Story Behind the Stores: Once a danger to society, Mike is “on course to be successful” thanks to Goodwill

Mike grew up a product of divorce and addiction. Before he was 24 years old, both of his parents and his two brothers had passed away.

An addict himself, Mike lost his only other support system when his wife filed for divorce after 25 years of him relapsing. The divorce also tore him apart from his children.

“That put me in a spiral I had never experienced before,” he said.

Mike then pleaded guilty to a felony robbery charge and was sentenced to seven years in prison. That’s when he was introduced to Goodwill. Members of our reentry team visited the Roederer Correctional Complex in La Grange as part of our GoodStart program. He was one of 30 inmates to take part.

“I knew when I got out, I was going to have to do something different,” he said. “So, I held on to that business card.”

Mike was slated to be released on parole. But it was denied. He was locked up for two more years and ended up doing 42 months of his sentence.

“I carried those cards with me through prison transfers, bed moves, reassignments,” he said.

Mike was released in April of this year and called Training Facilitator Tom Saylor two weeks later. It wasn’t long after that he moved from Richmond to Louisville.

“I took a serious leap of faith in them,” he said. “I showed up in the parking lot down there at Broadway. I didn’t know where I was going to live. My Jeep was packed with everything from birth certificates to high school diplomas.”

The move turned out to be well worth it. Mike obtained housing through our reentry services and completed our Reintegrating Individuals Successfully Every Day (RISE) program before working with his career coach on career options. Mike had 27 years of electrician experience under his belt dating back to when he enlisted in the Army at age 17. However, he lost his Master Electrician License after his prison sentence.

So, he took a job at our Hurstbourne store making $11 an hour while he saved up for the $400 reinstatement fee. Also in the meantime, he was able to address his mental health. As a result of his hardships early on in his life, he suffered from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

“I felt like I owed it to my mom, my dad, my brothers,” he said. “I’ve lived in a constant state of sorrow. It destroyed my marriage and my life, basically.”

Using the resume he built through our GoodStart program, Mike applied for jobs daily with his career coach at the Hurstbourne store in Louisville and was eventually hired as a project manager at Synergy Electric.

Just five months after being released from prison, Mike accepted an offer for a position making $28 per hour and he’s working more than 40 hours per week. He’s able to split bills for his two children, both college students. He said the financial coaching offered by us through Apprisen has done wonders for his saving.

“I knew this wasn’t going to be easy,” he said. “I think the biggest thing was I humbled myself and I worked on me. … I was doing the right thing and rewarded for it.”

Something that sticks with Mike is a judge calling him a danger to society. But now, as of this writing, he has been downgraded to “low risk to reoffend” by his probation officer and is a contributing member of society.

“Without Goodwill, this would be a completely different story,” he said. “They made me a promise, I bought into it and they followed through. I used to be a hater of Goodwill. … I had no clue what I was getting into. It was a world of opportunities that set my life on course to be successful.”