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I attended church every Sunday, but with the charges I had, no one would hire me,” he said. I went everywhere but no luck.

After nine months behind bars, Jerry walked out of jail and into a world almost as cold and hostile as the one he had left.

He was homeless and unemployed for a year. He finally entered a church seeking help. From there, Jerry was taken to a halfway house in Baxter, where he tried to get back on his feet.
“I attended church every Sunday, but with the charges I had, no one would hire me,” he said.

“I went everywhere but no luck.”

The turning point came in December of 2011, when the halfway house referred Jerry to Goodwill Career Solutions in Cookeville. There he got training in job readiness skills, forklift operation and more. He was ultimately offered a job working in the nearby Goodwill store.

“It just clicked for me and I’ve been there ever since,” he said.

Jerry has worked in several capacities, from accepting donations to running the cash register.
“It’s a challenge every day there, believe me, but it’s fun,” he said. “The people I work with are good people, and we have a good time.”

Stable employment has lifted Jerry’s outlook. “I’m no longer homeless, and I have a great place to live thanks to what I earn at Goodwill,” he said. But the chance to feel useful again has been just as important.

“(When) I worked my way up to register — at that point I realized that I was making a difference in others’ lives,” he said. “I love to go to work every day and see all the smiling customers.”

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