How many gigabytes of memory are on your laptop? What does RAM mean? If you need the answers to those questions and more, Irvin Ingram’s the man to ask.
Ingram has worked at Goodwill’s e-recycle store in Richmond for seven years. But, his pathway to success started 12 years ago. During high school, Ingram was the head of his household, taking care of his mother and disabled younger brother.
His drive to have a career led Ingram to Goodwill, where he entered the Work Adjustment Training program. It provides training and support to people who have difficulty obtaining or maintaining employment due to intellectual or developmental disabilities.
Ingram’s interest in information technology turned into a job with Goodwill’s E-recycle team in 2010. “I like working with computers,” he says. Ingram was able to further his computer skills, analyzing and refurbishing electronics donated to Goodwill.
When he decided the time was right, Ingram enrolled at J. Sargent Reynolds Community College. Goodwill continued to help Ingram on his journey to independence. His program manager talked with his college advisor to balance his class schedule, and helped Ingram create a transportation plan to get to class on time. Goodwill also helped Ingram find and get settled in his own apartment.
One of Ingram’s biggest responsibilities at the e-recycle store is erasing personal information from every device. “When people buy hard drives from Goodwill, they won’t see other people’s data,” he says. Goodwill uses a U.S. Department of Defense-grade program that wipes clean hard drives. Then it’s Ingram’s job to get the donations store-ready. “I make sure the keyboards, mice and speakers get on the sales floor.”
As with Goodwill’s other social enterprises, more than 85 percent of net revenues from its two e-recycle stores support the non-profit organization’s mission to create pathways to opportunities and success for individuals facing challenges to work.
Today, Ingram is studying for an associate’s degree in computer programming at J. Sargent Reynolds Community College. Despite his challenges, he was never going to give up. “Goodwill can help you get more training and a job in the field you want. Thanks to Goodwill, I feel very proud of myself.”