Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and uphold me with a willing spirit.” — Psalm 51:12
Christine has been rescued many times.
When she was a toddler, Christine and her two young siblings were the victims of a terrible neglect case that made headlines. Their alcoholic parents left them without adequate food, clothing or supervision for long intervals over the course of two years.
The children were finally discovered and rescued by police. Their parents were charged by authorities but fled on bail, and the children were sent to an orphanage. Christine and her sister were separated from their older brother but placed with loving foster parents who eventually adopted them.
Christine was raised in the Christian faith, and she considers finding spiritual salvation the second “rescue” of her life. She grew up determined to not only avoid the mistakes of her biological parents but also to make a difference in the world.
“Because I was given an opportunity when I was a child, that has helped me to be able to give other people opportunities,” she explained.
At 17, Christine married her husband Nathan, whom she jokes “rescued me from long years of dating life.” Nathan would become a church pastor, and they lovingly raised four children.
As a pastor’s wife, Christine has nurtured a “servant’s heart.” She teaches a Sunday school class and assists in many other church functions. She taught herself to play the drums and tambourine and now helps provide music during church services.
Christine worked a number of jobs over the years, including stints helping the homeless at drug and alcohol rehabilitation centers. She also volunteered with CASA — court-appointed special advocates for neglected and abused children.
To help pay the bills for her growing family, she also worked at a fast-food restaurant and, later, at a grocery store. But in late 2010, Christine found herself in need of help again. When the grocery store slashed her hours, she struggled to find a second job to make up the lost wages. Then 46, she felt her age and lack of a college degree were holding her back.
A friend suggested she apply for a job at the Goodwill store in Lexington, where she lives. Christine did, and she was hired on as a cashier.
“Goodwill rescued me,” she said.
Christine’s retail experience and her passion for helping others quickly made her an invaluable resource for the store. Soon, despite having a schedule complicated by her many church duties,
she was made full-time and later promoted to lead sales associate.
“Christine does anything and everything for the employees that work here,” her manager, Kelly Tinin said, describing how Christine recently made gift baskets for sale at a benefit to help a co-worker having health problems. “And she’s always telling people how much she enjoys working here and how it’s helped her.”
In 2015, Christine was rescued from lingering questions about her childhood. Christine had tried unsuccessfully for years to locate her older brother Richard, who as an 11-year-old had kept Christine and her sister alive during the years of neglect. Then, Christine got a call from a private investigator who hosted a television program called “Last Hope With Troy Dunn.” The program, which specializes in reuniting lost loved ones, had been contacted by Richard, who was seeking his sisters.
Not only did Christine meet Richard in a tearful reunion, she learned that she had two full brothers as well as two half sisters and a half brother whom she never knew existed.
One final “rescue” for Christine came as the direct result of a Goodwill program.
For several years, getting to work was a severe struggle for Christine. She and her husband shared one vehicle — a van he used not only to get to work at a local factory but to perform daily church activities and assist a local fire and rescue unit. Christine had to wake up at 4:30 a.m. every day to take him to work or else rely on family members or co-workers to drive her to her job at Goodwill. The early hours even caused her some sleep-related ailments.
In 2017, Christine applied to receive a donated vehicle through Goodwill’s Wheels-to-Work program, which helps employees and clients of Goodwill Industries of Middle Tennessee who need reliable transportation. She completed classes on budgeting, defensive driving and car maintenance and also learned to drive a manual transmission vehicle. In June of that year, she received the keys to an Audi A4 Quattro.
The car opened “new avenues for my life,” Christine said.
Christine has now worked at Goodwill for seven years, loves being part of its mission of changing lives through education, training and employment and says she hopes to retire from the nonprofit organization. She recently taught herself sign language so she could assist hearing-impaired people in her community, and she now interprets training materials and meetings for a deaf co-worker.
“Just as Goodwill helped me, it can help you, too,” she says.
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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.