View stories from people who have overcome challenges and created success in their personal and work lives.

Lonnie - First in his family to go to college

I never had any intentions for higher education. A high school diploma would have been great, and I was just going to go to the workforce. I really didn't know anything about college. I was from a pretty low income family so I really didn't have the money to go to college.

So First Generation College Bound opened that door for me. They showed me all about you know, the financial aid. The first time appearing on college and seeing all those mountains, I cried like a little baby. I mean, I always try to be the tough guy, but when I first got to that college campus, I cried, and I cried, and I cried.

And I'm so glad that they sent me away from here because when I came back a lot of the friends that I grew up with, a lot of those guys were incarcerated. I got a sociology degree, but it didn't put any limitations on me. I've been at IBM for 13 years in the sales and technology field.

I was the first in my family to attend a 4-year university. But now as I look over the years, I have several family members that went beyond their 4-year degree; went beyond the bachelor's, got doctorals, got master's degrees. So, I was just like a springboard for my family.

Don't worry about what your mom did, or your dad did, and don't force yourself to any major because once you come out of college, it's just not a job, it's a career.

In your career, you want to be happy every morning you wake up. Do what's right for you. Do what you feel that you are led to.

Gabby - Found support for a better future

I did run away from home. I was doing drugs and trying to make money illegally. And I wasn't attending school, or I would attend school and I'd ditch. I actually did feel like I was nobody, like I was worthless.

My own family was distant from me. And that hurt so much, to not have people to be there for me to run to. And it really did make me want to end my life.

I was in my junior year of high school and I had a counselor there who's just telling me there's a lot of places out there that can help me. The mentor I had, he was great. He actually helped me a lot. He showed me that I could be somebody, that I'm not just another statistic.

Having that authority figure and that person who you know that doesn't need to care about you but does, made it so much easier for me to open up to him and to allow him to be a big part of my life. Now, I feel more proud. I'm able to put my name out there and not feel ashamed.

I'm proud to go home and have my mom and dad tell me that they're grateful that I'm doing what I'm doing. It makes them see that I've done a full 360. I graduated from high school and now I'm getting ready to go to college.

I'm going to major in architectural design and drafting. I want to be able to build homes for people who are low income, but give them the dream home they've always wanted.

Find out what it takes to make your job search a success

Alex: I was just looking for a career opportunity.  The resume writing process really opened up the door to being able to apply and you know, really show what I was worth. 

Katerina: I wasn't really sure how to do a resume. So it showed me how to do a resume. I learned how to do that online. Like what to wear to an interview and like jewelry and makeup. Because sometimes some jewelry you wear, it stands out and the people that are interviewing you can get distracted from it.

Jamie: It takes a lot of practice with interviewing and networking. You aren't necessarily born with confidence. It's something that you learn over time. And the more and more you do it, the more confident you get with networking, or applying for different jobs, or interviewing with different companies.

Rickel: I'm more active in the community than I was before, but I wanted something that would help me go into a career and I wanted to meet people I can network with.

Nicholas: You know, you give yourself a pat on the shoulder and you just keep going and you say, the next day I'll keep doing it and I'll get to where I need to go.

Alex: It took me a while to find a job. I saved up some money and managed to get my own place. And I'm able to wake up and go to work every day and provide for myself. And it's a good thing.

Ashley - Found stability and a career after homelessness

It was me and my son living with my mom and we occupied two rooms at her house. I was no longer able to pay her the full amount of rent. I had to let my job go because I was a high-risk pregnancy. I took it upon myself to go ahead and leave her home because I didn't want to put her at a disadvantage.

I went ahead and I applied into the shelter. And it was scary to me because I didn't know what the next step would be. If I would get an apartment. If I would be there forever!

I think my lowest moment was the first day I got there and I actually had seen the living conditions that I would be subjected to: One room, two beds, a refrigerator, a microwave. So it was a total 360 from what I was used to.

I heard about the program through my worker at the homeless shelter and I literally like jumped at the opportunity. A pharmacy technician is usually - I think it's a year you take the course in, if it was at a regular school. So a twelve-week accelerated program is very, very intense.

CVS has given me a lot of skills. I love that I have a license I can take wherever with me and know that it's mine. I worked for it. I really worked hard for it and it definitely, definitely gave me a road map to a better living.

I can't ask for anything more. I have a job. I have my own apartment. I have two healthy kids. I'm healthy. I'm not stressed about anything. I'm here. I'm awesome.

Alex - Getting An Internship

I did have a job, but it was in fast food and that's not my favorite thing to do in the world.

I actually discovered the youth program in high school. One of the representatives came to my class. They give you a bunch of information on how to write the correct email or letter and they teach you how to become an adult in the real world.

She was talking to us about all these other opportunities just around town and it really was like, whoa, I can do anything that's available?

My ability was the computers. They were like, you said you were interested in computers. We're going to set you in up in the IT department if that's OK with you.

They told me that, and I was like, really? That's amazing! That's exactly what I wanted to do!

I was like, a six-week thing; that will give me a good experience before college and make sure this is really what I want to do.

During the six weeks, I worked for the county IT department. There's a lot more aspects to the IT than I thought of.

So I went from wanting to, just helping people, to being able to create my own devices to help people. I know now not to focus towards that path of education to instead go to more the engineering instead of the customer service.

This program took me to the point where I go from a kid to an adult and I'm now three years ahead of the people who didn't know what to do. They told me what to expect, how to react, what to do, when to do it, and the proper way to do it.

Cat - From foster system to successful adult

I was raised in foster care from the time I was born up until I turned eighteen years old. Many challenges I have had to overcome. When I was a teenager I started off doing drugs, about seventeen actually, I was still a teenager, I entered a life of prostitution, a life I had no clue of where I was going.

About a year later I got pregnant with my first child. Even then I did not know who I was or where I was going, or what I was facing. It has been a very difficult path. But as my daughter got a little bit older I realized that it wasn't the life that I wanted to live, it wasn't the life that I wanted to show her, and that she deserved better.

Last year, in the summer, I ran into someone giving out flyers to Metro. So, me being that I wanted to change my life I decided to see what that was like. Walking in there was very scary. But as I walked in there, and the people, they made me feel so comfortable. I knew that right then that I would be successful.

Metro has helped me in many different ways, and I'm so happy to be where I am today. Thank you to Metro. They have helped me with job training. They have helped me to learn about myself and how to be out in the world to deal with people in a professional environment.

I have many accomplishments, thank you very much to Metro. I had no job, I had no car, I was homeless. And today I have three jobs, and I have a car, and I have a home. It's amazing where God has brought me.

Every year since she's been born - she's now four - every year I've been on the go, or we were just not financially stable, or we didn't have a home to put up a tree. So this year we had our own home and she had her first Christmas tree and she was able to decorate that tree. And the look on her face was priceless, it was very priceless. She had a wonderful Christmas.

My goal is to own a group home, and I will do so. There are people, kids, teenagers who need me. I have been in many situations, I've been in the system myself, where I have encountered people that don't know what it takes to help a person like myself, and I will be that person. So that's my bigger goal.

Johnny - Career goals to move forward

Challenge I had was not going to school, skipping, hanging with the wrong crowd. Just not getting along with my parents, not getting along with my family. Leaving, going outside. Just everything that was not good, thinking it was cool. How I got a juvenile background was, you know, basically following that negative behavior.

Right now I'm assistant manager at the Popcorn Bar on Weslayan and West University and it's very exciting, you know, and I enjoy the responsibility and it makes me feel like I have a meaning in life and, you know something positive to do.

I've received more than just a paying job. I gained a family who listens to my problems and really cares about what I'm going through. Mostly I receive self-respect, leadership, confidence, communication, positive thinking. With these tools I can finally picture myself with my goals in life.

Goodwill does change life through the power of work.

Stefan - Work experience to build his career

How you doing? My name is Stefan Ratcliff, and I want to talk to ya'll about some of the barriers and the outcomes, and positive things that have happened to me.

One day I was just sitting at home, I did not know what road I was going to take, or where my life was heading. One day I got a call from Chane Patricks about a job, I immediately called him back and he told me to come to the office. I came to the office and filled out some paperwork.

First they helped me get my ID, helped me get a social security card, and helped me start my own bank account, and they sent me to this job as an intern at IWA, it's a welding school. So I was interning over here for like 8 weeks, and they said – 8 weeks - if I do good, they'll extend me for another 8 weeks. So it was like about 5 of us who came, and I was the only one who stayed with it. So, they hired me on.

Now at IWA, I cut pipe, cut plate. They have me enrolled in some of the IWA welding classes. I got about 4 certificates. I just want to give a shout out to them for supporting me, and being with me all the way, helping me get back on my feet.

Joel - Dealt with drug abuse and a criminal record

Hello, my name is Joel. I am 18 years old. About four years ago, I saw my life take a downward spiral out of control.

I began to abuse drugs and I was arrested several times. This led to me being committed to a Department of Juvenile Justice residential treatment facility.

Upon my release to the community, I enrolled in AMIkids Miami Dade and participated in the Department of Labor Face Forward 2 Vocational Training program. I earned a certification in SafeStaff and NCCER. This helped me get prepared for employment and get a job.

Now, I am a high school graduate and work at a Subway and a construction agency. I plan on attending college to study to become a physical therapist. I am grateful for this wonderful opportunity - thank you for saving my life!

Antoine - From poverty to parenthood and a career

My name is Antoine Wilhite, better known as Twan. I'm going to give you a little biology of me, and where I come from. I was pretty much born in the city of St Louis, the north side to be exact. Off Hebron and Shreen.  If you don't know exactly where I'm talking about, just think of a third world country. That's exactly what I'm coming from. Where it's just drugs, violence, poverty, you don't live to make to see 25.

Luckily, god blessing me, I'll make to see it on September 4 I'll be 25. But I just already struggled where I come from. A lot of my friends they're dead or in jail, or just – you don’t want to know them, they’re addicts. I just went through a struggle getting to where I'm at. I've got 3 kids – 2 little boys and a girl – who I'd do anything for.

Coming from that to where I'm at now, it's a blessing. I got two good careers, a new car. I'm on my way up. So, just thanks for the opportunity. I met people like Mike, took good care of me through the MERS Goodwill Foundation. Rebecca, and people like that - like Slate. They really help me, I really like it. I didn't think I was going to make it this far.

Any chance of any opportunity, don't ever be closed minded and always have the best attitude moving forward.