Altraveon Robinson

Altraveon Robinson

Finding a job can be difficult. Finding a first job can be even more so. Altraveon, who felt held back by his learning disability, was no exception and found the job market difficult to break into.

Because of this he stayed at home, dependent on his mother for money, and had few career aspirations. Then Altraveon came to Goodwill’s Supported Employment program where he was trained how to find a job and taught that his future could look like anything he wanted it to.

Altraveon’s placement specialist found him a job processing goods and clothing at the Goodwill warehouse as his first job. Some of his other duties involve cleaning the warehouse and making sure the products he processes meet the quality standards of Goodwill merchandise.

When asked how Goodwill has changed his life, Altraveon answered, "I’m able to take care of myself now and I can help my mom pay bills. Goodwill has pushed me to go to school so that I can make a better living.”

Altraveon’s future plans are to become an EMT so he can continue to help his family, and he currently attends school three days a week after he gets off work.

Carl Harris

Carl Harris

We’ve all heard the phrase desperate times call for desperate measures, and Carl Harris knows the truth of that statement. He found himself unemployed, frustrated from applying for so many jobs only to hear nothing, and living at the rescue mission.

In order to survive, he sold cigarettes and plasma, but neither option is a very viable career. He turned to Goodwill for help, who taught him how to find a job and helped him apply for jobs he was qualified for.

"Without Goodwill I don’t know where I’d be,” Carl says. "I can’t express how much I appreciate the help from the staff at Goodwill.”

Goodwill helped him find steady work, as a dishwasher and kitchen steward at Romas Italian Bistro, where he gets 40 hours a week and has a chance to start over.

Champagne

Champagne

A few years ago, Champagne would’ve labeled herself as directionless. Her plans for her future were minimal to say the least and didn’t have anyone to tell her where to start. The kicker is, once Champagne turned 18, she would lose any support she was getting from the foster care system and would be legally and officially on her own.

Before that day though, Champagne got involved with the Independent Living Program, which helps youth prepare to age out of foster care. She began attending classes and starting making plans for her future, working one on one with a trainer to help her find what she liked to do and give her ideas of practical career fields that fit those lines.

Of course, things rarely work out exactly as you planned, and problems inevitably came up. But Champagne’s support system came through and her Goodwill trainer helped her develop a plan b, and slowly but surely Goodwill became her primary support system. Her trainer helped her apply for jobs, fill out FAFSA applications, college applications and even finding an apartment for when she ages out of foster care.

"I really thought I was going to be another statistic,” Champagne says. "But since I’ve been involved with Goodwill my future is going to be the complete opposite.”

Champagne now works for Goodwill, in the same program she came through, helping kids just like her prepare for adulthood. She has plans to get her master’s degree in social work and continue helping kids and families.

Christina was Champagne’s trainer during her time in the Independent Living Program and is now her coworker.

"Champagne is a wonderful person with a bright future,” Christina says. "With many obstacles in her way, she has stayed positive during the process of aging out of DCFS care. As Champagne’s Independent Living Trainer, I have noticed some of her excellent qualities, such as her motivation to succeed, her go-getter attitude and her helping nature.”

Coranika Williams - To Be Independent

Coranika Williams - To Be Independent

Coranika Williams struggled with this very thing. She had no job and didn’t know how to find one. Because of that she had no money, no confidence and no independence. Goodwill helped her change that.

Almost 6 months ago, Coranika got a job as a carhop at Sonic. Louisiana Rehabilitation Services referred her to Goodwill’s Supported Employment Program, which helps people with disabilities find and maintain competitive employment. Through this program, Coranika was able to have a job coach help her learn how to perform her carhop duties to ensure she could keep and even thrive in her job, which she has.

"I have gained independence,” Coranika says. "I’m more bold and don’t hesitate before doing things. Before starting my job that Goodwill helped me obtain, I had to depend on family financially, but I am now financially independent. I’ve always had a fiery and bubbly personality and now I am able to show it every day at work.”

Coranika found what she was looking for, and now can focus on her dreams and future as an independent woman.

"Before I was in a shell, but now I have gained confidence and can express myself,” she says. "I feel like I can take on anything! This has been a wonderful journey!”

There are many people out there with disabilities, and sometimes it’s tough for them to find work, to come out of their shells, to be independent. But Goodwill helps people like this find jobs and become everything they want to be.

Thank you for supporting Goodwill!

Erica Bullard

Erica Bullard

A month ago, Erica Bullard would have told you she was directionless. She was doing her best to look for a job on her own, but due to never having held a job before and not really knowing how to look or even what to put on an application, she wasn’t having any luck.

Then Erica came to Goodwill through the Youth Employment Services program. Though meeting with a Goodwill staff member and one-on-one training and discussions, Erica found out she would enjoy a housekeeping position. So that’s where they started looking. Fast forward a bit, and Erica is now successfully employed at the Fairfield Inn Marriott as a housekeeper.

Erica says Goodwill taught her how to dress for an interview and what some of the right things to say were.

"If it were not for Goodwill,” Erica says, "I would not have the job I have now and would still be searching. Goodwill gave me a chance and an opportunity when it seemed like no one else would.”

Erica says she initially thought finding a job would be easy, but quickly learned how little she knew about the process.

Her plans for the future are to keep working hard and pushing forward so she can get full-time hours instead of part-time and to one day be able to afford a house for her and her son.

Jacqueline Williams

Jacqueline Williams

Jacqueline Williams age 49 never thought she would find herself without any job prospects and having to move back home. She faced the daunting task of looking for employment on her own and at times, she found the whole process to be demoralizing. That was when Jacqueline decided to contact the Goodwill Job Center in Shreveport, Louisiana.

Once at the job center Jacqueline was able to speak to a Client Service Specialist who gave her the assistance she needed: weekly job leads, assistance in completing job applications, and handled the follow-up phone calls to the prospective employers. Soon Jacqueline was hired by Southern Oaks Nursing and Rehabilitation Center as a kitchen helper.

This is what Jacqueline has to say about Goodwill Industries and her Client Service Specialist, "She gave me hope in finding employment. Goodwill changed my life because I am working and I can support myself.”

Because of Jacqueline’s new job, she no longer needs to depend on her family for money. Her efforts are paying off and her life now resembles a bright shining star in the night sky.

Goodwill Industries is turning the darkness of night into the dazzling brightness of a million stars!

Jaylon Thomas

Jaylon Thomas

Jaylon Thomas came to Goodwill to get help finding a job.

He had faced many rejections, but hadn’t lost his focus or his drive to get a job. With a supportive family behind him, he knew that his Dyscalculia, a learning disorder, and his ADHD were barriers he could very well overcome. Goodwill helped him learn that he would excel in a position where he could be active and not be restrained to one area or task.

Being active was never a problem for Jaylon, a Monroe native, who played football and basketball in high school and belonged to many social clubs. His family brought him up to be polite and to have a strong work ethic, which has helped him succeed in his job at Brookshire’s Grocery.

For the help that Goodwill and his family provided him, Jaylon’s successes are his own. He never let his disabilities be a barrier he couldn’t overcome and both his family and Goodwill staff are proud of his accomplishments and know he will go on to do great things.

Johnathan Girard

Johnathan Girard

Johnathan Girard needed a chance. He had been searching for a job on his own for a while, but wasn’t having any luck. To make money he would do chores around the house for his parents and walk dogs in his neighborhood, but he was still looking for more.

After he was referred to Goodwill’s Supported Employment Program through Louisiana Rehabilitation Services (LRS), he was quickly placed at the Goodwill Warehouse as a hard goods processor, but he is always quick to volunteer for any other duties that need done. Johnathan can often be found sweeping and helping other departments when they are shorthanded.

But one of the most important changes in Johnathan has been his self-confidence. He has started making plans for his future, mainly to continue his education. Johnathan plans to save enough money to pay for college, majoring in Forensic Psychology.

Through LRS, he has been able to enroll in a program that helps prepare him for college.

Everyone that works with Johnathan has only good things to say about him and his job performance. He has truly been an inspiration to his coworkers, job coaches and program directors.

Joshua

Joshua

We, at Goodwill, believe that having a steady job can do wonders for a person. It helps give them self-confidence, is a source of income and helps bring a sense of purpose.

Joshua wanted a job. He wanted that sense of purpose and the income, but struggled with self-confidence. When he came to Goodwill, referred from Louisiana Rehabilitation Services because of a cognitive disability, Goodwill staff saw through his shy, quiet attitude to the determined young man who just wanted to work.

"Joshua exhibited an exceptional determination to zealously adhere to the recommendations to the team assisting him in gaining employment,” Cecilia Garceau, the Support Employment Manager, says. "Initially, Josh was shy and quiet. Upon continued coaching and encouragement, Josh began to develop confidence in his ability to strike up conversations with strangers.”

Josh speaks on his own shyness and the hindrance it had on him.

"I was very shy and not very social,” he says. "I didn’t know where to begin to achieve some of the things I wanted to do in my life, specifically to work and earn my own money.”

After uncovering the confident, charismatic Josh that was hiding behind the shyness, it wasn’t long before Josh found himself interviewing and then hired on to work as a courtesy clerk for Kroger Grocery Market.

It’s been two years since he’s gotten his first job and his employer couldn’t be happier with their decision to hire Josh.

"He is always on time and consistently does his job effectively and with an excellent attitude,” Gerard Shaw, HR Assistant Manager, says. "Joshua has become an asset to the store as customers know him to be a good worker and friendly associate. We have customers that ask for him personally to bring their groceries to their car.”

The impact a job can have on someone is astounding. Goodwill helped Josh uncover the person he could be, and helped coach him on how to be that, and we’re doing it every day to people with similar stories to Josh’s. The Supported Employment Program, funded through a contract with Louisiana Rehabilitation Services, helps train and encourage people with disabilities how to find a job and become successful and independent.

"Each day I try to display my strong work ethic, professionalism and increased social skills,” Josh says. "I have grown many ways since I have been employed at Kroger. I now have a sense of self-worthiness, confidence and independence. I hope to be a role model and to tell my story to people, disabled and non-disabled. Anyone can be a success like me!”

Karl Gillard

Karl Gillard

Sometimes a single moment, a single decision, a single mistake can change the course of your life.

According to the National Institute of Corrections, for every 100,000 people in Louisiana, 816 of them are in prison. To put this figure into perspective, the national average is 392. Over half of those 816 will return to prison.

Karl was one of those 816. He made a mistake and it cost him. But Karl was driven and determined to make a better life for himself, so he started looking for work when he got out. For seven months he looked for a job with no success until a family friend told him to try Goodwill’s Job Placement Program.

At Goodwill he found a knowledgeable staff who was encouraging and helped him overcome the barrier to finding a job his criminal background had become.

"I think God for placing Ms. Barfield and others from Goodwill in my life,” Karl says. "They did not give up on me. They helped by teaching me skills of how to sell myself to employers, how to better myself and they showed me how to not just have faith, but to believe anything is possible.”

Goodwill helped Karl find a job quickly so he could make ends meet. He found a second job and worked both for 4 months before asking his Goodwill Client Service Specialist if there were any other opportunities available that fit his personality and would allow him to not have to work a second job. Karl was given a lead for an opening at Panera Bread, and with his new found skills and confidence, he landed a full-time job with benefits in a supervisory position.

Goodwill helped teach Karl that that one mistake wouldn’t keep him from being successful. And when Karl wanted to find a better job, Goodwill was there for him again, and will be as long as he needs us.

LaShandra Farr

LaShandra Farr

LaShandra decided a long time ago that she wasn’t going to let her disability stop her from achieving her goals.

She graduated from Carroll High School in Monroe, Louisiana and developed a hard work ethic and positive attitude.

In September of 2014 LaShandra was referred to Goodwill’s Supported Employment Program, which is designed specifically to help people with disabilities find employment. LaShandra completed the program successfully in 2015, but was referred back to the program a few months later for more assistance.

Goodwill helped her find a job as a dishwasher at Kayla’s Kitchen the same year, where she is responsible for cleaning all dishes, utensils flatware and kitchen equipment. When she is needed, Lashandra gladly assists her coworkers with their duties always with a smile on her face

Markayla Williams

Markayla Williams

There’s an age old question most kids are asked over and over, "What do you want to be when you grow up?”

It’s cute when kids say they want to be an astronaut, an extremely difficult and competitive career path, or a fireman, a dangerous choice for sure, or a superhero, come on kid get real, super powers don’t exist. Instead of crushing their tiny dreams, adults will usually laugh and tell them they can be whatever they want to be.

But as these kids grow up, they learn these realities and their dreams change and adapt, but that questions still rings in the back of their minds.

Markayla didn’t have a solid answer to that question. She figured college would be a good idea, furthering her education couldn’t be a bad thing. The plan was to get a job and go to school at the same time, but her dad talked her into just started with a job and then look into school.

She was referred to Goodwill to help her find a job through Louisiana Rehabilitation Services. Markayla has a learning disability and mild cognitive impairment, but she isn’t letting any of that get in her way.

"My goal is to attend college and study business or computer information systems to eventually have a career in management,” she says. "I have gained more confidence to do things on my own. It has helped me to push toward my goals and go to college. Goodwill has given me stability due to the structure and caring they have shown me.”

The thing is, some kids do grow up to be astronauts, or fireman, probably not superheroes but you never know what the future will bring.

So Markayla, you can be whatever you want to be when you grow up, as long as you set your mind to it and work hard to achieve it.

Patricia Williams

Patricia Williams

Finding a job can be difficult for everyone, rejection hurts and most of the time it feels like your sending resumes and applications down a big black hole.

That’s exactly how Patricia Williams said she felt after spending months searching for a job. She had recently gotten out of a stint of incarceration and her self-esteem was low. Tired of an unsuccessful job search, she came to Goodwill and was referred to the Ex-offender program, to help her find work.

She met with the manager of the program, Chris Fournier, and applied for a few different positions at Goodwill, eventually earning the Workforce Development Coordinator position.

Now she does a little bit of everything, always willing to help where there’s a need. She attends job fairs on behalf of Goodwill, attends the Re-entry Coalition, works on statistical reporting. "Pat is so valuable to our department," Deanna Alexander, Pat's supervisor, says, "We have been truly blessed that she chose Goodwill."

But arguably the biggest impact on Pat’s life, has been a renewed sense of purpose. She says Goodwill helped her get her life back and a new chance at a future. She’s currently enrolled in course work at Louisiana State University Shreveport for non-profit administration and is pursuing her Bachelor’s in ASL English interpreting.

Rachel Wilson

Rachel Wilson

When people meet Rachel Wilson, they immediately notice her bright and contagious smile. At her new job she greets the customers with that same welcoming smile, gracious charm and perky personality.

Before coming to Goodwill, Rachel was jobless for about 8 months. During that time she depended on her father for financial support. With a desire and eagerness to get on her feet and support her children, Rachel entered and graduated from the Goodwill GoodSupport program in November 2015. This is where she met Kim Williams, the GoodSupport Placement and Retention Coordinator, who gave her weekly job leads, assistance in job skills training, and the use of the computer lab. During these weekly meetings, Rachel completed many job applications and went on many interviews. She experienced many disappointments in her efforts to find a job but… Rachel is not one to give up easily. In December her patience and diligence paid off!

Rachel landed a job as a team member at the newly built restaurant Zaxby’s Chicken. Her many duties include working the cash register, taking customers’ orders, prepping food items, cleaning the lobby and floors. Grilled chicken on the Zaxby’s menu is Rachel’s favorite food; however, she delights in telling her customers that all of Zaxby’s menus items are good. Rachel has now been employed at Zaxby’s for over 90 days. Her supervisors’ report that they are happy to have her on their team and are working with Rachel to cross train her in other duties at the restaurant.

Rachel takes pride in her job and pride in knowing she is helping people when she takes time to reach out to other ladies who are working towards recovery and self-sufficiency. Rachel does this by sharing her personal story and words of encourage to other women.

Rachel states, "Goodwill has given me the opportunity to start my life over. It has helped me find a work atmosphere that is a safe and sober environment for me to work in. The program has given me someone to be accountable to and in turn, helps me make major progress in my recovery.” Rachel continues to make future goals and strives to make her life better. She has registered to take the Louisiana Civil Service test this month in hopes of gaining a civil service job in the near future. Rachel believes this path will give her better benefits and increased financial stability for her family. Caring and providing for her family is very important to Rachel. Her long term goal is to enroll in a Physical Therapy Assistant program in college this fall.

Rachel Wilson’s future is bright, just like her smile!

Randy Johnson: A Helping Hand

Randy Johnson: A Helping Hand

Life is full of highs and lows. We all know this, and we all go through it. For some, the lows are longer and seem almost impossible to climb out of. A few years ago, Randy Johnson would’ve told you he was in a prolonged low. He had nothing to do but sit at home, stress over the bills slowly getting on top of him and be able to do nothing while his mother was very ill. In short he was depressed, anxious and his self-esteem was at an all-time low.

Randy also had trouble getting a job because he has a diagnosed mental illness. So he lived off of disability and did his best to fight off the depression, with little success.

Then Randy’s life got better; he came to Goodwill.

"Goodwill has changed my life because they have helped me obtain employment and given my life more meaning,” Randy says.

Suddenly, for Randy there was hand there, willing to help pull him out of the low. And he took it. Goodwill helped him find a janitorial job working part-time, which has helped him supplement his disability income. More importantly it gives him a place to go where he’s needed; a place to go where he can meet new people and interact with others; a place to go to feel useful.

"My future foals are to purchase a better car [his is on the verge of dying] and gain meaningful friendships,” Randy says. "I hope to work for Goodwill for a very long time. My life is 100% better since I’ve been involved with Goodwill.”

We all go through times of highs and lows. It’s a fact of life that Randy Johnson’s life won’t be all highs from this time on, but now things are different. Now he has a place to go and people there waiting to help him out.

Tony and Stephanie Martinez - Twice the Success

Tony and Stephanie Martinez - Twice the Success

When Tony Martinez was referred to Goodwill Industries' GoodSupport Program by his child support caseworker, he and his wife, Stephanie, were unemployed and living apart. Their lack of employment made it impossible to stay together so Stephanie moved in with family in Texas while Tony stayed in Shreveport. Both were working odd jobs for cash, but neither had a steady job and they were unable to meet the financial demands of paying their child support.

Tony entered Goodwill's GoodSupport program and took advantage of the 101 classes that offered training in basic computer and job readiness skills. He was especially grateful for the assistance he received in completing applications online. Tony also attended weekly job lead meetings and it was at one of these meetings where he learned about a maintenance position at a local motel. Tony applied for the job and was hired. "This job was a real blessing,” says Tony. "I was given room and board, as well as a salary. This meant my wife could move back to Shreveport and we were no longer living apart.” Tony was also able to make his child support payments.

Once Stephanie was back in Shreveport, she was also referred to Goodwill's GoodSupport program. She had earned a Registered Medical Assistant certificate, but was unable to obtain a job in that field because she had no experience. However, she worked closely with Kim Williams, Goodwill's GoodSupport program coordinator. Kim helped Stephanie find a cashier position at the TA Travel Center in Greenwood, Louisiana, in October, 2012. Shortly thereafter, Tony also started working at the travel center as a porter doing maintenance and janitorial work.
With both of them having a steady income, they were able to purchase a mobile home close to work.

Both Tony and Stephanie are grateful for the assistance they received through the GoodSupport program. "Talking to Kim about job leads and receiving computer training made the process of finding employment much easier,” says Tony. "Kim's positive spirit kept me motivated and hopeful.” Because of the encouragement she received in the program, Stephanie now has plans to go back to school to become a registered nurse. Troy and Stephanie continue to work at TA Travel Center and they are now able to regularly meet their child support obligations. Now they enjoy spending time with their children and Tony has added a new member to the family – his new dog!