For as long as we all can remember we’ve dreamed about what we would do “when we grew up”. This month’s Goodwill Success Story Spotlight has also been dreaming about this notion since she was a young girl. Her dreams were a little different than most of ours. She didn’t dream about being a nurse, teacher or actress; her dream seemed simple, to make the world a better place. This kind of a dream can lead someone down a very interesting path, as it did for Katie.
As unconventional as Katie’s path was, at 19 she decided to join the military. She left the South side of Chicago, her family and all she knew to be familiar. Her military career took her all over the world, and gave her experiences most only hear about in news reports. After an 8-year career, Katie’s dreams took another jog along her career path. She became an English teacher, and eventually a Disease Intervention Specialist for the state of Indiana.
Although these “jobs” were contributing to her dream of making the world a better place, she was feeling she hadn’t yet found that place where she belongs. Through her pursuits of finding that place she belongs – the proverbial path she was on took a dark turn.
In Katie’s words, “Perhaps my longing for fulfillment made me susceptible to suggestion. I was lost in the dark. I stumbled through the next few years suffering a greater loss with each tumble. I lost my spirit, my independence, my sanity, my family and, ultimately, my freedom.“
After a few short months of meeting a man who was disguised as a knight in shining armor, he convinced Katie her life was meaningless; that her family, children and society would be a better place if she was not a part of it. An unsuccessful suicide attempt took her back to a pseudo-life with this man that eventually ended with Katie outside of herself, looking in and seeing herself as someone with an addiction to meth.
Her addiction led to incarceration and again to questioning her life, her purpose and her dreams. In April of 2014, she was given a referral to Goodwill. She thought it was a referral for a job at a Goodwill store. She was unaware of the many programs Goodwill Industries of Michiana has to offer individuals just like her. Katie entered the 2nd Chance @ Work Program in September of 2014, and began working at the Mishawaka Community Career Center. A few months later, she became a facilitator for the Workforce Development Skills Training Program.
Katie’s Goodwill Case Manager, Omeria, was able to really listen to Katie’s story. She saw in her potential, her heart for wanting to make a difference, and her passion for bettering her life. According to Katie, “Sometimes you have to lose everything to find out what is really important. I feel I am where I belong right now. I am happy, and I have the good-will of Goodwill to thank for helping me get back on track.”