A Journey from Latvia to Indiana

    [fa icon="calendar"] Oct 26, 2021 1:25:00 PM / by Kennedy Gallagher

    Kennedy Gallagher

    IMG_3423 (1) (1)

    Diana Wolfe, an immigrant and adopted orphan from Latvia — a ​​country of northeastern Europe and the middle of the three Baltic states — has been recently promoted as Retail Store Manager in Whitestown. Diana cannot wait to continue growing her career with Goodwill of Central & Southern Indiana, hoping to someday adopt a child of her own. 

    Diana, who was born with a cleft lip and palate along with other health issues, was adopted at seven years old from an orphanage in Latvia, and she has lived in the United States ever since. 

    In her first month in the United States, it was difficult to communicate with a language barrier between her and her adopted parents.  

    “When I first came to the U.S., I spoke only Russian and Latvian,” said Diana. “I was seven and didn’t know any English at all.”

    In 2014, Diana started working with Goodwill as a Retail Associate in Indianapolis, helping set up the store when it opened. One year later, she was promoted to Team Lead, and in 2019, she was promoted again. 

    Diana also participated in the Goodwill Guides program, which helps Goodwill employees, students and program participants identify and set goals, increase their educational attainment, improve their finances, and earn industry-recognized certifications for in-demand fields and more. Her Goodwill Guide helped Diana in the interview process by doing mock interviews which allowed her to grow her self-esteem and become more comfortable. 

    During that time, Diana also wanted to pursue a career as a medical assistant. Her Guide helped her find a university in her budget, and she earned a medical assistant degree while working at Goodwill.

    “At first I planned on leaving Goodwill to become a medical assistant,” said Diana. “However, my store managers wanted to help me grow within the business, and I knew that Goodwill had more potential for me down the road that worked with my schedule.”

    Two years ago, Diana found out she had otosclerosis — the deterioration of hearing — so she started using a hearing aid. At first she felt embarrassed at what people would think, but she has been able to gain confidence in herself as time went on. Diana has also had eight surgeries to correct her cleft lip and palate.

    Recently, Diana was promoted to store manager. She is now in charge of many tasks including payroll, hiring, scheduling and attending meetings, managing and training 34 employees and maintaining store organization on the floor. Diana is currently studying business and management at Ivy Tech and plans on finishing at the end of 2021 to enhance her management skills at the store.

    “Goodwill has been like my second family. I started out when the Anson Goodwill Retail store opened and worked my way up, I don't see myself going anywhere else,” said Diana.

    Diana has been able to connect with her birth family and is hoping to revisit them in Latvia as soon as it is safer to travel. Now, with plans to move into her own apartment next month and transition to a house within the next two years, Diana has started to look towards her future.

    “I want to adopt or foster children one day; this dream keeps me motivated to get up every day and work,” said Diana. 

    Topics: Language Barrier, Retail

    Kennedy Gallagher

    Written by Kennedy Gallagher

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