04 Oct Picking Up the Pieces: Lexington Mom Rebuilds Her Life with Goodwill
When she phoned her pastor’s wife, Katrina Newlin was at the end of her rope.
Through tears, she explained that the father of her two children had been mentally abusive for years, and now he was taking methamphetamine. She was filing for divorce, but she had no idea how she and her kids — Aaron, 12, and KaSandra, 11 — would get by.
Her husband’s salary as a truck driver had been their sole source of income. Katrina had once been a legal secretary, but at this point she hadn’t worked outside the home in 20 years.
“I was afraid no one would hire me,” Katrina explains. “I asked her, ‘Is there any way you can possibly find me a job?’”
Fortunately, the woman on the end of the line — known at Katrina’s church as “Sister Chris” — was well-positioned to help. When she isn’t tending to the needs of the congregation at Lighthouse Apostolic Church, Christine McCrury works as a Career Coach for Goodwill Career Solutions in Jackson.
She told Katrina she would call her back. Within minutes, the phone rang, and Christine said, “Are you ready? You have a job interview tomorrow.”
Katrina began crying again — this time with relief.
The available position was at the Goodwill retail store in Lexington. Even though it was an entry-level, part-time job as a donations sorter, Katrina was nervous. It would be her first job interview in more than two decades.
When she walked in the door of Goodwill the next day, Katrina was relieved to find that she already knew the woman who would be interviewing her — store manager Kelly Tinin. They had attended high school together. That familiarity, combined with Kelly’s easy-going manner, helped Katrina overcome her fears. She got the job.
“When I hired Katrina, she didn’t have a lot of self-confidence,” Kelly recalls. “But she was a hard worker, and anything I needed done she was willing to learn.”
Recognizing Katrina’s potential, Kelly quickly made her full-time. Then, she recommended Katrina for Goodwill’s Progression Achievement (GPA) program — a voluntary, accelerated training program for retail employees. Katrina excelled, moving quickly through the training levels and earning associated pay increases faster than any other participant.
As of September 2023, Katrina had been employed for a year and had learned the skills required for almost every position in the store. She now regularly helps to train new employees and is a leading candidate for a promotion. Kelly sees management potential in her.
Katrina enjoys her work because of the closeness and camaraderie with her co-workers. But there have been other benefits.
“This job has helped me to mend a lot of issues I had,” she says, noting that her health had declined because of years of depression and anxiety. “Coming here has made me stronger mentally. I feel 100% better about myself, and I proved to myself and the kids that we can get better.”
Katrina now has full custody of her children and pays all of the family’s bills. Access to medical care through Goodwill’s benefits package has been extremely helpful, she says.
The family happily shares their Lexington residence with cats, dogs, rabbits and a turtle named Thomas. They enjoy picnics and activities at church, where Katrina leads Sunday school and they often see “Sister Chris.”
Christine marvels at their rapid progress:
“When Katrina came to us a year ago, she was broken. With Goodwill’s help, she has been able to pick up a piece at a time and build a more normal life for herself and her children. It’s truly inspiring.”