Sarah Pine is the 2012 Graduate of the Year after completing Goodwill’s Transitional Employment Opportunity program.
Q: When did you first start working for Goodwill?
A: December will mark my 5-year anniversary with Goodwill. Five years ago, I was fresh out of prison and had trouble finding a job because very few employers wanted to hire a felon. I put in more than 80 applications and only received two interviews. Because of my record, no one wanted to give me a chance.
My parole officer told me about Goodwill’s Transitional Employment Opportunity (TEO) program, which offers job readiness training and job placement services for people after incarceration. After I entered the program, Goodwill hired me part time for two weeks, then offered me a full-time position.
Q: How has Goodwill impacted your life?
A: Goodwill has impacted my life and my family’s life tremendously. Before Goodwill, I didn’t have a job or custody of my kids.
Since Goodwill, my goals have come to life. I’m 6 years clean, and I’m now an assistant manager of the Springdale Goodwill. I’m also about to buy and build a home through Habitat for Humanity.
My children’s lives have also changed for the better. They know a different way of life now, and they have the opportunity to go to college — before that wasn’t an option. In fact, my two oldest children will graduate high school this year and will go to college next fall. They have a chance to live better lives and to grow up differently than the way I did. There was a pattern in my family: a deadly cycle of addiction. Both my grandmother and my mother died from addiction. I made a decision to break that cycle, and Goodwill gave us a chance to get our lives back.
Q: Where do you see yourself in the future?
A: When I was in prison and thinking about life outside of incarceration, I made a list of things I wanted to accomplish when I got out. Five years later, I’ve accomplished everything on that list, thanks to Goodwill. I’ve accomplished things I never thought would happen. Now, I’m a contributing member of society.
I was recently promoted to assistant manager of the Springdale Goodwill. My goal is to become a manager and to continue to share my experience, as well as the Goodwill mission. I try to give back as much as possible and truly live the Goodwill mission. I currently volunteer with Narcotics Anonymous sharing my experience, strength and hope. I want to be a mentor to those who struggle with drugs or alcohol and to those going through the TEO program. I want people who live a life similar to my past to know that there’s more to life. Just because you once lived that way doesn’t mean you have to live that way in the future. Goodwill has helped me turn my life around.
Q: What advice would you give others who may either be in prison or are new to the TEO program?
A: For those recently transitioning out of incarceration, I strongly recommend the TEO program become the first stepping stone. Experience is not what happens to someone, it’s what one does with what happens to them. [The TEO program] is an opportunity that has forever changed my life! My favorite quote is by Audrey Hepburn: “Remember, if you ever need a helping hand, you’ll find one at the end of your arm … As you grow older you will discover that you have two hands — one for helping yourself, the other for helping others.”
Sarah’s Testimonial Video
Learn more about Goodwill’s TEO program.