Patriece Fountain was on move number seven when she and her family came to Hampton Roads in October 2017. As a military spouse, this was nothing new. While constant relocation was something she could manage, the effect it had on her employment was beyond her control.
“My work history was spotty. It seemed on paper as if I was always getting fired or quitting jobs and that’s not the case,” said Fountain. “I have over of 10 years of administrative and customer service experience. I spent two years mentoring youth in a group home as a program director.” Nonetheless, gaps in employment had proven tough to explain to potential employers.
“My husband enlisted in the Air Force in 1999 and is approaching 20 years of service,” she added. As a supportive military wife and mother to their two children, getting jobs on a stop-and-go basis was a sacrifice she had to make. “It’s hard to convey that on a resume,” said Fountain.
After settling herself and her family, Fountain began her job search in Coastal Virginia. While shopping in Goodwill’s Newport News store, her daughter saw a flyer for Goodwill’s Community Employment Center (CEC). “The cashier explained that the center helps people find jobs,” said Fountain. Within days she visited the CEC with her resume and met with the center manager, Tammy Peterson. When Petersen saw her resume, she paused to ask, “Are you military?” Peterson, also a military spouse, empathizes with Fountain’s story.
“I immediately recognized a resume from a military spouse,” said Petersen “because I was one for many years before my husband retired. I knew Patriece would be successful, so the moment something opened up at Goodwill I reached out.”
Fountain was hired as a career assistant and promoted six months later to career advisor. “From day one she brought value to the team by sharing ideas to make the role more organized and efficient,” Petersen added. “She has an infectious smile and is a natural leader.”
Earlier this year Goodwill achieved the Virginia Values Veterans designation from the Commonwealth of Virginia. As part of Goodwill’s commitment to those who have served, Goodwill also offers a Veterans Resource Group whose members serve as a resource to other veterans as they transition to the civilian workforce at Goodwill. Goodwill’s Director of Risk Management, Bill Forbes, leads the group. Having served six years in the Air Force, Forbes feels that military spouses add enormous value to a team. “They’re the ones that keep households running, children taken care of and commit to a life of relocation. They know what sacrifice is and what it means to put others first,” he said.
“Sometimes all it takes is an employer willing to ask the right questions of a military spouse to highlight their transferable skills,” Forbes noted “If given the opportunity, spouses are often some of the best workers an employer will have on the team.”
Now empowering new job seekers with career paths of their own, Fountain sees Goodwill as a connecting point to serve a great purpose. “It is my calling in life to help others with an open mind and more importantly, an open heart,” she said.
Goodwill’s Veterans Resource Group hosted Capt. Jim Giudice on Nov. 9 to discuss how employers can decipher military experience on resumes and during job interviews, and also apply veterans’ skills to civilian positions. Guidice is a business attorney with the Williams Mullen law firm and a captain in the U.S. Marine Corps who continues to serve in the reserves.