Goodwill Stories



Michelle (May 2019)

When Michelle walked into the Job Connections office at Seneca in December, she was anxious and discouraged. She had just moved to Oregon and was living with her husband’s family. She had been out of the workforce for the last four years and didn’t know what she wanted to do or how to start looking for work.  

She filled out the Welcome form and went on to find out about the services Goodwill Job Connections had to offer. She returned a few days later and attended a number of the different workshops offered, including “Effective Applications” and “ABCs of a Winning Resume.” Taking what she learned from the workshops, Michelle worked on her resume, applied for open positions, and reviewed the Job Leads Board at Job Connections each time she visited.

As part of her Order to Success Plan, Michelle was referred to the Work Experience Program. She began her Work Experience in the Goodwill E-Commerce department, which was a good fit for her. Michelle had a reserved personality and this position required her to interact with few people. As she became more comfortable at E-Commerce, she was able to grow into a position at the Seneca store, where she blossomed. Michelle completed 68 hours of Work Experience which helped her gain confidence and skills. She found she enjoyed working with the public more than she originally thought.

In March, a full-time cashier position opened at the Seneca store and the store manager asked Michelle to apply. She came to Job Connections to fill out her application for the position knowing she had the support of Goodwill behind her. For her application, Michelle needed to provide identification for the State of Oregon. Goodwill’s STEP program paid for and assisted with an appointment at the Department of Motor Vehicles. At the appointment, Michelle turned in her out-of-state identification and took the Class C Knowledge Test, which she passed the test with flying colors. In addition to receiving her new license, she was hired as a Goodwill cashier.

Michelle is now on her own and has a new life, and a new career goal: She wants to be a DJ. It’s hard to imagine the shy, soft-spoken, discouraged person we first met in December would dream of being the center of attention and performing on stage for crowds of people. It just goes to show, a little support and encouragement can make a world of difference for someone looking for a way forward, and Goodwill is proud to be that support for Michelle.



Sophie (March 2019)

Sophie was struggling when she came to Goodwill’s Job Connections. She had recently been let go from a position and didn’t understand why. While the job hadn’t been a perfect fit for her, she did not see the termination coming. After thinking through the situation for a week, she decided to come to Goodwill for assistance.

When she first visited Job Connections, it felt like a breath of hope. Through the workshops and trainings offered by the Job Connections Employment Specialists, she learned how to discuss her work history in an interview. Goodwill was also able to provide bus passes which allowed her to get to interviews, clothing vouchers, and assistance with salon services for a haircut. These tools are what Sophie credits with helping her believe in herself again.

In only three days after her first visit to Job Connections, Sophie was offered part time positions with RISE, Inc. and Walmart. In addition, she interviewed for, and accepted, a full time Supervisor position at Goodwill’s Seneca retail store and donation center.

The mission of providing vocational opportunities to individuals with barriers to employment is the reason Sophie is excited to work for Goodwill. She has past experience working for 
non-profits and is hoping to one day start her own organization. Her love of helping kids from low-income families achieve their dreams is what drives her passion in working for Goodwill. She is excited to learn more about Goodwill’s mission and is proud that she is working to help individuals in the community. She plans to participate in the Prosperity Center’s Transportation to Work Individual Development Account. Once she has completed her savings, she will be able to purchase reliable transportation, which is just one of the goals Goodwill is here to support her with on her path forward.



Jenny (January 2019)

Jenny was a recently divorced unemployed mother of seven who needed a job. She was referred to Goodwill by a local employer on October 29th, 2018 who knew how Job Connections helps job seekers find gainful employment. Jenny had been out of work for a while and she needed to find something as soon as possible. Even though she didn’t graduate from high school, which was potentially due to her learning disability, and had a criminal history, she knew she could earn more than minimum wage with the right employer.

Jenny made almost 20 visits to the North Bend Job Connections location and was motivated to get a good job to set an example for her children. The Job Connections staff assisted her with the Master Application so she could fill out job applications accurately. Jenny expressed an interest in being a Flagger and saw this as a position where earnings would be more than minimum wage. Goodwill was able to assist her with her certification through the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) Training and Employment Program (STEP). Jenny attended the Flagger Certification at Southwestern Oregon Community College, missed only one question and passed with 98% on the certification test!

Within a month of her first visit to Job Connections, Jenny was offered a job. However, the company didn’t have enough work to start her right away. Eventually Jenny’s patience paid off and she was hired as a temp-to-hire Flagger/Laborer for Coos County Roads Department in Coquille, Oregon. Job Connections assisted her in ordering and purchasing the necessary flagging equipment required, including the Stop/Caution sign, safety vest, two-way radios, hard hat and rain gear. She is currently making $12.00 per hour and once hired on permanently she will be a part of the union and begin earning $14.75 per hour with benefits. 

From start to finish, Jenny maintained focus on the job search and kept a positive attitude. Jenny says, “I am so excited because I am making this happen!”

Just like the 186 other people who found jobs through Oregon and Alaska Job Connections in the last quarter of 2018, Jenny is a valuable member of her community who is energized by her new opportunities. She is an inspiration to Job Connections staff and other individuals, and is now on the path to being able to support her family and be a positive role model for her children, while contributing to her community.



Edward (October 2018)

A desperate call to his son in Eugene seemed to be the light that Edward needed to pick himself up and make the over 3,000 mile move from Florida to Eugene. “Sometimes you need to take a step back in order to move forward,” Edward said. When he arrived in Eugene, he was homeless. Edward feared that he would be unable to find work, not only because of his situation but because of his ADHD. That’s when a community partner referred Edward to Goodwill Job Connections. Upon coming to Job Connections, Edward reported that he had an interview the following day but no interview clothes. He was given a clothing voucher for Goodwill and was able find a sharp suit. He was also given information on locations that offer food assistance.

Edward attended the “ABC’s of a Winning Resume” and “Interview Practice” workshops and brushed up on both his resume and interviewing skills. Edward went on to have excellent interviews with two local restaurants and he was hired by both locations. One of them has since signed Edward up for management training. Edward has also expressed interest in Goodwill’s Prosperity Program and the IDA program for financial empowerment. “You are the creator of your own success” Edward has said, and that has certainly proved true for him, with a little help from Goodwill.



Debbie (July 2018)

Debbie struggled with addiction that had taken control of her life. Her children had grown and she soon found herself slipping back into a life of chaos. Eventually, Debbie found herself in a position where she needed to care for her three year-old grandson. This sparked the hope and determination that would soon get her off of the streets. She went to the Department of Human Services (DHS) and signed up for assistance. Debbie came to Goodwill to participate in the Supported Work program as a part of the Jobs Program for her monthly Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) grant.

Detoxing from drugs and alcohol was a painful process, but it didn’t outweigh the sense of purpose and peace she began to feel. It was at this time that Debbie also received custody of her 18 month-old granddaughter. At Goodwill, Debbie was making a name for herself. The store manager was thoroughly impressed by Debbie, and asked her to apply for a job. With a little encouragement from many people, Debbie applied, interviewed, and was given the opportunity to work as a Cashier/Processor through the JOBS Plus program. Debbie says she is “very grateful to Goodwill for giving her a chance to prove herself.”



Victor (May 2018)

Victor was initially referred to Goodwill Job Connections by our partners at Centro Latino Americano for transportation assistance for his new job as a construction worker. In March of 2018 he lost his job, and returned to Job Connections in search of work. Victor was enrolled in Goodwill’s STEP program and after sitting down with him we realized that Victor had a communication barrier and was also living at the Eugene Mission. Our Goodwill Bilingual Employment Specialist, Cristal, helped him with his resume, and had numerous one-on-one appointments with Victor to assist him with job applications.

Cristal also helped him complete the Life Line phone application and noticed he could not read applications well due to poor eyesight. We worked with the Bethel Lions Club, which was able to provide him with an eye exam and a pair of glasses. Victor was very aggressive with his job search, and within a month he obtained employment at two locations. Victor stated in his own words, “Gracias a Goodwill por ayudarme a encuentrame trabajo y todos los servicios que recibí” which means “Thanks to Goodwill for helping me find work and for all the services I received."



Jamey (March 2018)

Jamey was born and raised in Coos Bay with a supportive family. Unfortunately this support was not enough to keep her from choosing to use drugs at the age of 16. Fast food jobs at Little Caesars and Wendy’s ended in termination when she failed drug tests or showed up impaired. Arrested for possession as a minor, Jamey was placed on probation and required to go through treatment at ADAPT Substance Abuse Treatment Center in Coos Bay. She really appreciated the support she was provided by her counselor, but this was not enough to get her to stop using drugs. Terms of her probation required that she enter ADAPT twice, and both times she failed at sobriety. Jamey knew enough about the system to try to evade the mandatory drug tests but it didn’t work, and three weeks after her 18thbirthday, and just before her probation was to end, she was arrested again and sent to jail.

Looking back now, Jamey says that it was a good thing that she did not finish her probation. Jail was the only thing that helped her understand she needed to change her life priorities. While she knew that her family would never leave her, they made it clear that she needed to be in recovery before she could be a part of their lives again. Regaining the trust of her family became the most important thing in her life.

Through a mutual friend, Jamey went to the Goodwill store in North Bend and spoke with Store Manager, Jason Samora. Jason let Jamey know that once her legal issues had been dealt with and she was fully off probation, he would take her application to work in the store. Jamey took the steps needed, and was hired in May of 2015. In the 18 months after she was hired, Jamey paid off her fines and court costs, applied for and received her driver’s license back, and became a valued employee at the North Bend store. She heard about the Individual Development Account (IDA) program, and met with Trysta from Workforce Development to discuss plans to save for a car. Jamey was accepted into the program on December 22, 2016 and in one year saved $2,000 for a car, which was matched with $6,000. This gave her $8,000 to purchase reliable transportation, which she now has. Jamey’s car made it possible for her to enroll at Southwestern Oregon Community College, where she is taking basic prerequisites courses until she determines what educational path she would like to pursue.

Jamey has impressed her managers and teammates in North Bend with her work ethic and attitude. In February of 2018, she was promoted to Supervisor at the store. Jamey turned 23 in January. “When I’m not at work or school, I’m with my family, and I don’t want to let them out of my sight. I won’t lose them again. Goodwill gave me a chance when others wouldn’t, and I love working at the store.” 





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