Robert is 62 years old and has spent more than two-thirds of his life in prison. He has six prison numbers, five state and one federal. He watched his children grow up through pictures.

He was released from his most recent stint, a 10-year sentence, 10 months ago. He knew he had to change but didn’t know how – all he knew was using drugs, selling drugs and causing harm.

“At the end of the day, none of the ends justified my means,” he said.

After enrolling in drug counseling, Robert began looking for a job. He met De’Shauna, the manager at our Meadowthorpe store in Lexington, who told him she would be with him every step of his career search. De’Shauna ended up hiring Robert as a full-time production clerk.

“I try to make her understand the type of impact she’s had on my life,” Robert said. “I have federal parole officers who look at me now and say, ‘Wow, what happened? Who changed you?’ There was a point when I really didn’t know what to do. Then, God started placing these people in my life.”

Once a drug addict who “couldn’t keep his hands off heroin,” Robert is now thrilled to be part of our Goodwill family and is committed to use his story to help others. He’s about to begin a peer support class to help him reach that goal and has been introduced to our many program services through De’Shauna.

“I had no idea how to live,” he said. “My thing now is to give back as much as I can to my community. I don’t know how much I have in front of me. A lot of my life is behind me. I’m facing a double lung transplant. I’ve started therapy for that. But, through it all, I’ve learned to press forward from (De’Shauna). …

“Recovery is something you have to want. You have to work for it. There’s work involved. Daily maintenance of yourself is involved. It took me a lot of years to find that.”

Robert recalled a story of him sleeping in a car during the 1986-87 blizzard while he was a heroin addict. Fast forward to the present, and he’s more than 20 years sober, has held a job longer than he ever has and was able to walk onto a car lot and purchase a vehicle just last month. And despite his history, he has strong relationships with his family.

“There are things happening to me that have never happened before,” he said.

Next month, we’ll celebrate Robert, De’Shauna and the Meadowthorpe store for winning the Store of Excellence Award! The award is given to stores that meet several marks for store performance, cleanliness, safety and customer service.