Story Behind the Stores: Jennifer says Goodwill “has given me my life back”

Jennifer said she gets emotional when she thinks about where she was just a couple years ago. As a result of her addiction, she was sleeping behind dumpsters on the streets of Louisville.

After a stint in prison, Jennifer said she couldn’t find or keep employment even though she had become sober for the first time in 10 years – she needed a second chance. That led her to Goodwill.

Since joining our Hikes Point team on Nov. 5, 2020, she’s been promoted to team lead and assistant manager, first at our Hillview store and now back at Hikes Point. She recently completed our GREAT program, a 10-week retail advancement training, and is now an assistant manager II.

Jennifer has also taken advantage of our programs and services. She obtained a vehicle through our Cars to Work program.

“Goodwill has given me my life back,” she said. “I’ve done the Cars to Work, I’ve been promoted, I have keys to the store, the safe. Lesley (senior store manager), who’s been a role model, trusts me. Goodwill has given me my life back, for real. I have my own home, my own place now. I have a car. I was in addiction for a good 10 years. Lost my kids, got a divorce, was homeless.”

Being around others who have gone through the same challenges is what welcomed Jennifer. She said she has a flexible schedule and can lean on her managers for anything. They’re currently assisting her with record expungement.

Jennifer said all the resources we offer motivate her to be the best employee she can be. While we offer these tools for self-sufficiency, it’s up to the person to take advantage of them, she said.

“You have to take advantage of it,” she said, “and be the best you can be. I love my job. And I love my employer. I believe in everything they stand for, and that’s why I care so much about my job. They can do this for you, too. It’s crazy. I know I can go to Tiffany (career coach) with a problem or anything – if she can’t help me directly or Goodwill can’t, she’s going to find a way.”

Jennifer’s story has come full circle – she started as a cashier at Hikes Point, unsure of her future. Now, she gets to guide her employees who may be in the same position, at the same store.

“I’ve been there,” she said. “It does come full circle. I’m able to say, ‘Just put one foot in front of the other and just keep going, doing the next right thing.’ Because like I said, Goodwill gave me my life back.”