Yessinia Martinez


 

I used to be a teenager heading down the wrong path. But when I found out about Woods Mill High School and Goodwill of North Georgia, my life turned to a positive path. Growing up, I lived in extreme poverty in a non-English speaking household, with a single parent. There was hunger and long periods of unemployment. While trying to find my way I made some bad decisions, like drug use, risky behaviors, and low school attendance. At the age of 15, I found myself homeless and forced to become an adult.
 

It was then that someone at my local church allowed me to sleep in her living room in exchange for caring for her young children. I was grateful but still I struggled to reach my personal goals. I was failing high school and still resided in an unsafe neighborhood. The police visited their neighborhood regularly, and there was gang activity, violent fights and even a murder. Sometimes I slept on the floor of the home to avoid crossfire from the gunshots I heard outside.
 

While coping with these conditions, I heard about a new opportunity at a new, non-traditional high school named Wood’s Mill Academy. My enrollment into Woods Mill introduced me to Goodwill of North Georgia's Youth Employment Services Program through a partnership with the school. Goodwill provided career development, soft skills training, and employment opportunities to opportunity youth at the school site. I quickly signed up and began attending job readiness classes. Before the program, I wasn’t motivated to find a job. I didn’t believe in myself.

That year I recognized new hope and opportunity. I rediscovered my goal to attend college and become an elementary school teacher. I got a job working with children at the local YMCA.
 

I received my diploma and plan to enroll for the Fall 2012 semester at Georgia Perimeter College. I also completed a Leadership certificate through the GALEO Institute for Leadership and the University of Georgia Fanning Institute. I have found a school and work balance that allows me to meet my goals. My new income has enabled me to improve my family and living circumstances. I’m committed to giving back to the community and I’m interested in helping young people who face similar barriers. I was honored to be selected as a Capitol Hill Speaker this year and a scholarship will allow me to share my story and advocate for youth.

Program Participant Stories

Michael Paywala


 More...


Meet Deborah


 More...


Ivory Flemister-Reid


 More...


Hung Luc


 More...


William Jefferson


 More...


Jorge Ramos


 More...


Kerrie Christian


 More...


Lloyd Cutter


 More...


Michael Wylie


 More...


Edith Lopez


 More...


Lloyd Foster


 More...


Kevin Thomas


 More...


Claudia Barrera


 More...


Charlie Cranford


 More...


Diarra Davis


 More...


Willie Anthony


 More...


Anthony Davis


 More...


Robert Kemp


 More...


Calmer Kentle


 More...


Stephen Wallace


 More...


James Dorsey


 More...


Rosita Aranad


 More...


Don Curtis Brumley


 More...


Ashley Parker


 More...


Monique Armstrong


 More...


Allison Lawhorne


 More...


Kevin Brown


 More...


Aurelio Santiago


 More...


LaShafphia Felder


 More...


Trinithia Beasley


 More...


Cheryl Johnson


 More...


Yessinia Martinez


 More...


Randall Harris


 More...


Jaime Warengo


 More...


Angela Stewart


 More...


Henry Moore


 More...


Robby Harmon


 More...


Jacson Moore


 More...


Solara Sain


 More...


Kristanecia King


 More...