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“Opportunity is missed by most people because it’s dressed in overalls and looks like work.”

— Thomas A. Edison

Some people need many second chances in life. Ticaric, or “Bear” as he is known to friends and co-workers, needed only one.

Bear grew up in Nashville, where he was nicknamed “Sugar Bear” — after the Super Sugar Crisp mascot — by his grandmother. Like the cereal, Bear was sweet-natured. He was also intelligent, and he dreamed of becoming a professional athlete.

But then Bear got into trouble with the law. Serious trouble. Though it was his first offense, he was locked up for six long years.

“I made a conscious decision once I went to prison that I had to change my life,” he recalls. “I knew I had to change the way I thought about stuff. I realized that life isn’t about making the quick buck, and I appreciate it more if I work for it.”

By the time he got out, in January of 2009, Bear was 34. He had never had a real job, he had no car and he was living in a halfway house. He also had three children who needed his support. Over four months he applied for dozens of jobs, but Bear had been unable to convince any employer that he was a changed man, worthy of an opportunity.

He was frustrated and close to reverting to his old ways. But his mother and family pushed him to stay on the right path. Then, a resident of the halfway house told him about training and employment opportunities at Goodwill.

Bear visited a Goodwill Career Solutions center where he took job readiness classes and quickly landed a job interview. In June of 2009, he was hired to process donations at the Goodwill in Nashville’s Berry Hill community.

“Goodwill helped me out by taking a chance on me and giving me an opportunity that I didn’t get with anybody else, and I appreciate that,” Bear says.

For 18 months, Bear sorted clothing for Goodwill. During that time, he was also sorting out his life. He signed up for forklift classes offered by

Goodwill, and earned his certification. He was then promoted to forklift operator, and he was in that job for more than four years — loading and unloading trucks for Goodwill.

Bear earned a reputation with supervisors as a dependable team-player who was able to master new skills quickly. He found support from people like Salvage Supervisor Reggie Green, who gave him advice on topics ranging from work to parenting.

“I told him Goodwill was not only here to give him a job — we really wanted him to succeed in everything he does,” Green says.

Bear had already come a long way, but he was not willing to rest on his laurels.

“After so long working around trucks, it crossed my mind to want to know how to drive the big rigs,” he said.

Bear began studying on his own time to try to get an “F” endorsement on his driver license. After earning that endorsement, he was transferred to Goodwill’s transportation department and he began driving box trucks full of goods from Goodwill’s Donation Express Centers to its stores.

He continued studying on his own and in January of 2017 took a test seeking his full commercial drivers’ license. He failed the test and initially got discouraged. But having tasted life as a professional driver, Bear knew it was what he wanted. He eventually decided to attend truck driving school. He earned his CDL license in October of 2017 and now drives tractor-trailer rigs for Goodwill.

“I love the life I have now,” he explains. “I have more structure in my life since having a job, and it has helped me interact with different people. The money helps, too. I don’t have to worry about all the stuff I used to worry about.”

Bear now advises others to take advantage of the resources and training available at Goodwill.

“Goodwill will give almost anybody an opportunity — it’s just what you do with it,” he says. “I came from some hard stuff, and I’m completely different from what I used to be. If I can do it, anybody can do it.”


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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.