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Goodwill helps high school graduate find long-term employment

“Goodwill helped me set goals for myself,” said Jeremiah Mayo who, at 19, is working his first professional full-time job. His journey to success started when he walked into a Goodwill retail store in January 2017.

“I got tired of working in fast food restaurants, so I stopped by the Midlothian Crossing Goodwill to fill out an application,” said Mayo. “An associate told me about Goodwill’s community employment center, so I went to check it out,” Mayo said. Once there, he met with Kerri Stidham, a Workforce Solutions Partner with a staffing agency that Goodwill operates called Goodwill Staffing Solutions (GSS). “Jeremiah didn’t have a long work history, but he told me he knew he could do more as an employee,” said Stidham, who quickly saw his potential.

Mayo was hopeful someone would give a person his age a chance. “It’s hard when you start working straight out of high school and don’t have a college degree. I needed an opportunity to tell a company ‘Let me show you what I’m capable of because I can work really hard,’” he said.

Stidham agreed. “Young people are the ones who are building the future. We have to prepare and empower them so they can advance their communities,” she said. Within a few days, Stidham found a job opportunity for Mayo. “I talked to one of my clients, Conner Industries in Chester, which makes crates and pallets. I believed Jeremiah’s production skills would translate well to a general labor position,” said Stidham.

“Jeremiah is an employee who stands out to me,” said Sally Arndt, office administrator for Conner Industries. She and her company have partnered with GSS for nearly a year. “Jeremiah has an awesome personality. He started with us when he was 18 years old and he does a great job every day,” said Arndt.

She believes young people bring an energy to the workplace that can benefit everyone. “We have older employees who mentor the younger ones so they can teach them the industry and show them how to take it seriously. Plus, their endurance, their outlook on life – their presence keeps us all young,” she said.

Stidham also helped prepare Mayo to sustain long-term employment. As a social enterprise of Goodwill, GSS leverages the non-profit organization’s workforce development programs, which include education, training and job readiness programs a no charge to job seekers.

“I highly recommend job seekers take advantage of our “GoodPrep” program, which teaches everything from resume writing, interviewing, how to best present yourself to employers and developing good interpersonal skills,” said Stidham.

Conner Industries initially hired Mayo for a temporary position as a material handler, and 90 days later, Mayo was promoted to a permanent position with benefits. “You can make it on your own, but you have to show that you can produce results,” advises Mayo. “Having a job helped me learn how to be accountable and manage my money. Kerri kept motivating me and I’m grateful. I am at a young age, but I’m setting myself up for the long run,” he said.

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