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Goodwill, The Power of Work

Different Lives, Similar Paths: The Power of Work Offers Hope

The path that brought Amgad to Goodwill Industries of Middle Tennessee began in Egypt, but in many ways it was similar to those taken by thousands of other people who get help from Goodwill each year.

Struggling to find a job, he walked through the doors of a Goodwill Career Solutions center, and there he found training and opportunities that changed his life.

“Goodwill gave me a good push,” Amgad said. “They opened the door for me to have a good start.”

Amgad emigrated from Egypt with his pregnant wife and three children in 2013, seeking a new life in America. Despite having a degree in Egyptology, he found the language barrier made his job search difficult. In June of 2013 he made an impulse decision to visit a Goodwill Career Solutions center in Nashville.

At the center, he received training in digital literacy, help with his resume and guidance in searching for jobs online. He quickly landed two jobs and later was able to move into a single position in maintenance at  St. Cecilia Motherhouse, a Catholic institution in Nashville. As of April he had been working in that job for  nine months.

“I’m very, very happy here,” he said. “It’s not easy to find a way and a life, but when you find it, you will be very grateful.”

Grace had been out of work much longer than Amgad when she came to Goodwill. In fact, she had not held a job in more than a decade.

“It had been a struggle to try and live life and care for my children without a job,” she said. “I had a   lot of depression.”

She said it particularly troubled her that her mother had to help take care of her children.

One day in 2011, on a whim she stopped in at Goodwill Career Solutions. She signed up for job readiness classes and met one-on-one with a counselor. A week later she was offered a job as a production associate in one of Goodwill’s downtown Nashville warehouses.

“From that day, I began to take back control of my life and also gained self-respect and dignity,” she recalled.

Even though Grace had previously suffered a stroke that limited use of her left side, she routinely out-produced most other employees in her department. She now audits the sorting of garments.

“This job has put a whole different light on my life,” Grace said, adding “I’m able to pay my bills, help do things for my grandchildren and just live a comfortable and decent life.”

Terrell, an employee in Goodwill’s call center, also knows how a disability can increase the challenges of finding work. He was 29 and had never held a job when he first came to Goodwill Career Solutions in 2014.

Terrell was born blind. His parents were the first to suggest he look for employment help from Goodwill.

“I didn’t really know if Goodwill could help me find a job, but I signed up for it and it has been great,” Terrell said.

Terrell completed job readiness and job search classes. His career counselor recognized skills that might make Terrell valuable in Goodwill’s call center. After six weeks of intense training, he became the first visually impaired client to work in that department.

He helped Goodwill adapt new software for the purpose. While talking to callers, Terrell scrolls through over 900 pages of information on his computer that are read aloud to him through his headset. He is able to quickly help callers, whether they want to talk to one of Goodwill’s 2,100 employees or are asking about Goodwill Career Solutions training, the location of a Donation Express Center or the hours of a    Goodwill store.

“I was very excited to be productive and working,” Terrell said. “The best part is knowing that I’m helping people and knowing that people I help enroll into Career Solutions … will be able to get jobs as well.”

For Grace, Terrell and thousands of others, Goodwill provides more than just training or even a job. It provides hope for a better future. Amgad is also a great example of this. When they are not working, Amgad and his wife study English at Nashville Tech. They plan to buy a house in November for themselves and their children — of whom there are now four.

“My goal is to have a good education, get the kids in a good school and then find the ideal job,” he said. “Goodwill gave me a start.”

For more in-depth information on how Goodwill is impacting not only the lives of individuals, but also our communities and the environment, read our 2014 Annual Report.

About Goodwill Industries of Middle Tennessee, Inc.

For more than 55 years Goodwill Industries of Middle Tennessee has provided job training and job placement free of charge to people with disabilities or other barriers to employment through the sale of donated items. In 2014, Goodwill served 28,159 people in Middle and West Tennessee and placed 9.558 people in jobs. More information about Goodwill’s Career Solutions, retail stores and donation centers can be obtained online at  www.giveit2goodwill.org or by calling 1-800-545-9231

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