Story Behind the Stores: Chandra puts her Cars to Work participants in “driver’s seat of success”

Since her recovery date of March 9, 2013, Chandra has been passionate about helping others struggling with addiction. In 2018, she was working at a drug rehabilitation center when she realized she wanted something a little more hands-on.

That led her to Goodwill, where she started as a career coach.

“I know how it is to be in a position to need help and not have anyone there to stand in and help,” Chandra said. “So, I saw a job opportunity for a career coach and applied. I was blessed with that opportunity.”

A Harlan native, Chandra was a career coach in eastern Kentucky for two years before she joined a new program at the time, Cars to Work, which matches individuals with affordable transportation. She accepted the position of Cars to Work coordinator in eastern Kentucky and is now addressing a major barrier for locals.

“Transportation is something that really hurts our area,” she said. “It’s a barrier that we face every day.”

Chandra has been a perfect fit for her new role because of how she relates to her participants. She said she received many services her participants have, including expungement. If it wasn’t for the opportunities she received, she said she wouldn’t be in this position.

“I’m one that openly shares my story, and I can relate to my participants,” she said. “For them to see someone that’s been through something similar, it gives them hope.”

She said the feeling she has when she watches someone drive away is “amazing” – because she knows it’s a symbol of all the hard work they put in.

“I always tell (my participants), ‘You just wait – wait until you’re done with the program, and you turn the music on, buckle up and you’re all by yourself and experience that first ounce of freedom.’ It’s just amazing,” Chandra said.

To put herself in her participants shoes even more, Chandra took the financial course offered through Apprisen – which is a part of Cars to Work – when she began working at Goodwill. She said that’s an important part of the program and gives participants a chance to set themselves up for the future.

“When you apply for Cars to Work,” she said, “of course we’re not going to factor in the credit score, but we do expect you to take the Apprisen financial course. That can help you long-term. That’s just to put you in the driver’s seat of success.”

Chandra said she can’t see herself in another role besides one that helps individuals going through what she went through – and she said she can’t see that being anywhere else but Goodwill.

“Goodwill is hands-on,” she said, “hands-on with the people. That’s the most valuable part.”

To learn more about the Cars to Work program, visit www.goodwillkycarstowork.com.