Shannon Haynes didn’t know what to expect when she started working at Goodwill in Hopkinsville on Dec. 9, 2019.
To that point, she had a long history of addiction. The Wickliffe, Kentucky native relocated to Hoptown in 2015 at age 35 to admit herself into a long-term substance abuse facility. She moved out under her own power, but that freedom was short-lived.
Addiction took control again. Incarceration followed in February of 2019. She spent 111 days behind bars in Christian County. Her uphill battle had steepened. Her first step to self-sufficiency was a faith-based transitional home.
Then she found Goodwill. Given her history, reliable employment had eluded her before applying for a production clerk position on Indeed. Doors hadn’t opened for Shannon, but when she spoke with a recruiter at Goodwill, they “flew wide open.”
“I could just tell his heart and his passion over the phone,” Shannon said. “He made a comment that has stuck with me, and that I’ve actually passed on to other people, when he said, ‘Here at Goodwill, we’re not looking for proven people, we’re looking for people that have something they would like to prove.’”
At that point, she knew Goodwill was more than just another job. An interview was set with the Hopkinsville manager, Melissa, for the next day, and since then, “every door has flown off the hinges.” On her first day, Career Coach Margie Silva was able to obtain clothing vouchers for Shannon, who had few resources after being out of work for more than a year, to purchase proper attire for the job.
She was then introduced by Margie to the many career services programs Goodwill offers, which aim to help individuals with disadvantages like Shannon become self-sufficient.
“She was a ray of sunshine from the minute that I met her,” Margie said. “When I started meeting with her regularly and telling her about all the programs in detail, Shannon – she epitomizes what we do here at Goodwill. I wanted her to take advantage of all the different things that we had to offer. … So we just started knocking things out of the park, and she of course had the drive and the determination to want to be able to do that.”
One opportunity that jumped out at Shannon on her first day was the Goodwill Cars to Work program, which helps provide secured auto loans to individuals with no or low credit scores in an effort to promote financial flexibility.
“Miss Melissa asked me what I knew about Goodwill, and unfortunately, I couldn’t answer,” Shannon said. “She began to tell me about the programs – the expungement clinics, the resume-building workshops, and she mentioned the Cars to Work program and other programs that we do to help people who’ve been in crisis, which was the perfect fit for me. … I was almost a perfect candidate to come and work here, and I didn’t actually know that. That wasn’t the reason behind it, but it was such a blessing in itself to find out all those programs were available and what Goodwill stands for.
“I’m still amazed. It’s not what I’ve been used to, and to tell you the truth, I didn’t think I’d ever get the opportunity I have here at Goodwill.”
She began preparing to apply for the Cars to Work program that same day, and despite the obstacles created by the COVID-19 pandemic, she has reaped the benefits. She had met all the prerequisites for the program, which include three months of paychecks, the necessary amount of savings and completion of required budgeting sessions, prior to Goodwill’s temporary store closures and subsequent furloughs. She received the call to return to work, and she had the keys to her new car just four days later.
She was placed in a 2006 Chevrolet HHR – bright red – on May 15. Shannon said Margie helped her start the process, but another career coach, Latoya Watkins, is who helped her finish it. Latoya was hired just prior to the pandemic, and she kept in close contact with Shannon while she was furloughed.
“It made a huge difference, especially with the little bit of anxiety,” Shannon said. “But she still reached out and was explaining things to me. Everything that she could find out, she would let us know. The knowing makes you feel better.”
There has been no stopping Shannon, now a cashier, since she arrived at Goodwill, Margie said. She wants to follow in the footsteps of Margie and Latoya – and she’s already working toward that goal. She passed on information about Goodwill to the 15 other women in her transitional home and even recruited one to work full-time at the Hoptown location.
“(Margie and Latoya) are mentors, of course, both of them,” Shannon said. “They have something in life, a zest and a love for their work – they love their job and it shows. They love to help us, and that’s something that I want as well. I really look up to them both.”
Shannon looks forward to relocating to Paducah to be with her sons, Brice, 20, and Jordan, 17, after moving out of the transitional home. She’s already met with the manager at the Paducah location regarding a possible transfer, and Margie is helping her coordinate housing options.
“Goodwill,” Shannon said. “How good it is.”
The Cars to Work program is currently accepting applications! For more information or to apply online, visit goodwillkycarstowork.org.