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Empowered by Goodwill

May 1, 2014

Several years ago, Kristen Whitebean was laid off from her position cataloging books at a bookstore in downtown Syracuse. She said the manager told her that there wasn’t enough work for her to do.

After being laid off, Kristen spent the next four years looking for employment. She is disabled and lives in an IRA, or group home, operated by Liberty Resources in Clay, NY. “There were not too many jobs out there,” Kristen realized. Yet, that did not stop her from wanting to work and earn a paycheck, which is a source of pride for Kristen.

Mary Webb, an employment case manager at Liberty Resources worked with Kristen, developing skills that empowered her job search. When they learned that Goodwill was opening a store in Syracuse, Mary said they took the opportunity to look into the organization.

“It touched our hearts so much about what Goodwill does,” Mary said.

Mary helped Kristen navigate to Goodwill’s online job application, but it was Kristen that filled it out all on her own.

“Kristen wanted to do it herself. She is very determined,” Mary said, adding that she helped Kristen prepare by doing mock interviews and other coaching.

The work Kristen and Mary put in paid off. Kristen was offered a job and started working in the store in September of 2011. Finding the opportunity at Goodwill meant that Kristen could help people – something she had wanted to have the opportunity to do in her job.

“I love this job,” Kristen said, noting, “It is a great atmosphere.”

Kristen said she was “stunned” when she received her first paycheck. She said she thought she was only volunteering and not getting paid. Needless to say, she was very happy and her sense of pride was restored.

“It is more than a retail store. It is empowering people. I am so impressed with everyone there – the entire team and how they interact. It is person-centered, just like we (Liberty Resources) are,” Mary said.