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James Was Living the Good Life, Lost It All, And Now is Rebuilding Through Goodwill

(Middle Tenn.) — Two days after James got out of jail, his former neighbor met him at a Nashville probation office with all of his possessions stuffed into her car. James took four suitcases, which was all he could carry.

“I don’t know what became of the rest of it,” he said. “She probably donated it to Goodwill.”

At the Nashville Rescue Mission that night, James learned he was still two suitcases over their limit. He gave away half of his remaining belongings on the spot.

It hadn’t always been like this for the Detroit, Mich., native. His family had given him a solid foundation. He got married, moved to Nashville, found a nice apartment, had a baby daughter and worked as a medical assistant.

“I tell a lot of people, on April 6, I had food in the refrigerator, had my feet kicked up watching cable TV, and the next day it was all gone,” he said. “It really happened just like that.”

On April 7, 2011, James’ fortunes took a dramatic downturn. He got arrested for a felony. He was later convicted and spent seven months in jail. While on the inside his wife divorced him, and when he got out, he was homeless.

For six months, James stayed at the mission at night and walked Nashville’s streets during the day, seeking work. Then he learned Goodwill Career Solutions helps people with criminal records find employment. He walked to the downtown Goodwill and enrolled in a paid training program.

“Three months later, I moved into an apartment and started to rebuild my life,” he recalled.

James is now a clothing tagger in Goodwill’s downtown warehouse. He has worked there more than two years, is an exemplary employee and a good influence others. He has a new girlfriend and hopes to re-establish contact with his daughter, who is now 5.

“Goodwill gave me back a sense of normalcy,” he said. “I wasn’t used to homelessness or charity. I just wanted a chance. I’m grateful Goodwill gave me that chance.”

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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