Success-Page-Saying_Ernest
“It’s all about people, and I enjoy myself some people,” he said. “When you help a person out and give them that smile, they want to smile, too.

Ernest served in the U.S. Army for more than 18 years, and though he left it in 1990, traces of military bearing linger behind his ever-present smile.

Consider how he checks off the duties of his job as a Donations Express Center lead attendant for Goodwill, as if inspecting troops.

“My job is to go around making sure my DEC attendants are treating customers properly, doing the job properly, sorting everything like it should be, wearing the proper uniform, wearing gloves and keeping up with safety,” he explained. “Safety is my biggest thing — safety and people.”

But Ernest’s life has not always been so tidy. His military career ended unexpectedly because of a reduction in forces. He received some disability benefits due to on-duty injuries, but it wasn’t enough to get by. After the military, Ernest worked for himself as an auto mechanic, first in Alabama, then in Connecticut.

In 2003, he sold his tools and moved to Clarksville, Tenn., hoping to make a new start.

The local Veterans Administration offered Ernest the chance to enter Goodwill’s Transitional Employment Services Program. There, he received job readiness training and was introduced to the retail business at Clarksville’s Goodwill store. He was eventually offered a part-time job as a processor. After eight years at Goodwill, he applied for his current, full-time position.

Ernest thrived in the job, which takes him across north central Tennessee and allows him to exercise the leadership skills he honed in the military.

“It’s all about people, and I enjoy myself some people,” he said. “When you help a person out and give them that smile, they want to smile, too.

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