Linda had been unemployed for two years, but the only reason she attended a Goodwill Career Solutions job fair was to help her sister complete an online application.
“I was thinking, ‘Who would want me?’” she recalls. “I felt useless.”
Linda’s confidence hadn’t always been so low. The Nashville resident had worked as a data-entry professional for 27 years, first at a bank and later at a hospital. But then she suffered a shoulder injury that required two surgeries and left her unable to type quickly or easily access and carry files.
The hospital let her go. Unfortunately, it wasn’t the only chapter of her life that was ending. During the same period, Linda’s 25-year marriage crumbled. The one-two-punch of major life changes left her deeply depressed.
And so she was surprised to find herself talking to a career counselor during that April 2013 job fair at the Goodwill Career Solutions center on Berry Road in Nashville. The counselor explained that Goodwill offered training and opportunities to help people like Linda find their way back into the workforce.
Linda came back to Goodwill for a one-on-one meeting with a job coach who also helped her sharpen her job search skills. And then in January of 2014, to Linda’s surprise, Goodwill offered her a job as a receptionist in its Loss Prevention department.
Her supervisor, security guard supervisor Michael Stackins, was patient with Linda as she learned her new job duties. He encouraged her to practice working on the computer as well, and she found she was able to do more than she expected. Soon, she was typing up reports and handling important projects.
“Linda is a very determined person,” Stackins says. “She is reliable, and she learns new tasks easily. She is able and willing to help wherever she is needed, and her confidence level has changed tremendously.”
In June of 2015, Linda was offered a promotion to production administrative assistant. She is now responsible for data entry for all of Goodwill’s donation processing in downtown Nashville. She participates in employee recruiting efforts and interviews and helps present safety classes to employees, sometimes standing up in front of groups to talk.
“This job has given me the opportunity to do things I never thought I’d do,” she says.
Linda says the best thing about her job is feeling needed and working on a team where everyone is treated with respect and compassion. Tears come to her eyes when she recalls how far she has come from those days when she had no income and no emotional support at home.
“Goodwill gave me back my dignity,” she says. “I had lost hope, and they gave it all back, plus some.”
Grace: Grace had been unemployed for over a decade…
READ HER STORY
Paul: When the housing market went south, so did I,” he explained. READ HIS STORY
Andy: Once, Andy had been married, with a son, a good job and a home. READ HIS STORY
Mercedes: Mercedes had never held a job before. When she came to Goodwill. READ HER STORY
— By Chris Fletcher
Prior to joining Goodwill as its PR & Communications Manager in 2014, Fletcher was a professional journalist for
more than 25 years working at media outlets in three states, including the Associated Press.