07 Jul I Change Lives: Rebecca Joy Tarango
Rebecca Joy Tarango manages Goodwill’s Good Life Program, which helps connect employees and Career Solutions clients in need to community resources such as affordable housing, transportation and bill assistance. She also leads the Summer Youth Job Readiness program, which prepares youth for their first jobs through mock interviews, resume-building, community service projects and career exploration.
Rebecca grew up in El Paso, Texas, the youngest of six siblings. Rebecca frequently volunteered at nonprofits as a youth. As Rebecca got older, her mother began looking for work outside the home. But her mother lacked a college degree and struggled to find a good job. Those experiences, and a strong desire to help people, led Rebecca to come to Nashville where she studied Social Entrepreneurship at Belmont University. She learned how social problems could be solved through business, and while still a student, she served as an intern for Goodwill’s Summer Youth Job Readiness Program. After her graduation, she was hired by Goodwill to manage that program as well as the Good Life program. This August will mark her one-year anniversary with Goodwill.
What brought you to Goodwill? Goodwill’s CEO Matthew Bourlakas came and spoke to my college class. I was amazed at the different services offered by Goodwill. I knew Goodwill was changing lives for the better, and I wanted to be a part of it.
What are some of the challenges you face? There are so many needs in our community and not always enough resources. Some needs take longer to meet than others, which is tough, especially when it means waiting on important things like housing.
What has surprised you most in your time with Goodwill? We have so many employees who truly care about the well-being and success of our employees and Goodwill Career Solutions clients. It’s great to see so many people who are willing to help and go beyond what is expected for the sake of others.
What do you enjoy most about your job? The people I get to see and serve every day. We have so many wonderful employees working here, and I enjoy the opportunity to work alongside them while also providing them with tools to meet their needs. I also really enjoy connecting with other community partners and resources that may be able assist and meet more needs.
Why is your job important to Goodwill’s mission? Goodwill’s mission is to change lives through education, training and employment. My work consists of educating people on new information including the different resources and opportunities available to them. By providing them the tools needed to connect to these resources, they can better pursue, focus on, and ultimately keep their jobs.
Give us an example of someone the Good Life Program has helped: One new employee was living in a homeless shelter as she went through orientation. She had come from out of state, didn’t know anyone and had some medical issues. She didn’t even have any clothes suitable for work. We helped her find clothing first, then we decided the best course to help her find housing. We met weekly until she reached her goal. It was so great to see how excited she was when she finally got a room in a boarding house — a place of her own that she could pay for with her own money.
How do you change lives? I change lives beyond employment as I assist employees and clients with meeting the essential needs required to live a good life. With connections to resources such as housing, food or bill assistance, they can focus on their jobs or job search and not have to carry extra burdens.