Taryn photo

Goodwill Helps Mom of Two Come Full Circle in Her Career

Taryn Rasmussen says being a mother is a job in itself. She always puts her kids first, but when she was unexpectedly laid off in October 2016, keeping food on the dinner table became the priority.

“I’m a single mom of two and a jack of all trades, but working late hours just wasn’t for me anymore. I wanted to get into the corporate world,” Rasmussen says. She applied for assistance through the Department of Social Services, and qualified for benefits from the Temporary Aid for Needy Families (TANF) program. The benefits helped her take care of her kids while looking for a job. “I wanted to find a ‘9 to 5’ that didn’t break me physically,” she says.

Because TANF recipients are required to work, volunteer or enroll in an education program for 35 hours each week, Rasmussen’s case manager referred her to Goodwill’s Transition to Independence and Employment (TIE) program. TIE provides TANF recipients with education, training and job seeker services to put them on the path to self-sufficiency.

“Initially, I thought Goodwill was just a retail store,” says Rasmussen. She later learned that proceeds from Goodwill’s retail stores fund employment programs and services for job seekers – at no charge to participants. One of those programs offers customer service training. It teaches participants soft and hard skills to excel in the industry, as well as provide credentials from the National Retail Federation.

The three-week class gave Rasmussen a lifetime’s worth of confidence. “Goodwill’s customer service classes counted as training hours and helped build my resume,” says Rasmussen. She can also add her earned customer service credential from the National Retail Federation to her resume. She also used Goodwill’s networking resources to learn about an open position within the organization.

Rasmussen was hired as a front desk receptionist at Goodwill’s Richmond Support Center in March 2017. She enjoyed working with people, and was one of the first faces they saw when they walk into Goodwill’s Richmond Community Employment Center. Between handling phone inquiries and greeting guests, she provided information on Goodwill’s vast network of services to more than 17,000 people a year.

“More than 95 percent of job seekers we serve are with employers other than Goodwill,” said Shawn Smith, Goodwill’s Director of Workforce Development. “With good timing and her customer service credentials, we were delighted to offer employment to Taryn right here.” Seven months later, Rasmussen’s journey came full circle after she attended a job fair for Owens & Minor, a Fortune 500 company. The Mechanicsville-based healthcare logistics company needed customer service representatives, and Rasmussen once again leveraged her customer service credential to land a new job. She is now a full-time client engagement associate.

Rasmussen wants her story to inspire others to help Goodwill continue its mission of creating pathways to opportunities and success for job seekers facing challenges to employment. When asked what helped her the most, Rasmussen says “Goodwill and God get all the praise.”

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