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Ellen's Story

All Ellen wanted to do in life was to find a job where she could "help people" and "make a difference". Ellen previously had difficulty maintaining a job, and had to "overcome a lot" including medical issues and physical limitations in order to reenter the workforce. When she was ready, she was referred to Goodwill from the NYS Department of Education's ACCES -VR program to receive the training and support she needed.

While training at Goodwill, Ellen's case manager learned about her artistic abilities, and Ellen was able to put her talents to work by creating an art therapy program for Goodwill clients. Classes included sewing, painting and silk screening, repurposing items donated to Goodwill. Ellen will tell you the classes were not just about art. They were about "showing people what they are capable of doing".

When the pandemic began and classes were cancelled, Ellen struggled with what her next steps to employment would be. She reached out to her case manager and began working on her computer skills, and completed her employment training virtually. While working on her interview skills and through role play, she built confidence and coping skills and finally felt she could "be an asset" to an employer.

That employer turned out to be Goodwill. Ellen found out about an opportunity at Goodwill's West Seneca store where she interviewed and landed a job as a sales associate. She loves her job and incorporates her artistic and creative skills as she "helps shoppers put outfits together", and shares DIY and repurposing ideas while providing excellent customer service.

Ellen will tell you, "You can do what you put your mind to. I'm just so happy to be contributing and helping people.”


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