Raised in a family of nurses, Glenda had always been expected to follow in her mother’s and sister’s footsteps. Instead, she had her first child at 18, and with no means to support him, applied for welfare. A few years later, she and her husband Derrick had eight more children. Glenda stayed home, took care of her kids, and lived off of “the system.” She got small jobs between pregnancies to help support her family’s increasing needs, but was never able to hold onto them.
Twelve years later, Glenda received a letter to attend Goodwill’s mandatory welfare-to-work program. She was scared. She was afraid of losing her benefits, afraid of how she was going to manage a job with her eight children, and had no transportation from Waianae. But Glenda realized welfare was not a permanent solution. She started using the childcare services and free bus service available to her.
Glenda always tended her own garden, and had wanted to work in a garden shop since she was a teen. She sent out many applications, but kept getting rejected.
After attending Goodwill’s job club to learn interviewing skills and the proper way to fill out an application, she was hired within two days at Kilgo’s as a customer service rep. After six months, Kmart hired her at the snack bar; and she got a second job waitressing at Chili’s. Slowly, her self-esteem and pride in work grew. She understood the value and freedom of earning her own paycheck. After six more months, she was granted an interview at Home Depot. During the interview, she told the employer that she would be the hardest working person on staff, and that she wanted more than anything to work in their garden shop. He was pleased by her persistence, and gave her the job. She was part of the opening team at the Pearl City Home Depot.
Glenda now works at Lowe’s in Waikele. She continues to visit Goodwill on her days off to tell her story at the agency’s new orientation for welfare recipients.
She swells with pride as she tells how she has learned to drive a forklift, and how she has learned so much at her new job from her customers, as well as her fellow employees and supervisor. She loves working with people, and looks forward to becoming a supervisor one day. She beams with joy as she speaks about how she purchased a car, and is now saving for a house; things she never even would have considered doing just three years ago.
Glenda looks forward to being a regular speaker at Goodwill’s orientations. She wants to motivate others, and inspire them to succeed by her example. She encourages them, saying, “This is not the end; it’s just the beginning”.