Evelyn Franco believes in setting a good example for her three children, showing them that setbacks and barriers can be overcome with drive and persistence.
Evelyn’s journey to Goodwill – and to success — started when she moved to Eugene to live with her brother. She grew up in Lake Elsinore, California, a town nestled in the high plateau of Southern California that had great weather but little to offer in the way of jobs, especially for someone with learning disabilities, or programs to support a life in turnaround.
When Evelyn arrived in Eugene, she did so with the same issues she had in California: a learning disability, English as her second language (Spanish is her primary language), and weak reading and writing skills. She had missed a lot of school when she was younger. Filling out applications on her own was almost impossible. And she found that people judged her because of her accent, and at times made assumptions about her because of it.
But Evelyn was determined to work, and in Eugene, there were programs she could attend. She started with the State of Oregon Self-Sufficiency Program, where her caseworker referred her to Goodwill.
At Goodwill, Evelyn found the empathy, understanding and support that she needed in her employment specialist. There was an immediate connection between the two. Her employment specialist helped her, for instance, with paperwork, ensuring Evelyn understood it. That simple gesture helped Evelyn to know that Goodwill cared about her and her needs.
Once she started in Goodwill’s Supported Work program, Evelyn’s work ethic quickly showed through, and she was offered a Jobs Plus position at the Springfield store. Evelyn took the job, even knowing finances would be tight and with no guarantee of permanent employment. She felt it was the right gamble.
In the Jobs Plus position she worked as a sorter in the soft lines area, but she showed her versatility by cross-training in hard lines, books and the drive thru. Evelyn was performing well but there was always the nagging fear in the back of her mind that she would not be hired to a permanent position. She had come so far, both literally and figuratively, and she did not want to go back on public assistance. Following her final day in the Jobs Plus program, the Springfield store manager offered Evelyn a job. Her hard work had paid off. She was going to be gainfully employed at a place that truly understood and appreciated her.
That was over a year ago. Evelyn’s drive for independence for her and her family continues. She dreams of finally earning her GED and then continuing in her schooling to become a medical assistant or a skills trainer.