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David B. Lifsey Scholarship Winner Escapes Cycle of Incarceration With Help From Goodwill

Jessica Lentz grew up in Shelbyville. As a little girl, Jessica idolized her father, who worked as a surveyor. She would follow him around, carrying his hammer, stakes, pins and other tools, and dreaming of growing up to have a job like his. Jessica had an artistic streak, which was nurtured by her grandmother, whom she called “ninny.” In many ways, it was an idyllic childhood in the country. But in her teen years, Jessica’s life began to get complicated.

There was a traumatic event. Marriages. Divorces. Problems with drugs and multiple run-ins with the law. Jessica’s relationships — even those with her loving family — were strained over the next two decades. At last a time came when Jessica, now a 40-year-old mother of two, was ready to commit to making a change. And that’s when she found Goodwill.

Tennessee Prison Outreach referred Jessica to Goodwill Career Solutions where she enrolled in the Construction and Weatherization Program. During the four-week course, Jessica learned how to use pneumatic tools, table saws, and routing machines, which would help her land a job at a Nashville cabinet-making company. She also discovered she had a hidden talent for welding when she took Goodwill’s Introduction to Welding course. Jessica will enroll in the Tennessee College of Applied Technology’s welding program in the Spring. She has also achieved numerous other goals, including getting a promotion at her current job, getting a license and getting an apartment.

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