Double-Amputee Adjusts to Life After Addiction

    [fa icon="calendar"] Oct 18, 2017 8:00:00 PM / by Jenny Kakasuleff

    Jenny Kakasuleff


    Michelle Williamson doesn’t remember the date or even the year that she lost both of her legs. Her memories are hazy. She was struggling with addiction and homelessness when she acquired frostbite in her toes. They became infected after doctors amputated them, resulting in the amputation of both legs from the knee down. Shortly after, her youngest son was born, and the state was threatening to take custody of him.

    “I take responsibility for the decisions I made,” Michelle said. “I was stubborn and learned a lot of lessons the hard way, but I knew I needed to get my life together.”


    Now nearly 7 years clean, Michelle remembers the exact date when she decided it was time to take control of her future: January 11, 2011. Her primary goal was ensuring she could care and provide for both of her children. She completed the Janitorial Training Program at Goodwill in September 2017 and is now a part-time member of the housekeeping team at the corporate office location.

    “I feel like our work is valued when the staff recognizes and commends the cleaning crew for a job well-done,” Michelle said.


    Michelle wears prosthetics on both legs and experiences discomfort if she stands still for too long, but there are few challenges she hasn’t overcome.

    “There’s nothing Michelle can’t accomplish,” said Amy Trueblood, Janitorial Training Program Supervisor at Goodwill. “Her personality lights up the building.”

    Over the long-term, Michelle is considering enrolling at The Excel Center®, Goodwill’s high school for adults, to earn a diploma. For the time-being, she is focused on her recovery plan and being a good mom.


    “I wouldn’t change anything about my life right now, but my goal is to become entirely self-sufficient,” said Michelle. “I’m enjoying the ability to put food on the table, a roof over my head and to care for my sons.”

    According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, individuals with disabilities are twice as likely to be unemployed as individuals without disabilities. In acknowledgment of National Disability Employment Awareness Month, Goodwill is highlighting the stories and contributions of employees like Michelle Williamson, who overcome daily barriers and inspire us all through their optimism and persistence.


    For more stories like Michelle’s, subscribe to our blog.


    Topics: Employment, Disability, Success Story

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