Second chances start with one-on-one connections

By Catherine Nolan

When Quentin Ludwig first met Goodwill career advisor Tavitia Holmes, it was the beginning of a journey neither of them knew would be so impactful. 

Quentin was in need of another chance. He was living in transitional housing after many years of dealing with the justice system, addiction, and mental health crises, and was looking for a job to keep his tenuous housing situation. He didn’t know Goodwill as anything more than a secondhand store but stopped in anyway with, as he said, “a healthy dose of the ‘I’ve tried everything else’ attitude.” He was given Tavitia’s phone number, a Goodwill Re-Enty Advisor, and they scheduled a time to meet. 

Tavitia understands firsthand the roadblocks that many of her clients face. Her introduction to Goodwill was through a job training program she joined when she was coming out of a period of unemployment and relying on county aid. Her administrative skills and valuable ability to connect with people were recognized and she was offered the position of career advisor, focusing on job seekers with a justice- involved background. The empathy she has for her clients is key to both her and their success. 

“I see the potential in every client that comes in. I see that everyone can be their best versions of themselves.”  

Tavitia Holmes, Goodwill Re-entry Career Advisor 

When you haven’t struggled with housing, food, or employment it can be difficult to understand how even the smallest barrier can feel insurmountable. During their first meeting, Tavitia provided Quentin with a pre-loaded transit card so he could reliably attend training programs and job interviews. As Quentin said, “I have a great skill set but due to my position, I wasn’t even able to search for a job, let alone go to interviews because I didn’t have bus money.” Small but essential resources like this can be the difference between gainful employment and being stuck in a cycle of homelessness. 

“The smallest things that we do are the hugest impacts on people’s lives, and we don’t even realize it because to us it’s just a gift card. To them, this is a lifeline to finding sustainable employment and taking care of themselves.”  

Tavitia Holmes, Goodwill Re-entry Career Advisor 

Quentin found the support he needed not only from Tavitia, but also from every Goodwill employee he interacted with. When he started working at the Concord store, he “could not believe the kindness, compassion, and love that emanated from each and every one”. They worked around his schedule, checked that he had enough food to eat, and treated him with respect. 

“You know you can feel alone and you feel that there’s no way out. But if you have somebody there showing you that there is a way out, then there are brighter days ahead and there are possibilities for you to succeed.”   

Tavitia Holmes, Goodwill Re-entry Career Advisor 

Quentin’s time assisting customers and stocking shelves at the Concord Goodwill store was brief, but that’s one of the goals of our job services. Goodwill provided a stable ground from which he could step forward, allowing him to find a career position suited to his skills and experience. Meanwhile, Tavitia will continue making an impact where she can, taking life one day at a time while focusing on growth and the opportunity to help others. As she says, “Putting confidence in the client is what I want. I want them to know that they are amazing. You can do it. You got it. And that’s it for me. It’s just seeing people just thrive.” 

Below you can read Quentin’s letter to us in full, as we believe there’s nothing more powerful than hearing a story directly from the person who lived it. We’re very grateful to Quentin for sharing his experience and to Tavitia for allowing us to learn more about the connection they formed. Their story of opportunity and second chances is extraordinary—but also shows what is accomplished at Goodwill every day through our collaborative efforts and the determination of our clients. You can help us continue to create second chances for people like Quentin by shopping at our stores, donating your items, and considering a financial donation. You are an essential part of our ecosystem and every contribution makes a difference. 

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