Rhonda Miramontes could have easily fallen into the same kind of life her parents gave her -- one of poverty and filled with drugs, criminal convictions, and absentee parenting.
Instead, Rhonda turned her life around with the help of Goodwill. The first steps were, at 15, after years of being in and out of foster care, finding a job, getting assistance in obtaining an apartment and legally emancipating herself from her parents.
Rhonda finished high school, and by 2008 Rhonda had worked her way up the ladder in the RV industry as a sales and service administrator for Paradise RV. She was responsible for coordinating services between customers, vendors and the sales and service departments. When the bank crisis hit the United States economy that summer, large luxury items such as RVs were no longer in demand. The business collapsed, and Rhonda found herself exactly where she never wanted to be — unemployed and on welfare.
Depending on the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program was humbling. But Rhonda was determined to get off the system as soon as possible, and she chose the supportive work experience at Goodwill as her Jobs placement. Her office skills and exceptional work ethic were recognized immediately and she was assigned to work in the Job Search Center.
Within a month she was recommended for a Jobs Plus position. Rhonda became known to both staff and customers for her intelligence, willingness to pitch in, and her “tell it like it is” attitude. As her six months in Jobs Plus drew closer, it was apparent that there would be an opportunity at Goodwill if she was willing to work in the stores.
Rhonda was unsure about this move. She had not worked in retail in a long time and it was not where she saw herself advancing. But after talking to staff she was encouraged to use it as a foot in the door. She saw that Goodwill likes to promote from within and opportunities could eventually come to move into other programs. “I’m a very loyal person and I feel that Goodwill is a good fit for me,” Rhonda says.
She accepted the job and started as a Lead Cashier at the River Road store last summer. Soon after, she moved into a supervisory role, but that meant working nights and leaving her girls, ages 16 and 8, alone at home in the evenings. It is not the perfect scenario, but it is a stepping stone up the Goodwill ladder. She will continue to work hard, stay determined and set high standards for herself.