16 Nov Goodwill Training Helps Nashville Man Find His Calling
For LeRicko Scruggs, spina bifida’s worst effects were invisible.
The birth defect, which curved his spine and paralyzed his feet, meant he would spend his life in a wheelchair. But LeRicko’s mother was determined that he would learn to live independently, and she enrolled him as a child in a program called A.B.L.E. Youth. The program helped LeRicko learn to clean up after himself, swim, play basketball and become more independent.
Adults were frequently impressed by LeRicko’s abilities and charmed by his smile and personality. At age 5, he was hired as a model in a catalog for a national jewelry store chain. The experience ignited a lifelong interest in modeling and acting, and LeRicko would later participate in several runway fashion shows as well as film and TV productions.
But for all LeRicko’s apparent success, his physical condition had hidden emotional impacts that became more pronounced in high school.
“I was often the only one in a wheelchair in my classes, and that was really isolating,” he recalls. “I had a hard time making friends.”
He had other emotional challenges as well, including never having known his father. After graduating from high school in 2007, LeRicko began using drugs. Within a few years, he was addicted.
“My addiction stemmed from me feeling alone and not being understood — not having many people I could confide in,” he explains. “I was mad at the world.”
LeRicko did not work. He stopped pursuing modeling or acting opportunities. And despite receiving a disability check from the government, he relied on family members for other support — which strained those relationships.
LeRicko knew he had reached a breaking point.
In early 2022, he checked into Samaritan Recovery Community in Nashville for a 28-day addiction treatment program. After completing the program, he moved to Welcome Home Ministries, a faith-based recovery housing operator. There, he was referred to Goodwill for skills training and help finding employment.
LeRicko enrolled in Goodwill’s four-week Call Center training program. The free program provides entry-level workers with the knowledge and experience needed to professionally manage incoming phone calls and succeed in a customer service environment.
“I like to talk — I’m a people person, and I like to help people out and stuff like that. So, I thought it would be right up my alley to work in a call center,” LeRicko says.
LeRicko worked hard and quickly established himself as a top performer in Goodwill’s Call Center.
“Whether he’s providing information for a shopper or donor or connecting a client to one of our many career services, LeRicko brings professionalism, efficiency and enthusiasm to everything he does,” says Jamie Dowling, Goodwill’s manager of Training Programs and Client Information Systems.
LeRicko’s dedication in the program was rewarded: Goodwill decided to hire him as a permanent team member in its Call Center.
LeRicko loves the work and is excited to be launching a career. He also has plans to become more independent by purchasing a car and finding his own place to live.
“I’ve never really had a job, so I’m looking forward to getting into the workforce,” he says. “It’s given me a newfound hope — to be productive and lead a better life.”
Goodwill partners with numerous community organizations to help people such as LeRicko Scruggs overcome barriers to employment. Welcome Home Ministries — which referred LeRicko to Goodwill for job training — received Goodwill’s 2022 Mission Partner of the Year award.