Terry King was released from incarceration on January 14. He was headed back to his hometown of Morehead, Ky. But he wasn’t looking forward to it.
Terry was afraid. He spent 52 months behind bars after originally receiving a 12-year sentence for a drug-related incident. It changed Terry for the better, but he was worried his reputation had been permanently tarnished.
The 58-year-old needed a second chance.
That seemed to elude Terry. He tripped day after day to the unemployment office to apply for jobs while staying at the Oxford House, a self-supporting recovery home for drug and alcohol addiction with locations across the country. Days turned into weeks and months of searching for independence.
“I thought, ‘Nothing’s ever going to work. No one is ever going to give me a chance,’” Terry said.
Then an unemployment office employee mentioned an opening at Goodwill. With faith at the forefront and with help from his counselors at the Oxford House, he made it through the first round of interviewing and was asked to meet the staff at the Morehead store for the second. He received a call that changed his life later that week. It was a job offer.
“You just have no idea how it makes you feel knowing that this place has given you another chance for life – another chance to prove to people in your hometown you got locked up for 52 months and you got back. It’s the reason I give 110 percent every day. It’s just a blessing to be here.
“I got out January 14 and by the first of March, I had a full-time job here. It’s unreal. … I kept talking to my higher power, and He led me to you all.”
Terry said prior to his stint in prison, other Morehead residents dubbed him, “Toby.” But he said as he was released, “Toby” was no more. He strived to prove to people in his hometown he changed – and obtaining employment at Goodwill was the first step.
“In those 52 months, I went in one guy but came out a different guy. … I was so glad to be able to get a job back in my hometown.
“Goodwill really gave me the chance I needed to get restarted – to get started in my new self; get Terry started in a new life. … I’m at the bottom of the ladder, but I’m climbing up. Goodwill has been there and is going to be there for the rest of my life, the way I’m concerned. They gave me a new start. I’m 58 years old – people have helped me, (so) I’m going to help them as much as I can.”
Thanks to Goodwill, Terry went from sleeping on a cot to sleeping in a bed. He has money in his bank account. He can eat what he wants, and he’s able to take his children out to eat, too. A year ago, he said, they could only visit him behind a glass partition.
Terry is also on track to retain his driver’s license as of early August, and he plans to take advantage of the Goodwill Cars to Work program, which offers secured auto loans to individuals with no or low credit after meeting a set of prerequisites. Terry had no idea of the many programs and services Goodwill offers when he was hired for a retail position.
“It’s just a blessing where He’s got me sitting today,” Terry said. “He’s answered so many things I’ve prayed for. The programs that you all offer … there’s so much to look forward to. Where I was at a year ago today, it was just unreal. It brings me to tears every time I talk about it.”
Goodwill’s mission is to provide opportunities for individuals with something to prove, which fit Terry’s profile from the beginning, said current Morehead store manager Jeanna Hance, who was an assistant when Terry was hired.
“He’s just phenomenal. He’s worked so hard to learn everything, and he constantly gives that 110 percent,” Jeanna said. “He stays on the rush from the time we get here until we leave in the afternoon. And he has a great outlook. He’s always upbeat and ready to do anything he can do. I would love to clone him!”
“Toby” is no more. Through his faith and with help from the Oxford House and Goodwill, Terry earned a second chance. And he said he shares with fellow attendants of his weekly Alcoholics Anonymous meetings how he got to this point.
“Don’t give up. There is hope. I kept believing and I did receive. … Don’t go back to your old habits. Just that one night took my freedom away. (Goodwill) gave me another chance at living,” he said.