Some Success Stories



Ken, a well-known radio personality on Hawaii Island came to Goodwill for help after being unexpectedly furloughed from his job due to the pandemic. In spite of hisdisappointment, Ken decided to use the opportunity to explore another passion in life—taking care of the elderly. With Goodwill Hawaii’s support, Ken enrolled and received tuition assistance for CNA training which he completed in June. He’s now working on completing his Prometric state licensure exam and fulfilling additional hours at the nursing facility.

He said: “You ladies are a godsend, and this program is the hope that we all need during this time. I am glad to have completed my goal, and I’m excited to become a licensed CNA!”



Birolena and her husband were laid off from their jobs at a Waikoloa area hotel earlier this year; she as a housekeeper of five years and he as a landscaper. Like so many others, the couple had issues filing for unemployment benefits and became concerned about providing for themselves and their one-year old son after three months of no income. Birolena was disheartened by her financial situation and was tired of waiting for the possibility of being called back to work. She needed to find work and soon.

Birolena learned about Goodwill’s employment services after a chance encounter with her former classmate and Goodwill Hawaii employment counselor, Amanda, who scheduled them an appointment to enroll for help. With the goal of helping the pair find immediate employment, Amanda got right to work reviewing their employment interests and goals with them and helping to set up HireNet accounts, update their resumes and prepare with mock-interviews. With Amanda’s guidance and assistance, Birolena was able to land a job working as an Administrative Assistant at the Goodwill Hawaii office in Hilo.

“Thank you so much for helping me, it means the world to me,” Birolena said. Thank you for taking the time to talk to me that day at the park and for going through the hoops with me. I am forever grateful. Because of you all, I am employed and will be able to provide for my little family. You ladies and this program are a blessing!”



Davin reached out to Goodwill after being laid off from his job at a well-known Oahu restaurant back in March because of the pandemic. He had tried applying for unemployment benefits on his own but was denied and left to his own devices. With help from the Goodwill Hawaii team, Davin learned about the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program and successfully applied for and received over $7,000 in back pay. He’s been able to use the funds to cover his rent, food and replenish his savings that he used up during the first shutdown.



Siaosi was first referred to Goodwill Hawaii through his work furlough program. With support from Goodwill’s employment counselors, he attended workshops to help with anger and stress management, professional etiquette, interview coaching, job search skills and strategy, and resume building. He eventuallylanded a job with HBR Builders earning a steady paycheck.

But Siaosi was determined to do more with his life and earn a higher income. He was introduced to Goodwill Hawaii’s Career Readiness and Education Development (CRED) program. After meeting with a CRED employment counselor, Siaosi set his sights on paving his way toward a career in commercial driving. Siaosi’s first task was to earn his Commercial Driver’s License (CDL). Goodwill employment counselors assisted him to enroll, pay for and complete his CDL training. He passed his road test and got his CDL in September 2019. Additionally, his counselor assisted him with obtaining his Transportation Worker Identification (TWIC) card, unlocking access to job opportunities working with maritime facilities and vessels on the harbor. This particular identification requires a full security background check and opens up other avenues of employment.

Following his successful CDL and TWIC credentialing, Siaosi applied for and received offers from two local CDL employers and selected a position with Nan Inc. earning $20/hour a nearly 50% increase in pay from his previous job.

Siaosi said: “I paid my dues and am ready to come out and do what I’m supposed to do, which is to live a good life, work hard, and do the right things, like helping others, staying healthy, and eating well.” Keep up the great work Siaosi!

Tad and Justin


As participants in Goodwill’s Hoolana Program for Adults with Intellectual Disabilities, we were given the opportunity to obtain employment in the Retail Production Department. Our developmental disabilities have made it hard to find an employer who would give us a chance. Being able to contribute to Goodwill’s success has helped us build our confidence. We’ve also gained new skill sets to help us become more independent. Goodwill makes us feel like we can do anything we put our minds too. We love Goodwill because they treat us with respect and dignity.

Tad and Justin are participants in the Hoolana Program for Adults with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities. The program provides participants with the tools and support they need to aid in personal growth and achieve self-sufficiency.



Through Goodwill Hawaii’s Employment Core Services program, I was able to focus on my strengths and overcome any doubts or perceived shortcomings I had about myself. I had an 8th grade education level, a history of drug abuse, a prison record, and no job experience. I had no idea how to deal with life outside of prison. I hadn’t had a job in 10 years, and with the world changing so much, I was sorely lacking in my self-esteem and confidence. I am now 30 years old and learning how to do the simplest things in life. I am so appreciative to Goodwill for having faith in me and for believing in me. After completing my program, I had not one, but two job offers. I was so excited and proud of myself! I am now working full time, and cannot imagine what I would do without the guidance of my Goodwill counselor. I can honestly say that this program is an invaluable asset to the community.

Tina is a participant of our Employment Core Services for Reintegrating Individuals program. ECSRI works with ex-offenders to reintegrate back into society through gainful employment.



I joined Goodwill’s First-To-Work program after I was laid off from my previous employer and had to rely on public assistance to survive because I couldn’t keep up financially. I’m so grateful to Goodwill for helping me to find full-time employment in their Maui store. I’m now back to being self-sufficient and have also learned how to budget my money better in case difficult situations may arise again. Goodwill was my “cheerleader” when I had lost hope, inspiring me to have a positive attitude and to reach my goals.

Jeanell was a participant in the First-To-Work (FTW) program on Maui. FTW helps low income families transition off of public assistance through employment training, placement and ongoing support.



Dropping out of high school was not an easy decision, but I had made some bad choices in life which led me on this path. I never knew how hard it would be to find a job without my diploma. At Goodwill Hawaii, they taught me how to fill out job applications and prepared me for interviews by setting up mock interviews.

I was able to use Goodwill as an employment reference and my youth specialist encouraged me to follow up with each job application I submitted. I now work at least 30 hours a week and still attend Goodwill’s Ola I Ka Hana program in Honolulu, as I am studying to get my GED.

Christian is a participant in our Ola I Ka Hana program on Oahu. This program mentors youth to achieve their educational and career goals.



At Goodwill’s First-To-Work Program in West Oahu, I received the tools necessary for me to obtain and maintain secure employment. I was struggling to find work as a single mother of two. I had never worked in the United States before and did not know where to start. Goodwill helped me find the courage to start applying and interviewing for jobs by teaching me the process of what I needed to do to get a job. At first, I was hesitant to be on my own, but now I know that I can always find the support I need at Goodwill. Thanks to Goodwill, I am now working and able to take care of my two children.

Melody is a participant in our First-To-Work (FTW) program in West Oahu. FTW helps low income families transition off of public assistance through employment training, placement and ongoing support.



With a new baby on the way, I needed to find a full-time job to be able to support my family. No one would hire me because of my lack of work experience. My previous jobs were all temporary.

I came to Goodwill and through the First-To-Work program enrolled in Job Readiness Trainings where I learned how to create a strong resume, search for jobs, and interview well. I was also able to gain work experience and new job skillsets volunteering with Habitat for Humanity. After completing my volunteer work, I applied for a full-time position at Habitat for Humanity and got it. I’m now proud to be able to provide for my family financially and am no longer a TANF recipient.

Marcus is a participant in our First-to-Work (FTW) program on Maui. FTW helps low income families transition off of public assistance through employment training, placement and ongoing support.