Success Story: Shakira

Shakira Townsend is a busy mom who worked with people with disabilities for more than 15 years. She was ready for a change in her career, and her hobby of building and working on projects caused her to take an interest in the construction field.

“My dad remodels houses, so I guess I got it from him,” she said. “I was helping my dad remodel my mom’s kitchen and my sister said to me, ‘You like building and working on things; why don’t you take a class?’ So, I looked online and found Goodwill and I signed up.”

Shakira signed up for our Construction Basics course, which is one of the classes that is offered free of charge to the community, thanks to donations and shopping at our 31 retail stores.

She was a member of the fall 2021 cohort of the Renewable Energy and Efficiency Workforce (RENEW) Training Program, delivered at the Goodwill Construction Skills Training Center in partnership with the City of Charlotte. The class was lovingly nicknamed SHENEW, because it was an all-women construction course.

“When they told me they had a construction class that was all women, I was excited. Women that wanted to work outside, build houses and become project managers – I thought it was cool,” Shakira emphasized. “I liked learning welding and sodding. There was just so much that I liked [about the class.] I’m a hands-on person, so learning by doing things was great. I liked it all.”

Participants at Goodwill also receive wraparound services, such as resume building and interview prep, and being able to attend job fairs set up by our Employer Engagement Team.

“They help you through all of it. I updated my resume and I worked on an elevator pitch. That was very helpful. Then the one job fair I went to, I was actually hired on the spot,” Shakira shared. “They interviewed me there and before I left, I had my acceptance letter.”

Shakira works at Charlotte Water as a Field Op and in February, she reached her one-year mark with the company. In her position, she sets up the construction site and makes sure that safety measures are in place.

“Learning the tools, the safety and [how to] set up a construction site helped me in the field I’m in now. The majority of the techniques we learned in the class, I actually do. All of it really came in handy because you use it every day,” Shakira explained. “I’ve gotten my CDL [commercial driver’s license]. They’re teaching me to use big machines; I drive dump trucks and trucks with rigs. It’s exciting every day.”

Shakira is happy with her career path and plans to go up from here.

“I am very happy where I am now. I go to work happy, and I learn something new every day,” she said.

Charlotte Water also offers paid education opportunities for their employees, which Shakira is taking advantage of to sign up for classes in engineering.

“It wasn’t easy some days because you’ve worked all day, then have to make sure your kids eat, then go to class. But we triumphed through it. Plus, my daughter thinks it’s cool that her mom works in construction and drives big trucks,” she laughs. “I would do it all over again.”

You can achieve a new start with Goodwill, too.

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