Goodwill Success Stories
Your donations and purchases have the power to transform lives.
By donating and shopping at Goodwill stores, you help create opportunities for personal and professional growth for people with challenging life circumstances. Our GoodWorks program provides vocational training, support, and coaching designed to help the individuals we serve achieve their goals of employment and self-sufficiency.
Goodwill Success Stories
Every person deserves the dignity that comes with work. Every person has a story. These are just a few of the countless stories behind every Goodwill store.
Southern Oregon Goodwill Employee, Jackson County
Following a difficult childhood in and out of foster care, Karen ran away from home in her teens and substance use became a way to escape the trauma of her past. It was an escape that quickly robbed her of her independence, ending up “sidewalk homeless” for eight years.
Karen credits the City of Medford’s Livability Team and Rogue Retreat with saving her from life on the streets and overcoming addiction in 2021. She credits Southern Oregon Goodwill’s Job Connection with helping her find employment, and our GoodWorks staff with assisting her in her latest accomplishment – applying for and being accepted to bible college.
When asked about her dreams for the future, Karen plans to continue working for Goodwill while she finishes her degree. A gifted writer, Karen smiles when asked if writing a book may be in her future. She says for now she remains focused on her ultimate dream of home ownership.
“It’s amazing what a difference a year can make. I live in a Hope Village tiny home, I go to work, and I’m going to college. I am enjoying this time of independence so much. In an odd way, I’m a 40-year-old who is learning to adult for the first time.” – Karen
2016 Goodwill Story of the Year, Jackson County
Divorce, foreclosure, no high school diploma, and six years out of the workforce to care for her son who has spina bifida and her daughter had left Hayley Taylor feeling depressed and stuck.
She came to Southern Oregon Goodwill to earn her GED and gain work experience, and, in the process, discovered a career where she thrives by helping others. Success in the classroom motivated her and doing supported work in a Goodwill Job Connection built her office skills and unlocked her passion for service. Goodwill Workforce Development team members noticed her hard work and dedication, and recommended she be hired as part of the team.
“I enjoyed it so much. I was at it every day until they hired me. Now I’m a Job Coach and I run the Job Connection in Ashland.” – Hayley
2015 Goodwill Graduate of the Year, Jackson County
Sami had just escaped an abusive marriage and was raising her toddler son, Trebor, on her own when an Oregon Department of Human Services self-sufficiency program sent her to Southern Oregon Goodwill to help her regain her footing 14 years ago. She was working with a Goodwill job coach to gain skills and confidence to build a better life when she was diagnosed with breast cancer. Sami’s job coach accompanied her to doctor appointments and encouraged her through a year of chemotherapy and radiation treatment.
Once she beat cancer, Sami returned to Goodwill to continue job training. Because of the help Goodwill had given her, she was eager to give back and applied to be a production assistant at the Goodwill store in Grants Pass. She was hired and has worked there for 11 years, serving as a trainer and mentor for her co-workers, as well as a role model for her son.
“I wouldn’t be where I am today without Goodwill.” – Sami
2014 Goodwill Graduate of the Year, Jackson County
The man Justin was five years ago is radically different from who he is today. As a sober and committed father of four, getting clean didn’t sponge up his criminal record.
“He filled out approximately 120 applications and went on 15 or 20 job interviews. He was starting to get discouraged filling out so many job applications and going on interviews to have so many doors close or never open,” said Shiloe Rivas, Goodwill Program Specialist.
She explained that when Justin revealed all of his criminal record to potential employers, their impressions of him changed as did their interest in hiring him—regardless of how much he has been rehabilitated. “It was just door after door after door shut in my face, but everyday I kept telling myself ‘today is the day I’m going to get a job,’” Justin said. This type of confidence, motivation, and persistence eventually led him to the right employer who saw his potential, not his scarred past.
“Goodwill gave me a good perspective on myself and my life —what I could become, and what I am becoming.” – Justin
2014 Goodwill Graduate of the Year, Klamath County
Kira came to Goodwill in Klamath County as a Transitions Student after graduation. Transitions programs are aimed at providing vocational training and support for young adults with various disabilities.
“Kira is a unique situation. After high school she didn’t do much so upon coming to Goodwill she had to step out of her comfort zone to interact with and rely on other people,” said Sam Tevis, Goodwill Job Developer.
After her skills assessment, Kira began training in retail production work—sorting and tagging donated clothing—in Goodwill’s Klamath Falls store. She asked her Goodwill Job Coach for more challenges. This more confident and assertive Kira amazed and impressed her supervisors. Kira moved on to run large recycling equipment in the warehouse to bale cotton textiles for shipping
After completing the training phase, Sam shifted focus to finding Kira a full-time job that was right for her. Kira asked to work as a regular employee for Goodwill, and was hired soon after.