herself with drones on a farm. “I contacted a farmer to practice doing an inventory of livestock with my drone. I found out how to turn my drone into a scanning tool to be able to scan livestock. From there, I got in contact with the U.S. Farmers Association and learned that there are over 10,000 farms in North Carolina alone. Once I get set up, I’ll be able to post my advertisements on the website to reach over 30,000 farmers,” she explained.  

Goodwill’s courses are offered free of charge to the community, thanks to the donations and shopping at our 31 Charlotte-area retail locations. “It makes want to give back and help somebody,” Mary said about the courses being offered free of charge. “Anytime I’ve learned something or see a job, I always share it with one of my classmates.”  

“The group of people I was in class with are my family. We challenged each other; we worked with each other. We helped each other and we didn’t let anyone give up. I got a great support system and a family out of Goodwill,” Mary emphasized.  

The advice Mary would give to someone taking the Drone Pilot training course? “Don’t let the new technology scare you,” she said. “Dedicate time to your newfound field of work. Be open and think outside the box. And create your own lane of opportunity in the field.”

If you or someone you know wants to donate to Goodwill to help support the nonprofits mission of building pathways that help people pursue the life they want to achieve, click here.

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