Meet Tara. Tara first came to Goodwill in April of 2016 after recently being released from a correctional facility. The criminal activity she was involved with due to her drug addiction left her with felony convictions that ultimately hindered her from getting a good job. Goodwill saw her willingness to change and accepted her in the Transitional Employment Opportunity (TEO) program. The TEO program is a 16-week paid training program that helps individuals transition from incarceration to the workplace. That is when her new journey in life began to unfold!

Tara worked in the production area of our outlet store when she first started in the program. A couple weeks in to the program, she accidentally fell and hurt her ankle. Saddened, she went to the TEO coordinator and said she could no longer work in production due to this injury. To her surprise, they didn’t excuse her from her duties. They created a position just for her as the TEO assistant so she could stay on staff! Right then she knew in her heart that the people at Goodwill had a deep passion for helping others.

As the weeks progressed, Tara excelled both personally and professionally. She sharpened her administrative skills, customer service skills and her soft skills with other employees at the corporate office. She also started working a 12-step recovery program with a sponsor and began a new healthy, holistic way of living.

Upon the completion of the program, Tara applied for a full time position at Goodwill and after a few rounds of interviews was named the data management specialist! She worked closely with TEO and reentry on participant intake, data input and retention. This full time position afforded her the opportunity to get her own vehicle and secure permanent housing. Then came the best gift all. She was able to get her daughter back and have her move back home!

Today, Tara works as a TEO coordinator! She excels in this new role because she can relate to the people who come in the program, and that gives her insight on how to guide them. She is a role model to program participants and gives them inspiration to follow their dreams. Tara is beyond grateful for the opportunity she was given from Goodwill!