Goodwill’s job training, career services, and programs help people achieve independence.

“I wanted to work in human services, but I kept hearing that I didn’t have the necessary experience. It was frustrating.”

~ Dugana

The last few years have had highs and lows for Dugana Celestin. She experienced the birth of her son; she became homeless; and she found the training and support she needed to find work that helped her become more independent.
  
As a child, Dugana lived in Medford before moving to Georgia with her family when she was a teenager. She returned to Boston in 2018 for more job opportunities, but was unable to find work. Instead, she found herself homeless and living at a shelter in Roxbury with her newborn.
 
“I wanted to work in human services, but I kept hearing that I didn’t have the necessary experience,” said Dugana. “It was frustrating.”
 
Her case worker at the Department of Transitional Assistance told her about Goodwill’s Human Services Employment Ladder Program (HELP), which prepares people to work in human services. That was all Dugana needed to hear.
 
Dugana enrolled in the HELP program in the fall of 2018. The program, which includes eight weeks in the classroom and an internship, allowed her to get the training she needed and eventually helped her get a job as an intake receptionist at Bridge Over Troubled Waters in Downtown Crossing working with homeless, runaway, and at-risk youth. She also found permanent housing for herself and her young son.
 
Now focused on finishing her college degree and becoming a social worker, Dugana is optimistic. “Things have turned around,” Dugana said. “I’m very hopeful for the future.”

“This is the next challenge for me and I want  to make the best of it.”

~ Rich

When you meet Rich, you understand the importance of second chances. Rich’s belief in the ability to turn one’s life around is infectious. And he doesn’t just talk the talk – he puts his words into action and follows through.

Rich was at the Boston Pre-Release Center in Roslindale. Prior to the Boston Pre-Release Center, Rich was incarcerated at MCI-Shirley in minimum security. Rich has dealt with substance abuse issues for much of his life, but said he participated in recovery programs at Shirley and is now “100 percent clean.”

The East Boston native got his position at the BJ’s Bakery through MassHire Boston Career Center as part of a new program with the Massachusetts Department of Correction. The program helps individuals returning from incarceration learn how to search for a job and find employment opportunities by accessing the career center and its services.

“I’ve loved coming to MassHire Boston Career Center,” Rich said, “and I’m always telling the younger guys about it. They need to take advantage of it. I got my job here and I’m still looking at other opportunities.”

“I like working at the store and helping customers. I also like to work with my new co-workers and teach them things.”

~ Josephine

When Josephine Ramos came to Goodwill through the Massachusetts Department of Developmental Services in 2012, she was a shy 22-year-old aging out of the Springfield public school system who had trouble focusing and communicating with others.
 
Fast-forward to the present and Josephine is an outgoing person who loves to work and help others. A key driver of that transformation has been Josephine’s participation in Goodwill’s Employment Supports Program in Springfield.
 
At Goodwill, Josephine learned job and social skills and now works at The Goodwill Store in Chicopee on a part-time basis as an assistant sales associate. The work has helped her open up and engage with others.
 
“I like working at the store and helping customers,” said Josephine. “I also like to work with my new co-workers and teach them things.”
 
Her work and training at Goodwill has helped her focus on her future and hopes to work in food services someday.

“When they learned I was a veteran, they connected me with the veterans rep. We started working together right away. It was great to be able to make that connection.”

~ Denzel

With the help of MassHire Boston Career Center, Denzel Douglas of Dorchester found a new beginning.
 
Denzel, a Navy veteran, came to MassHire in the spring of 2019 after being unemployed for nearly a year. Up until then, his job search had been frustrating. He did not have high hopes when he walked into MassHire.
 
But things changed – and for the better.
 
“When they learned I was a veteran,” Denzel said, “they connected me with the veterans rep. We started working together right away. It was great to be able to make that connection.”
 
In the Navy, where he had served from 2011-15, Denzel had worked as a medic. Now, out of the military, he wanted to do something where he was still helping others. 
 
Working closely with MassHire’s veterans representative, Denzel began refining his resume, honing his interview skills, and applying for targeted jobs. By July 2019, he was hired as an Information and Referral Specialist at Brighton Marine, a veteran network community.
 
“This is a great job for me,” Denzel said. “It’s in the field I wanted and I’m helping veterans get the services they need. I’m very happy the way things turned out.”

“The HELP program gave me a lot of inspiration. I learned my value there and realized I had the expertise to help other people.

~ Micklean

Micklean has a personality that brightens any room. That positive and upbeat persona serves Micklean well in her position as a residential counselor at a group home for young women ages 16 to 20. The young women face many challenges, but Micklean is always there with a smile and words of encouragement. “I treat them like I treat my children,” said Micklean, the mother of six children. “I always try to be there for them.”

Micklean has faced many challenges herself. When she came to Goodwill, she was working in the food service industry after long period of unemployment, and was seeking a career where she could make better wages and have opportunities to advance.

She enrolled in HELP – the Human Services Employment Ladder Program – that prepares individuals to work in human services and quickly knew she had found the right profession. Through HELP, Micklean secured employment at Communities for People, which provides residential programs and housing for troubled youth and foster children. She’s very happy with the way things worked out.

“I like this job a lot. I get to move around and I’m always busy. It’s fun.”

~ Paul

To watch Paul Yahoodik work, is to watch someone who knows exactly what he is doing – no wasted motion, no extra steps, just precise movement to get the job done.

Paul was referred to Goodwill’s Salem Training Center in 2015 by the Massachusetts Department of Developmental Services. At 22, he had aged out of the public school system in Lynnfield without a connection to a job. He was eager to work.
 
After receiving job readiness training, Paul began working at one of Goodwill’s mobile work crews at American Surgical Company in Salem. He liked the job, but wanted to be closer to home. Working with his Goodwill case manager, he started a job search and applied for a position at Amazon Prime as a personal shopper at the Whole Foods in Lynnfield. He got it and it was just what he was looking for in a job. 
 
At Whole Foods, Paul uses a hand-held device to see what he needs to get to fulfill an order. He has been at the job since June 2018 and knows his way around the bustling grocery store like the back of his hand.
 
“I like this job a lot,” said Paul. “I get to move around and I’m always busy. It’s fun.”
 
Paul’s supervisors have praised his hard work and he enjoys the independence he achieves from working and saving money.

“I got a lot out of the mock interviews. It was so helpful to do interviews with a lot of different people and hear their feedback on how you present yourself.”

~ Cliffeth

In 2016, Cliffeth was unemployed and living in Florida. A single mother with four children, she was facing a number of challenges. After some thought, she decided to move to Boston to be closer to her sister.

Cliffeth was glad she made the move, but life in Boston continued to be challenging for her. When she was referred to Goodwill by the Massachusetts Department of Transitional Assistance, she was determined to make the most of the opportunity.

Cliffeth enrolled in First Step, Goodwill’s three-week job-readiness program that prepares individuals for the workforce. In the class, Cliffeth updated her resume, refined her job search, and participated in mock interviews, among other things.

“I got a lot out of the mock interviews,” she said. “It was so helpful to do interviews with a lot of different people and hear their feedback on how you present yourself. It was a really good program.”

Out of First Step, Cliffeth got a job in customer service in the Longwood medical area, but soon moved on to Beth Israel Deaconess Hospital as a unit coordinator. She is now in a program at Beth Israel to become a surgical technologist. She credits the Goodwill First Step program with getting her on track and into a field she loves and that allows her to support her children.

“It helped me focus on what I wanted to do,” said Cliffeth.

“I like coming here and doing my job. Everyone is very nice. It’s a good place for me to come and work every day.”

~ Vera

There is a look of determination on Vera’s face when she works. Whether it’s tagging clothes in the back room at Goodwill’s  location in Danvers or placing items on the sales floor, Vera does it all with tenacity and skill.

Vera first came to Goodwill’s Salem Job Training Center in 1989 through the Massachusetts Department of Developmental Services and over the years has had a number of successful job placements in the community. After she was laid off from a restaurant chain in early 2018, she was eager to get back to work.

Goodwill was set to open The Goodwill Store and Donation Center in Danvers in March 2018, and Vera was a great candidate for a production assistant positon at the new location. It is work that suits her well.

“I like coming here and doing my job,” she said. When she works on the floor, she enjoys meeting the customers. “Everyone is very nice. It’s a good place for me to come and work every day.”

With that, Vera gets back to work, her determination as strong as ever.