In May 2022, Goodwill of Central & Southern Indiana and Cook Medical officially opened our new manufacturing facility built in partnership with the northeast Indianapolis community. The goal was to bring opportunities in education, health and employment to a community that experiences high poverty, high unemployment and limited opportunities due to corporate desertion in the preceding decades.
We’re pleased to report that this initiative is already changing lives in the community, like Dora Figueroa, a supervisor at the new facility. Dora immigrated to the United States from El Salvador in 1996 because she heard there were opportunities in America, but until recently, she hadn’t seen those opportunities in her own life.
“Shortly after I arrived here, I enrolled in English classes,” Dora said. “I thought that I could get a better job if I spoke good English, but I also didn’t have a high school diploma, and that limited the jobs available to me too.”
Before coming to America, Dora ran a grocery store in El Salvador, but for the past 25 years, she has worked entry-level jobs – for minimum wage or slightly more. She was promised raises and promotions that never happened, and she began to question her own self worth.
“Last summer, my neighbor referred me to Goodwill Commercial Services,” Dora said. “I was hired into an entry-level position, but the people at Goodwill immediately saw potential in me. Within 6 months, I received my first promotion. In January of this year, I started training for the tasks at this new facility, which is here in my neighborhood, where I’ve lived since 1998.”
In February, Dora was offered the role of supervisor. Although she knew the tasks well and wanted the opportunity, she had doubts.
“I still worry that my English isn’t good enough,” Dora explained. “I still don’t have a high school diploma. But the facility director assured me that I was ready to take this step and said she would be there every step of the way to help me. Her confidence in me helped me see myself in the same way.”
It’s the first salaried position Dora has ever held.
“I’ve missed a lot of weddings, birthdays and other life events because I’ve always worked on the weekends,” Dora said. “Now I can be a part of these celebrations too.”
The facility director also encouraged Dora to enroll at The Excel Center, Goodwill’s high school for adults. She began classes in May 2022 and is currently working toward earning her diploma.
“My family is proud of me, and I’m proud too,” Dora said. “I get emotional when I think of where I was just last summer and where I am now. I’ve never been given an opportunity like this or had the support I have here. It’s the best, but none of it would have been possible without Goodwill. I’m grateful that they chose my neighborhood and that they trust me to be a part of it.”
Learn more about Goodwill's partnership with Cook Medical at 38th and Sheridan.