After serving three and a half years with the U.S. Marine Corps, Silas Edwards found himself homeless, unemployed and struggling with depression. Edwards battled chronic homelessness for many years before finding himself incarcerated. These factors, alongside underlying issues, made it virtually impossible for Edwards to retain employment to try to rebuild his life.

Edwards eventually began to find support through River City Comprehensive Counseling Services. After helping Edwards address the factors that led to his struggles, he was referred to Goodwill in October 2018 for comprehensive employment assistance and success coaching to start building a new life.

Edwards worked with Kerri Stidham, a job developer, and secured initial temporary employment with the hopes of becoming a full-time employee. Unfortunately, due to Edwards’ background, he was unable to progress to a permanent position. Responding quickly, Stidham was able to find Edwards a new role with Shippers Group as a forklift driver. The organization brought him on permanently and Edwards is now at a higher wage with benefits and the opportunity for career progression.

“When the first job didn’t work out I was upset,” said Edwards. “I talked to Kerri and she said, ‘It’s OK we are going to be all right, stay positive.’ I didn’t panic and worked through it with her help. Having that support from Goodwill is a blessing. Now I have a better job with more money.”

Edwards has rebuilt his life on a foundation of consistent employment and a positive support system. From finally regaining his driving license after 37 years, to owning a new vehicle, and even getting engaged, Edwards has achieved an incredible amount in the last year.

“(On top of everything) I got my teeth fixed just a few days ago, which had played a major part in me not smiling for over 20 years. Now I’m smiling from ear to ear,” said Edwards. “All the small things made such a difference in my life. Made me feel somewhat whole, a man if you will. And employment plays a major part in achieving that.”

Looking to the future, Edwards is happy to be able to vote again after having his voting rights restored, is saving to get married next fall and excited to travel with his fiancé.

“Silas impressed me from day one with his drive, dedication and commitment,” said Stidham, “He never missed a single day of work and always works with a smile on his face. You would never guess at the struggles he has gone through. He has accomplished so much in so little time for himself.”

To learn more about employment support and training opportunities with Goodwill, visit www.goodwillvirginia.org/get-job-ready.