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She is the lifeblood of the store, Zimmerman said. Whenever we get down and out from the pressures of the job, she makes it better for everybody.

Mercedes wanted to help her mother pay their bills. She also wanted to make some new friends.

But Mercedes had never held a job before. When she came to Goodwill Career Solutions in 2010, she received training in appropriate work behaviors and skills. Three months later, she was hired as a part-time processor in the Goodwill store on Hillsboro Road in Franklin.

Mercedes was assigned a job coach to give her some extra guidance through Goodwill’s Transitional Employment Services Program.

“I always … do my best job and help my boss-man and boss-lady,” she explained.

Her “boss-man,” store manager Brian Zimmerman, said Mercedes brings joy to her co-workers every day with her sunny disposition.

She loves teasing with them and snickers when she calls Zimmerman by his nickname, “Papa Smurf.” 

Her ever-present smile and infectious laughter make her a favorite of customers as well.

“She is the lifeblood of the store,” Zimmerman said. “Whenever we get down and out from the pressures of the job, she makes it better for everybody.”

These days Mercedes rides the trolley independently to get to and from work, making friends along the way. She helps her mother with expenses around the house and still has enough money to go to the movies whenever she wants.

“It’s great working here with other people,” she said. “Because of Goodwill, I have friends.”

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