When Teresa Smith joined Goodwill Commercial Services in 2009, she was re-entering society and the workforce after a period of incarceration. Her history with the criminal justice system made it difficult to secure a job, but she approached the opportunity at Goodwill with a focus on improving her professional skills and rebuilding her life.
Nearly half of 25-year-olds with autism have never had a paying job and only 16% of persons with autism ever live independently, so when twin brothers Andre and Austin Archer connected with Goodwill Disability Services in 2016 and said they were eager to do both, our team got to work.
Martha Bess has always had a love of learning, but personal barriers prevented her from finishing high school as a teenager. She married at 14 years old and started her own family, which grew to include six children. Over 20 years later, she began working with her church’s homeschool co-op, where her children attended, and soon discovered her own love of teaching. To advance her career and to continue to set a good example for her children, she knew she would need a high school diploma.
Since she was young, Lindsey Lemen wanted to pursue her college education. Unable to attend college after graduating from high school, she put her dream on hold. Lindsey faced barriers after graduating that made it hard for her to maintain full-time employment. These barriers were removed after she started working at the Goodwill store in Shelbyville, Indiana.
Cayley Golay is an unstoppable force whose main source of fulfillment is her desire to help people. Cayley joined the Goodwill family when she was a junior in high school, working in retail stores throughout her high school career until she found a job in manufacturing after graduation. When Cayley realized she wanted to go back to school to pursue a nursing career, she chose to return to Goodwill where she knew she would be supported through the process.
Jaquala Berry’s Story
Meet Basimah Alshaar
Erica Webb’s first major barrier to achieving independence was becoming a mother at 17 years old. Although she successfully graduated from high school, a series of setbacks negatively impacted her ability to provide for her growing family.
Martha Moraga worked hard to raise her four children while earning a high school diploma at The Excel Center®, Goodwill’s high school for adults. She strives to be a role model for all of her children - with the goal of becoming a medical assistant - and her teachers believe she already sets a great example.
Mohammed Alhamwi’s journey to The Excel Center®, Goodwill’s high school for adults, begins more than 6,000 miles away in his home country of Syria. Like many Syrians, his family was forced to flee as a result of the country’s civil war. As refugees in Jordan, they weren’t permitted to pursue employment or education which left them unable to build a life there. It seemed as if Mohammed’s family was in a perpetual limbo. They connected with Exodus Refugee Project and steadily worked for a more permanent placement. After several years in this limbo state, they received word that they were being placed in the U.S.