Home for the Holidays

At eight months sober and counting, longtime Goodwill employee Larry is grateful for the help he’s received on his path to success.

Larry’s pain pill addiction began in the 1980s, and when his wife left due to his addiction, he struggled with depression and lived in isolation for more than a decade.

In 2007, the Office of Vocational Rehabilitation referred Larry to work at Goodwill, and he washired at the Paducah store. However, by 2016, his addiction was costing him nearly $500 every three days, until he enrolled in Goodwill’s GoodWorks program, which allows him to work one-on-one with Margie Silva, his job coach.

In addition to financial struggles, Larry began suffering from health-related issues. After developing ulcers in his feet as a result of diabetes, Larry wasn’t able to continue working full-time as a material handler. He discussed his health issues with the store manager and stepped down to a part-time cashier position with hopes of finding relief for his feet.

“I appreciated the flexibility, but cashiering was not a good fit for me,” Larry explained. “I was too much of a social butterfly, and I couldn’t stay focused.”

Larry was diagnosed with leukemia in 2013. With cancer treatment keeping him away from work and totaling $11,000 per month, keeping insurance was imperative for Larry.

“The regional manager, store manager, human resources, and GoodWorks staff all worked with me so I wouldn’t lose my insurance or my job,” Larry said. “It took a village.”

In 2016, Larry’s depression worsened, and his path to sobriety began.

“I called Margie all the time, just to cry,” Larry said. “I couldn’t get out my chair. I didn’t move for a week. She would send food boxes to my home. She was worried about me committing suicide, so I admitted myself to the hospital. It was a long and lonely road. I didn’t have visitors. I was vomiting and had stomach aches.”

With help from Goodwill, Larry found a detox program in December 2016 and spent 12 days – including Christmas and New Year’s – in a senior psych ward, where he worked on pain management and began repairing his relationship with his family.

“I knew I had a lot of work to do,” said Larry. “But I was ready.”

Soon, he was ready for outpatient therapy and has since remained sober. In the third week of January, Larry came back to work. Goodwill staff worked together to help Larry return to full-time status once he felt ready. He is now working as a full-time material handler, the position he truly enjoyed.

“I am so grateful that Goodwill was flexible with me,” Larry said. “Not only do I need this job to keep my insurance, but I also need it for emotional reasons. I need this support system. Goodwill is my family.”

He added, “I hope my story can help people. If it helps just one person, I would be happy, but I hope it helps more. Please be careful with pills. If you need help with addiction or depression, there are resources. If I can do it, anyone can. There is nothing to be ashamed of, and help is available.”

Since overcoming addiction, Larry has also reconnected with his children and grandchildren, who he now sees on a regular basis.

Larry asked that we provide links to resources that he found helpful:

Drug and Alcohol Abuse Hotline: 1-800-872-2525
Mental Health Crisis Line: 1-800-592-3980
Suicide Prevention: 800-592-3979
Office of Vocational Rehabilitation (Paducah, KY): 270-575-7304