After losing his job in his hometown of West Memphis, Arkansas, AJ moved to Radcliff in 2017 to live with his brother and find temporary employment so he could buy his daughter a Christmas present. His ultimate goal was to obtain his Commercial Driver’s License (CDL), but he wasn’t sure where to start.

In August of 2021, AJ hit another bump in the road when he was arrested and sentenced to nearly a year in prison. When he was released in June of 2022, he said it was difficult to find a job and an opportunity to pursue his CDL.

When searching Indeed, he came across a job opening for a truck driver at Goodwill, which doesn’t require a CDL. He applied and was hired in April of 2023. He quickly learned that Goodwill is so much more than just a job.

“I told them in the interview, ‘My goal is to get my CDL,’” he said. “He was like, ‘That’s perfect. I’m glad you have goals.’ So, once I talked to my career coach and told him about it, that’s when he told me about the Work & Learn program. … I was so excited. When I filled out the form, I sent a picture to my momma like, ‘I’m in there. It’s finally about to happen.’”

AJ began the Work & Learn program in December of 2023 and graduated with his CDL in May. He said his boss, Jordan (pictured with AJ), pulled a lot of strings to get AJ into a CDL class. Due to workload, AJ was only able to attend class once a week.

“He’s literally the reason why all this happened,” he said.

Currently, AJ is gearing up for a new job opportunity as a truck driver with Grand Island Express out of Nebraska, closer to his hometown. He begins in July.

“Without Goodwill, none of this would be possible,” he said. “There was no way I could have paid for CDL school on my own. This has been my dream for the longest. I feel like people weren’t giving me a second chance. But I did my time, and I’m a completely different person than I was then. I just needed someone to believe in me. And that’s where Jordan and Goodwill came in.”

AJ’s main motivation, his family, is especially proud of his accomplishments. With a little help from Goodwill, he’s now able to provide for them on a consistent basis.

“They are ecstatic, man,” he said. “Especially my mom. She’s my world. She’s seen me having these ups and then get let down. She’s been right there with me, and she’s so excited that I’m about to start the career I’ve been trying to get for years. It’s truly a blessing.”