While Leslie was in prison, she felt defeated. With release right around the corner, she knew there had to be a way to get her life back on track. Little did she know a job application for Goodwill would change the course of her life.
When Leslie was hired at Goodwill, she had not held a job in 10 years. She was nervous to start a new chapter after experiencing the harsh realities of prison, but at Goodwill she found a gentle, welcoming and accepting environment.
“I remember getting my first paycheck,” Leslie said. “I was real proud of it.”
As time went on, Leslie’s confidence began to grow. She learned how to get to work on time and how to have a real work ethic.
“For somebody like me and how I used to be,” Leslie said. “I didn’t even know what work ethic was.”
Along the way, Leslie's digital and leadership skills grew. Eventually, she advanced to a lead position in the Donation Services Unit. Equipped with her new skills and knowledge that she acquired from Goodwill, Leslie began to feel like it was time to start a new chapter of her life.
“I can’t imagine making the transition back into the community without the environment that I had here,” Leslie said. “I left Goodwill on shaking knees. I didn’t want to leave, but I knew I had to leave.”
Leslie was hired at the Betty Hardwick Center working in mental health peer support. She specifically worked with clients in the process of going through the judicial system since she had personal experience in this area. Leslie continued to reach personal and professional goals, by purchasing a home and beginning to study to receive a Bachelor of Science degree in correctional program support services.
Unfortunately, Leslie was also met with a significant personal challenge. Her mother's health was failing, and she needed Leslie's focused care. Having never been in a similar situation, Leslie worried that she would have to sacrifice her job to take care of her mother. Thanks to the support of her workplace, she learned that she could take leave, spend those crucial last few weeks with her mother, and return to the job she loved when the time was right.
“It’s like, I can do these things because of the last few years and the things that I’ve been through and the way that the Lord has carried me through and the people he’s placed in my life,” Leslie said. “And I know that those people, a lot of them, are from Goodwill.”
When she returned to work, Leslie stepped into a new position as a community health worker, where she continues to serve the community by providing crucial outreach to individuals with substance abuse issues, another group of individuals to which she can personally relate. She will also finish her degree this fall.
“Never did I think I would be living the life that I live today,” Leslie said.