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Keep on Truckin’: At Goodwill, Young Man Makes a U-Turn on Troubled Life

As a young boy, Devon dreamed of one day becoming a police officer, but by his late teenage years, he was spending much of his time dodging police.

Devon’s mother died when he was 17. Forced to live on his own, he fell into a life of drugs and guns. He got caught again and again, and the last time he spent a full year behind bars. He signed up for tough work details on garbage trucks to escape the tedium of jail.

“I was working hard every day on those trucks for bologna sandwiches and peanut butter sandwiches when I could have been doing the same thing and getting paid $7.25 an hour,” he said. “After I got out, I told myself I was going to do whatever it took not to get back into trouble.”

When he was released in 2009, a friend told Devon that Goodwill could help people with criminal pasts find work. Devon signed up for job readiness classes at Goodwill Career Solutions in downtown Nashville, and eventually he was offered a job  at Goodwill, unloading trucks filled with donations.

It was the start of a remarkable, nine-year ascent for the once-troubled young man. Devon’s supervisors recognized his strong work ethic and leadership potential, and he rose through the ranks as a forklift driver then lead forklift operator, then dock supervisor.

But Devon had other ambitions. He told Goodwill Senior Director of Operations Mike Eisenbraun and other supervisors he wanted to be a truck driver. They encouraged him, and he began studying to upgrade his driver’s license so he could drive small trucks for Goodwill. Still not satisfied, Devon began studying for a full commercial driver’s license. He received it in March.

“Devon called me and said, ‘Guess what, Big Mike, I got my Class A license!’” Eisenbraun recalled. “He was just so thrilled. He’s driving tractor-trailers for us now, and he’s in hog heaven.”

Devon he says he is amazed at how far he has come.

“I didn’t ever think I would be where I’m at, doing what I am doing,” he said, adding “ I don’t think any other company would have given me chances like Goodwill has.”

Devon loves the life of a truck driver — managing his own schedule and enjoying all the scenery that rolls past his windshield.

Sometimes, when he is driving, he thinks about the little kid who wanted to grow up to be a policeman. He remembers how, when a truck would pass by, he and his friends would pump their arms up and down to signal the driver to honk his horn.

“Now, I’m driving down the street and little kids are doing that to me,” he says.

For more stories like this read the Summer 2016 edition of The Ambassador – Goodwill’s quarterly magazine which provides readers with stories of events, activities and the inspiring changes Goodwill is making in the lives of others.

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