“And in the end, the love you take is equal to the love you make.” — The Beatles
Aleshia started abusing drugs and alcohol when she was 14.
As a child, she received very little guidance or attention from her mother. So, she began seeing a man — a drug dealer twice her age. Soon, Aleshia had a drug habit and numerous other problems.
“It was just terrible, the life I was living,” she recalls. “It was real rough out there.”
In 1986, Aleshia gave birth to a son. She tried to get clean for his sake — to take care of her responsibilities. She failed.
“Life was a struggle even more when I lost my son because of my actions,” she recalls.
In 1996, Aleshia had a daughter — “My princess,” she says. But still Aleshia struggled. She would make many more failed attempts at sobriety. Finally, in 2010, she hit rock bottom.
She was relying on her niece for a place to live — a situation she hated. And then, Aleshia’s daughter suffered a loss that forced Aleshia to reckon with her own failures as a mother.
“My daughter’s grandmother died on Sept. 11. She was part of my daughter’s life — the part I wasn’t doing, the part her dad couldn’t do because he’s a man,” Aleshia explained. “He called me, and he was like, we need you now.”
A few days later, Aleshia entered drug treatment for the last time.
While at Mending Hearts, a recovery-oriented therapeutic community, she began looking for a job. Her first stop was Goodwill Career Solutions in downtown Nashville, where she received assistance with online job search and filling out applications, connections with employers, and more.
Soon, she got a job processing donations in one of Goodwill’s downtown warehouses.
On her first day, she got a tour of the facility and ran into an old friend who worked there. It was a good omen.
Aleshia’s ever-present smile, hearty laugh and infectious personality soon made her a favorite with other team members. Her co-workers supported her in her recovery from addiction, and, maybe more importantly — they looked to her for advice and support with their troubles.
“I felt needed and comfortable with myself, and I felt good at something other than drugs,” Aleshia recalls. “When I found Goodwill, it just changed a lot for me. It made me feel like I was more — like I deserved more.”
Today, Aleshia works as a retail associate in Goodwill’s Bellevue store, and she loves helping customers.
“Every day she comes through the door with a smile on her face, telling everyone, “Good morning. How are you doing? Are you ready for a good day?” assistant store manager Robbie Heshmati says. “Customers smile back at her and have a great time talking to her. How could you not?”
Aleshia says her experiences have shaped her approach to people.
“Life is short, and you never know what people go through,” she said. “If you come at them with a smile, sometimes it helps.”
Aleshia’s daughter recently had a baby boy, and Aleshia is now very involved in both of their lives. She spends most of her free time doing “mom stuff.” She cries when she talks about their relationship.
“It’s a happy cry,” she explains. “I’m so happy. I’ve learned responsibilities and hanging on — keeping that faith that it’s going to be all right. And Goodwill was so much a part of that. Goodwill has shown me you can do whatever your heart and mind desires.”
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— By Chris Fletcher
Prior to joining Goodwill as its PR & Communications Manager in 2014, Fletcher was a professional journalist for
more than 25 years working at media outlets in three states, including the Associated Press.