“Goodwill gave me my first chance.” Victoria W.
When customers walk into Goodwill’s Bayview store, oftentimes the first person they encounter is its bubbly, smiling Assistant Store Manager, Victoria Warren. Victoria came to Goodwill for training, and in 2010 she was hired full-time and began as a key holder at the Geary Street store before moving into her current role, where she is thriving. “Victoria has amazing social skills, and the customers love her,” says store manager Ana Maciel. Victoria emphasizes that the relationship goes both ways. “Every day I learn something from each customer,” Victoria says. “With each person who comes in the store you have a different learning experience.” Part of Victoria’s success comes from her secret sauce — she knows shopping. Victoria, who turned to Goodwill while she was in a recovery program, says that Goodwill did much more than give her a second chance. “Goodwill gave me my first chance,” she says. “I had never worked before. I am so grateful for this opportunity.”
“Because of Goodwill, I feel like I have a chance now.” Victor P.
Victor P. almost gave up. Unemployed and facing homelessness, he often asked himself, “Am I going to make it?” Childhood was shaped by housing instability and nights sleeping in a car with his mom. Both parents were dead by the time Victor was nine years old. Mounting hopelessness led to dropping out of High School, leaving Victor with limited employment options. The future was uncertain until a friend recommended Goodwill to Victor. “People think Goodwill is just clothes,” says Victor. “But it’s a job training center.” Goodwill career advisors charted a course for Victor that included preparation for certification tests and training that led to a full time bus driving position at a living wage. Today, Victor is a proud homeowner able to provide stability for his family. “I want to be successful,” says Victor. “I’m thankful Goodwill helped me stick it out.”
If you’ve ever visited the Goodwill Job Center, you’ve likely met Noble. Several years ago, when the staff was laid off at the 9th Street Hostel, Noble, part of the janitorial team, was suddenly unemployed. With his family depending on him, Noble literally couldn’t afford to be out of work. After seven long month of unemployment, a friend suggested Goodwill as a resource. Noble began taking advantage of the range of job training and placement programs that Goodwill provides and was excited to secure a position as part of Goodwill’s facilities team. Noble considers his job at Goodwill part maintenance and part Goodwill ambassador. “People on the street ask me about the Goodwill programs. A lot of them end up coming in, graduating from programs and working for the city as truck drivers or getting hired at Goodwill.” Noble believes in helping those still finding their way, “I always tell people to check out Goodwill. The tools are right here for you. All you have to do is pick up a brochure or talk to a counselor to get started.”
“Without Goodwill, I don’t know where I would be.” Angelica K.
Angelica seemed to have it all. Finishing college, happily married and reaching for the American dream, she felt her world suddenly collapse after a brutal divorce. Eight years of self-destruction left Angelica demoralized and certain she’d never work again. Every day people arrive at Goodwill in seemingly hopeless circumstances. Without the possibility of finding a job, the cycle of poverty becomes a tragic generational legacy for too many Bay Area families. Goodwill provided Angelica with critical work readiness training and job placement services that enabled her to return to the workforce. Although she arrived at Goodwill with shattered confidence, today Angelica is a top retail manager who mentors others. In Angelica’s words, “Goodwill gave me the tools and belief in myself to start working again.
“It’s called Goodwill for a reason.” Runako R.
While SF Goodwill’s job training resources offer a comprehensive set of tools to reach economic self-sufficiency, the catalyst for change and the most important ingredient to personal transformation is desire and commitment. For Runako, her desire has paid serious dividends. When Runako came to Goodwill, she was simply looking for a job to support her family, get off public assistance, and move into her own home. Seeking help at San Francisco’s Human Services Agency, she was referred her to Goodwill. “I had to figure out what I wanted to do and I learned that I wanted to drive,” she said. “I wanted to drive a bus.” With Goodwill’s help, Runako completed a 6-week program, that provides students all of the training and certification necessary to pursue a career in trucking. The next test for Runako was to sell the driving skills she had attained in the to an employer. Working with Goodwill’s Employer Engagement Department – which works with a local network of nearly 200 local employers interesting in hiring Goodwill participants – she was able to secure an interview with Bauer’s trucking and was offered a driving job. Today, Runako offers the following advice for anyone coming to Goodwill for the first time: “If people are ready to learn here, they just need to come into Goodwill and try. When people at Goodwill say, ‘We are one, we are a family,’ well, – I believe that.”