Brandy grew up a standout student in Lexington and went on to attend the University of Kentucky on scholarship.

But as a freshman with almost no support system, she struggled, and eventually, she chose to leave Lexington for Brooklyn, New York. There, she said she fell into the grip of addiction by age 20.

She had her first daughter when she was 23 years old. She was sober for the pregnancy but went back to using after she gave birth. The same thing happened seven years later with her second daughter.

Three years ago, at age 33, Brandy chose a different path. But she said she still faced challenges getting a reliable job because of her background.

“I took longer than it should have taken me,” she said, “but finally I was like, ‘I’m tired of this.’ I got clean three years ago, and I still wasn’t confident enough to apply for jobs even though I had college (experience).”

With her kids in mind, she knew she had to take a chance, which ended up being with us at Goodwill. She was hired as a material handler at our Crestwood store despite only “hustling” for most her life. In addition to earning a paycheck, she learned of all the services we offer and took advantage herself, including the Goodwill Cars to Work program.

“I had dental insurance for the first time in my life,” she said. “That’s crazy to say as a 36-year-old woman. That’s a big deal to me. I had an awesome career coach, Sherry Wade. She was like, ‘Stay doing the right things, stay focused. You can do this.’ From there, I got a car from Cars to Work, I got my license back. I’m a fully licensed, insured driver. I honestly had given up on grown-up stuff like that. I have life insurance. I have all that.”

The opportunity for growth kept her at Goodwill. And after one promotion, she’s currently transitioning to an assistant manager role at our new outlet location in Louisville. She said Troy Wright, the outlet manager, noticed her work ethic.

“I have people having my back for the very first time,” she said.

Brandy knew she was capable, but she was hesitant to take a leap due to her background.

“I’m going to be hiring people,” she said. “My mind is blown. If you would have told me a year ago, (I wouldn’t believe you). … Goodwill believed in me when I didn’t believe in myself.”

Now, she’s recently applied to classes again at UK, while working on production for the new store. She had her third child, a son, two years ago.

She said it’s “amazing” to see her hard work pay off so quickly.

“Once you first get clean, you assume everything is going to fall into line,” she said. “But it takes you a while to dig out of that hole. Like I said, I just got my license back. It has just started happening. Goodwill has been a huge step in that. It’s given me structure, a purpose – it’s given me hope, more than anything.”