Earlier this year, Mary served nine months in jail for shoplifting. She was married with three children, but when she was released, she was put out on the street by her husband.
“I was at my rock bottom,” Mary said. “Been arrested, got out, no home. I had no place to go to, no family. I didn’t even have a penny in my pocket. I hadn’t seen my kids in nine months. I never did drugs before, but honestly, at that point, if it wasn’t for Goodwill, I think I would have gotten into drugs.”
That night, she stayed with the Salvation Army. One week later, she learned about Goodwill.
“Of course, when you hear about Goodwill, you hear it’s a store where you donate stuff,” she said. “You don’t hear about all the good things.”
Mary made her way to the Louisville Resource Center at 909 East Broadway. There, she met with Director of Career Services Martha Stephenson and Reentry Coordinator Miranda Montgomery, who led her to the Another Way program. Another Way provides transportation and work-based learning opportunities to individuals with visible needs. Participants earn $50 per day and lunch.
“It wasn’t so much the money at the end of the day,” she said. “It was the people. You got together, you laughed, joked, they fed you. All of them are great. Another Way is fabulous. … They go out and they want to help people. They have heart here.”
Goodwillers at the Louisville Resource Center helped Mary get her old job back as a housekeeper at the University of Louisville Hospital, but she said she wanted a change of pace, so she applied to work at the Broadway Goodwill location next to the resource center.
“It was a great opportunity,” she said. “I’m so glad I took it because I love it here. I’ve been here for two months, and I’ve been promoted to team lead. Within a week of being here, I got housing, I got on food stamps. This store is so much more than what people think it is.”
A South Carolina native, Mary said she didn’t have anyone to turn to when she was released from jail, not even her family – but now, her Goodwill family is there for her, even if she just needs someone to talk to.
“Thank God I had Goodwill,” she said. “Because Goodwill has been my family.”
Currently, Mary is working on earning her GED through Goodwill. She is also working her way through the Cars to Work program to obtain a vehicle. Jeanie, the store manager at Broadway, said Mary has been a breath of fresh air in her month and a half with the team.
“It’s not like they’re just bringing in people to work, they actually care,” Mary said. “My manager, miss Jeanie, she’s fabulous. She has a heart. She’s like a mother to me.”
Now that Mary knows about all the “good” resources that Goodwill offers, she makes a point to share it with others, especially with individuals going through similar challenges. She helped her friend who was staying at the Healing Place find a job at the Northfield store, and he’s already gotten housing.
“It takes that drive,” she said. “As long as you have that drive, you’re going to succeed here at Goodwill – and they’re going to make sure you do it. … Goodwill is always going to have a door open for you.”