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Carmen's Story

Carmen's Story

Carmen was an addict for over 20 years. During that time, she was homeless, dealing drugs, and in general doing whatever she needed to do to support her addiction. Consequently, she was in and out of jail numerous times. She was estranged from her husband, children and grandchildren— but at that time in her life she didn’t care about anything except how to get her next fix.

During her last stint in jail, Carmen was offered the opportunity to reduce her sentence from fifteen years to five months; however, it had many conditions attached. She was required to attend 12-Step meetings daily, obtain a sponsor, enter fifteen months of rehab counseling, and complete three years of probation – including unannounced drug testing. Carmen worked hard to meet them all.

After graduating from rehab, Carmen was required to move to a half-way house and start paying rent. In addition, she still had to pay off $3000 in fines, complete after-care meetings and classes, and find a job. This step in her plan was the place where she began to panic. Carmen didn’t have any work history, was a habitual felon, and fell into the “older worker” category. Who in the world would want to hire her?

She began asking around about employment after one of her many 12-Step meetings. She met a former Goodwill employee who advised her to apply at Goodwill and said that Goodwill would be the perfect place for Carmen to begin looking for work because Goodwill is a second-chance employer. This former employee shared that Goodwill had been a family to her of good, loving, caring people. Carmen was skeptical but decided to apply anyway. Shortly thereafter, she received a call from a Goodwill HR Team Member asking her to come in for an in-person interview.

Carmen was more anxious about that interview than any time she had gone to jail. In jail she knew what to expect, but she hadn’t had a job interview in over 20 years. She had no idea what to expect and that worried her. At her interview, Carmen was surprised: the leaders interviewing her didn’t judge her for her past and they were willing to give her a chance, a new beginning.

Once at work, on Carmen's second week on the job, she met with her assigned GoodPartner Coach. Carmen says her Coach has helped her through some very difficult times, encouraging her and helping her to set personal and work-related achievable goals, including obtaining her driver license, paying off her fines, and purchasing her first-ever vehicle! Carmen also became a certified “Role Model Worker.” She says her GoodPartner Coach is her biggest cheerleader, celebrating each new accomplishment.

Carmen will be forever grateful to Goodwill for providing a support network and helping her to rebuild her life. Goodwill took a chance on her by hiring her with no experience and never judged her for her past. Her job has helped her gain self-confidence, learn life skills training and teamwork skills and, most importantly, earn a paycheck.

Carmen learned that at Goodwill you can ask for help and know that someone is there to lift you up and support you no matter who you are. At Goodwill, it’s not where you came from that matters, it’s where you’re going. It’s what we do.

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