Success Story: Chelsea (Custodial Skills Program)

At the age of 13, Chelsea Brown was struck by a car and suffered a traumatic brain injury that left her with some psychological challenges and cognitive limitations, including working with numbers. Nevertheless, she persevered and graduated from high school on time.

Then, at age 21, Chelsea suffered another serious injury while trying to break up a knife fight. She was stabbed in the chest and nearly died. “I had never been a people person and mostly kept to myself, but this incident really drew me into my shell,” she comments. She became anxious about leaving her house and was unable to work.

“I knew I needed a job—my family was always getting on me about finding a job. My parents and my sister would say that whenever I started something I would give up when it got rough. I decided to do something, to show them I could start something and finish it. Even though I was hesitant, I contacted Goodwill.”

Chelsea’s first step was to complete the mandatory 2-week Pathways to Work program. “Pathways was tough for me. It’s hard for me to be in an unfamiliar place with people I don’t know. And the subject matter was hard for me too.” But after the first couple of days, she surprised herself by speaking up. “I started asking questions during the sessions. And once I start talking, you can’t shut me up,” she laughs. She also met a few of the other participants and Goodwill staff members that provided a good support network for her.

By the time Chelsea started the Custodial Skills program, she was feeling more comfortable. She knew some of the other participants from Pathways and the class size was smaller. She became more confident and began to speak up when she felt overwhelmed.

Once she completed her program, she kept coming back to Goodwill every day to look for jobs in the Job Resource Center and to volunteer in the classroom to keep her skills fresh and not lose her motivation. As a student mentor, Chelsea began to realize she had strong leadership and communication skills. “Before Goodwill, I was told I wouldn’t amount to much and felt I had no purpose. Now I know I have skills and the confidence to do my job.”

Today Chelsea is working as a custodian for the YMCA through Goodwill’s Go2 Property Services. She shares her story with others, including making formal presentations. “Gaining the courage to present myself in front of groups has really helped me build my confidence. Even with my doubts, I’ve pushed forward and succeeded. Strangers believe in me which makes me believe in myself.

“I’m glad I came to Goodwill. I realize now it wasn’t my family who I needed to prove something to; it was proving it to myself.”


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