Join us in celebrating the incredible people who make up our Goodwill teams. This week, meet Elana Simms, Retail Lead Associate at the Alverser store in Midlothian.
I am a proud native of Richmond, Virginia. From childhood summers breathing in the sprawling green fields of King William County, to autumnal walks in the cobblestone streets of Shockoe Bottom during my college years, I have such treasured memories of home in Central Virginia. But after graduating from Virginia Commonwealth University (Go, Rams!) in the spring of 2000, I decided to spread my wings and venture away from familiarity, accepting an internship in the Features Department of a major metropolitan newspaper in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. What began as a 12-week internship turned into an 18-year career as a copy editor, community religion reporter and editor, associate news editor and deputy opinion editor.
The vast melting pot that is South Florida exposed me to the music, foods and languages of many rich cultures; so much so that I came away with a knack for speaking the Spanish and Hebrew languages. And the newsroom is where I marked many historical events of the last 20 years – from the tragic fall of the Twin Towers to the election of this great nation’s first African-American president.
After almost 20 years as a journalist, I yielded to the pull to return home and care for family, and that’s where Goodwill comes in. In life, transition is not easy, but my career adviser at the Midlothian Turnpike Community Employment Center helped boost my confidence and gave my resume the edge it needed as I waded into a sea of job seekers – two decades removed from the maze of cover letters, interview processes and online applications. And it was at a Goodwill job fair that I secured my current job as a Retail Lead Associate for Goodwill.
I am overjoyed to have joined an organization that encourages growth and upward mobility, and whose mission is to help residents of Richmond – my home – and beyond rebuild their lives through the power of work. Job seekers, help is available! And it’s evident, through my experience, that our Community Employment Center associates are invested in and rooting for your success. There is no greater feeling than taking a leap of faith, spreading your wings and finding that you can fly.