Goodwill Success Story Cynthia – Making the Most of Her Second Chance

We want to introduce you to Cynthia, who graduated from Goodwill’s Second Chance Program.  One simple promise that she kept changed her life.

Here is Cynthia’s success story, in her own words:

Cynthia, a Goodwill Success Story

“I had a good childhood; some may even say I was spoiled.

As a teenager I started to rebel against my parents and would sneak out to experiment with alcohol. I started to spin downward and at age 15 I was expelled from school due to a chain of events from fighting to skipping school. After having 2 babies very young and years being in an abusive relationship, I found myself addicted to prescription drugs. It got to the point that I didn’t know who I was anymore. I hit rock bottom and was eventually arrested.

I had nowhere to go and had burnt all of my bridges with my family and friends.

On July 7, 2015, I made the first promise that I would keep in years. I told my mother I would get help. I went to a halfway house and was referred to Goodwill. When I started, I didn’t like myself and had no self-respect. I stayed at Goodwill until I had to face my past and was sentenced to prison.

While there, I entered a program called GRIP (Guiding Rage Into Power) and I did everything I could to work on myself with counselors. I was tired of running; and we dealt with issues from my past.

When I was released, I came to Goodwill to start fresh and begin a new journey.

Goodwill gave me opportunities and helped me make the right decisions.  Through the Second Chance Program, I learned how to make sure I got to work on time and to manage my personal life so that it didn’t interfere with my job.  They also taught me how to budget my money.  I came to Goodwill to start fresh and begin a new journey.  I was tired of running and needed to deal with the issues of my past.

Today I can stand before everyone and say that I love myself.”

Cynthia, we are so proud of you and admire your hard work!  

Congratulations on your success!

Goodwill Success Story – Scott found employment with Lowe’s!

We would like to introduce you to Scott.
He is another one of our many Goodwill Success Stories. 

Scott came to the Goodwill Community Career Center for a job fair in October, 2014. Initially, Scott used the Career Center’s computer lab to search for jobs online. He was struggling to get an interview, and asked the career counselor for help. After some edits and suggestions on format, Scott’s resume was ready to be passed along to potential employers.

Scott attended the Job Club at the Mishawaka Career Center. This group helps, encourages and supports those who are in the process of a job search. Joining this group allows participants to build confidence talking about their skills, wants and needs in a career.

In February of 2015, Scott attended a job fair and was able to get an interview with Lowe’s. He was well prepared for the interview. He spent time practicing interview questions with his career coach and attended workshops that helped him understand proper attire, etiquette and protocol. Scott’s hard work and dedication to finding employment paid off. He was offered a job at Lowe’s.

Today, Scott continues to build his skills and hopes his position as a seasonal-employee becomes permanent. He is living proof that dedication and hard work will pay off. He overcame insecurity and stepped outside of his comfort zone in order to achieve his goals. WAY TO GO SCOTT! We are all so proud of what you have accomplished!

Employment Success!

Meet our Employee of the Month: David

David has been climbing the ladder to success and continues to evaluate himself as he re-directs himself from poor choices made in the past.

David was in the Work Experience Program through Goodwill Industries of Michiana.  When he began the program, he wanted to give up.  After turning 18, he started to utilize the skills he learned from Goodwill.  These skills translated into giving David confidence in interviews and offered a variety of opportunities for full-time employment.

We are proud to say David has been employed for over 90-days at Hoosier Tank & Manufacturing, Inc. His new job has taught him the welding trade and how to operate heavy machinery.

David’s new goals are much different than they were before he was a part of the Goodwill program. Currently he wants to reach out to troubled youth and motivate them to make good choices.  He believes his story will serve as an example of what not to do, and he hopes he can lead them in the right direction.

Goodwill Success Story – Patricia

In August 2013, Patricia was at a job fair at the Career Center when she first heard about the Beyond Jobs program.  Funded by a grant from the Walmart Foundation, Beyond Jobs helps women find and keep good paying jobs. This is accomplished through individualized career and financial planning services. Among the tools provided are:

  • Career assessment and planning
  • Ongoing financial education
  • Family strengthening services
  • Early education and child care assistance
  • Connections to healthy food and nutrition initiatives

When Patricia entered the program, she was motivated to improve herself and get a job.  She was employed for many years, however following the closing of that organization, she found herself in a position she never thought she would be in… seeking a job.  Because of her longstanding employment history, she didn’t know where to start.  She was overwhelmed. 
This motivation propelled her to be very active in the program. Classes were a welcomed activity for Patricia. They gave her hope and some insight into what she needed to do to become employed again. Through the Beyond Jobs Program, she was one of the first participants in the “makeover” event.  She purchased a new interview outfit from Goodwill and had her hair completely re-styled.  Her new look gave Patricia the self-confidence she had been lacking in her job search. 
Patricia developed a portfolio to use in interviews showing examples of her past work and expertise.  She gained interim experience at Goodwill. She wowed the staff and was offered a full time position.
If you’ve had a catered meal from Goodwill chances are you’ve been able to get a taste of Patricia’s talents.  Her homemade cookies and banana nut bread have become famous! 
Patricia’s successes are both in her professional and personal life.  The kindness she shows to others is the hallmark of her true character. She is a great example of a Goodwill Success Story! 

Congratulations Patricia! All of your hard work and determination have paid off!  
We are so proud of you!


Jakelia Taylor is a 23 years old mother of 4. She is the Industrial Services Supervisor at Goodwill Industries of Michiana.

Jakelia got her start with Goodwill through a program called 2nd Chance @ Work.  This program is designed to help people with criminal backgrounds gain career skills with a goal of achieving full-time employment. In Jakelia’s words, “Had it not been for the compassion of the caseworkers and staff running this program I really don’t know where I would be in life right now.”

Through a string of events and bad decisions, Jakelia turned to a life of crime and drug abuse that led to a conviction and criminal record. As part of her conviction Jakelia found herself required to obtain employment to pay for court fees or face jail time. This is when she reached out to the 2nd Chance program. After 12 weeks in the program, she was ready for a work-place experience. This stepping stone of the program offers hands-on experience in a given field.

Jakelia was able to secure a full-time job and many other resources that aided her in her recovery. She explains the next phase of her journey:

I was released from Community Corrections for good behavior. After about 7 months of working I ran into child care problems and I was forced to stop working for about 2 months. I became very discouraged and I figured the odds were against me. I felt there was no way to get ahead in life with a criminal background. During those 2 months I reached out more than ever to different government assistance programs, again I was turned down because of my prior. I began to slip back into my old habits, doing the only thing I knew to make money. As time went on I began to just see life for what it was. I knew if I sat back and did nothing about the situation I was in, no one would help me. So again I began to ask around for help. Finally I was offered child care. I then was able to get back into the program and start where I left off.

She worked hard and was offered a position as the Industrial Services Coordinator at Goodwill Industries of Michiana. She has held this position for over a year.  Her current goals include starting school.  Jakelia sums up her story by saying, “Who would have thought me, a 22 year old ex-felon, could overcome the odds I overcame. This is really just the beginning of my story. I have not closed my book yet and I am ready for a new chapter in life and very thankful for the chapters leading up to this. I want to give Goodwill thanks for the amazing helping hand to not only me, but my family.”

For more information about the 2nd Chance @ Work Program, please click HERE.

Goodwill Success Story – meet Roberto!

A gang lifestyle. Convicted of a crime. Serving time at the Juvenile Justice Center.  High school drop out. Ready to make a change.  This was Roberto’s reality in February, 2014.  

Isaac Hunt of Goodwill Industries of Michiana began working with Roberto.  One of Roberto’s first goals was to achieve his high school diploma by passing the GED test. In April, Robert met his first goal. He is the first member of his family who has received his high school diploma.

Since then, Roberto was released from the Juvenile Justice Center and has enrolled with Goodwill’s  Violence Intervention Program.  In just 3 months, he has completed the required classes: anger management, resume building, financial, and conflict resolution. He is now part of the work experience program and is looking forward to starting college at Ivy Tech in the Fall of 2014. 

His willingness to change through hard work has changed the trajectory of his family for generations to come. Way to go Roberto!  We are very proud of you!

Goodwill Success Story – Joseph Johnson

Goodwill Industries of Michiana’s 2nd Chance @ Work Program provides individuals with barriers to employment with an opportunity to re-purpose their lives.

Those involved in the program include ex-offenders.  These individuals need tools to achieve their employment and life goals. The intense classroom and hands-on training have been helpful to the success of our clients.

Recently a client, Joseph Johnson, received job placement in the community at MTI (Manufacturing Technology Incorporated). His goal upon entry to his present job was to apply his knowledge of welding. Since his start date (over 2 months ago) he has quickly risen from a position of general laborer to machine operator.

Thank you MTI and congratulations, Joseph!

If you would like to help those in our community by donating to Goodwill, visit our Donation Page to make your contribution.

Goodwill Success Story – meet Brent Biddle

Goodwill Industries of Michiana is a place where client successes are celebrated.  It is a place where the notion of turning lemons into lemonade is part of every-day operations. That mantra is exactly what Goodwill client Brent Biddle has done. 
 Brent was unemployed for 4 years after suffering a heart attack. In 2013 he decided it was time to return to work.  Despite significant physical limitations, he was determined to re-enter the work force. He applied to Vocational Rehabilitation and was referred to Goodwill for employment services.
Brent worked closely with the Goodwill staff and his Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor to develop a career goal that met his needs.  He knew he would thrive in a position that allowed him to work with people and accommodate his limitations.  Through career assessment, he determined a position in the customer service field would be perfect for him. 
After meeting weekly with his employment specialist, Brent developed a resume and began his job search.  He applied for a variety of positions in several industries.   During one of his weekly meetings, he learned of a floor supervisor opening at the Goodwill Store in Elkhart. He submitted an application and was interviewed a few days later. 
Brent began working at the Goodwill Store in Elkhart as a floor supervisor.  He has been a valued member of the team at that store for over 6-months. His current career goals include working hard and moving forward within the Goodwill family, perhaps applying for a management position. He is very happy to be working at Goodwill and proud to be a part of the Goodwill mission!