After her mother passed away when she was 18 years old, Raven’s brother moved her from New York to Charlotte so that he could look after her. Raven had never been employed and lacked the strong interpersonal and soft skills necessary to finding and maintaining employment. This is when Raven’s brother learned of Goodwill and its employment training programs and thought it would be a good option for Raven.
“I was excited to try out Goodwill,” Raven said. “I wanted to make a change in my life. I wanted to be able to get a job and be independent.”
Once Raven arrived at Goodwill’s Career Development Center, she was surrounded by people who were ready to support her personal and professional journey. She enrolled in Goodwill’s Employment Skills Training program, now known as the Beyond Employment Skills Training (BEST) program. For nearly three years, Raven came to Goodwill four days a week and worked to improve her emotional maturity, strengthen her soft skills, improve her time management skills, learn how to communicate more effectively, and learn how to present herself in a professional manner. She also took computer classes, horticulture classes, and her favorite – art classes. She even became a peer trainer in her art class, helping her classmates complete their art assignments and guiding them through their projects.
“I learned how to take criticism and believe in myself. I learned how to control my emotions and do good work,” Raven said. “Goodwill pushed me like my brother pushed me. They would tell me, ‘You’re really smart, intelligent, and kind. You can do this, Raven.’”
While completing Goodwill’s Employment Skills Training program, Raven worked with Tracey Jackson, a vocational coaching specialist at Goodwill, who helped her search for jobs, prepare for interviews, and placed Raven in her first job at Newk’s Eatery, a popular restaurant in Charlotte, where she still works today.
“As her job coach, it was enlightening to see her grow both personally and professionally,” Tracey said. “During the beginning phases of providing job coaching services to her, Raven was reserved and lacked confidence in her work skills. However, she soon gained confidence after practicing interview skills, completing good practice interviews, and completing hands-on workshops.”
Since accepting her job, Raven has adjusted well to her employed lifestyle and is excelling at her newfound roles and responsibilities.
“Since I have started working with Raven in long term vocational services, I can say that she exemplifies what a hard worker is,” said Erinn Elzie, vocational coaching specialist at Goodwill. “Every time I visit her at her job she is fully engaged, smiling and greeting customers. She is also always working hard to make sure that she is completing everything that is expected of her.”
With Raven’s employment has come additional opportunities for personal growth, and she is more confident than ever.
“I picture my mom saying she would be proud of me. She would say, ‘You’re not how you were back in New York. You’re more smart, independent and creative. You’ve accomplished a lot,’” Raven said. “I’m proud of myself.”
Raven feels grateful for the opportunities that Goodwill has given her and is excited about her bright future.
“Anybody that has come from having nothing, Goodwill can help you get a job. It’s possible. They can help you. If I can do it, you can do it,” Raven said. “I’d like to thank the people at Goodwill because they taught me things and helped me learn things I never knew.”