Mitzi’s Goodwill journey started with a thrifted 99-cent United States children’s puzzle.
After moving from Eastern Washington to the Kitsap Peninsula years ago with nothing but her three younger kids, belongings they could fit in their pillowcases and a box of homeschooling materials, a puzzle is what Mitzi gifted her adult son for Christmas. It’s all she could afford.
Mitzi, a dedicated mother of seven who for 17 years homeschooled her children, had divorced following 31 years of marriage and moved to western Washington. She had nowhere to live, no income and no clue how to find work.
With low self-confidence and three-plus decades out of the workforce, she felt hopeless.
“When I was buying the puzzle (at Goodwill) I saw the sign,” Mitzi said. “Job Training. I thought, ‘Oh my goodness, I wonder if I can afford the training?’ Then when I found out it didn’t cost, I just thought, ‘This is awesome.’”
A job is what Mitzi needed to become self-sustainable and feel less of a burden to her children. She was selected for Goodwill’s Retail and Customer Service Program and chose Bremerton’s Job Training and Education Center for her nine-week course.
On her final day of in-store training, Bremerton’s store manager offered Mitzi a retail position.
“I just remember I could feel my jaw drop open,” Mitzi recalled. “‘They want me? They actually want me?’ I had a job, and then I could take care of my kids. It wasn’t my boys taking care of me, and that was huge. It was huge for me to take that step, because I didn’t know how to do that. I went from living with my mom to be being married, and I never knew how to stand on my own.”
Mitzi’s job offer juxtaposed a moment months earlier. Before discovering Goodwill’s free job training and education programs, she had applied to work at Goodwill.
Mitzi received a call back from Bremerton, but she felt she had no skills, was scared and instead of going to the interview cried on her living room floor in frustration.
“Having her ask me to work was a real confidence builder,” Mitzi said. “That was awesome.”
Mitzi, a retail clerk, is nearing her sixth-year anniversary at Bremerton—a place she refers to as home due to the strong customer and employee relationships she’s forged.
Any opportunity Mitzi gets to share Goodwill’s mission, she takes full advantage. She constantly implores customers to round their change up to the nearest dollar on purchases during Goodwill’s Round Up fundraising campaign.
“The whole reason Goodwill exists is because of (job) training,” Mitzi said. “I remember not only not having a job, but not knowing how to go about getting a job. That’s a pretty hopeless feeling. They’ll sit down with you elbow-to-elbow and will show you on the computer how to go on there and how to make your resume and how to apply for jobs. That gives you hope.”