Stephanie's story

October 26, 2018

Posted in: Student Stories

Stephanie desperately needed a life change.

She drank heavily but still managed to juggle two jobs while raising two kids with her husband.

When a friend introduced Stephanie to hard drugs as a means of coping with her hectic life, a dark, downward spiral of crime, home evictions and homelessness followed.

“I was like, ‘OK, this is manageable,’” Stephanie said, “but it got progressively worse. We went through three evictions in a year. My husband and I split up. I sent my kids to live in Oregon with my sister (to be in a healthier environment). At that time I was pretty much homeless. All the stuff I had was gone, and my addiction got worse, and I turned to stealing to get by.”

Drugs ripped Stephanie’s family apart. She was living out of her car when in December of 2015 she was arrested and charged with multiple theft-related felonies.

Stephanie was presented two options: a 28-month jail sentence or King County Adult Drug Diversion Court — a program offering eligible defendants the opportunity to receive drug treatment in lieu of incarceration.

Stephanie was at a crossroads.

“The first thing I thought was, ‘I don’t want to go to prison,’” Stephanie said. “Drug court gives you your sentencing right there. If you fail, you go straight to jail. I also wanted to get sober. It was the only way I could get my kids back and support me and them.”

Stephanie committed to change, and Goodwill was there to help.

During a drug court check-in, Stephanie saw a flier for Seattle Goodwill’s free Warehouse and Logistics Training Program, a partnership with South Seattle College (SSC). For nine weeks, students participate in a warehouse skills training course followed by an internship. Students receive certifications in forklift operations, first aid and CPR, flagging and traffic control and hazard communication and globally harmonized systems. SSC provides training space. Goodwill offers additional support services.

“If I hadn’t been in this program, I don’t think I would be here today,” Stephanie said of Goodwill. “There was a lot of understanding here. There was a lot of people to encourage me like, ‘You got this.’ When I didn’t feel great about myself, they felt great for me. They are really supportive, all of them.”

Stephanie registered for the program, illuminating a path toward the life she desired. She thrived in the program and was selected for a Goodwill internship.

Coming to Goodwill was a good fit for Stephanie because “they were willing to look past your past to be able to help you see your future.”

Goodwill’s Job Training and Education (JTE) staff stayed with Stephanie lockstep during her year-and-a-half long drug court, offering emotional support while she pieced her life back together. Goodwill also provided Stephanie store vouchers to buy Christmas gifts for her kids and furniture for a new living space.

After graduating from the Warehouse Logistics and Training Program, Stephanie was offered a job at Seattle Goodwill as a Production Associate.

In August 2017 — two years after sending her kids to live with her sister — Stephanie drove to Oregon and brought them home. Months later, Stephanie’s criminal record was erased upon graduating from drug court.

“If I hadn’t been in this program, I don’t think I would be here today,” Stephanie said of Goodwill. “There was a lot of understanding here. There was a lot of people to encourage me like, ‘You got this.’ When I didn’t feel great about myself, they felt great for me. They are really supportive, all of them.”

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