A native of Fulton County, Veronica Lightburn graduated from Arabian Mountain High School and began her college studies at Oglethorpe University.
Unfortunately, rising tuition costs prevented Veronica from completing her degree, and she began bouncing around in call center and other customer service roles. During this time, she became more interested in technology and had thought about learning to code, although the idea terrified her.
Aleese Ingram, a lifelong resident of Snellville, has always had a passion for sports. Upon graduation, she enrolled at Kennesaw State University with plans to major in business. In May 2021, a friend alerted Aleese to a Facebook post promoting Goodwill’s summer internship opportunity with the Atlanta Falcons and Atlanta United, made possible by the Bank of America grant.
When the COVID-19 pandemic struck, Akin lost his sales job in the transportation industry. His ensuing job search proved unsuccessful, so he decided to move his family to Georgia. Settling in Douglasville, he began looking for work and spent six months completing applications and going on interviews to no avail.
Although her educational background was in the arts, April Dean Hunter always had a passion for science fiction and artificial intelligence. During her years as an administrative assistant, her interest in computers grew and she began teaching herself web development. As her knowledge of IT increased, April considered a shift to a technology career because the industry is characterized by flexibility. Goodwill helped her make the move to the IT industry.
SNAP referral Deja Trotter came to Goodwill in September 2019 because she was determined to become a welder. During her initial days in training, while she was assisting with administrative tasks, she told Case Manager Candace Davis that she hoped to be chosen for the Welding program, as she knew it would change her life.
When Octavious saw an ad about Goodwill’s Technology Careers Program, he decided to visit the Smyrna Career Center to learn more. With his career path taking more twists and turns than he anticipated, he thought pursuing this program would lead him in a new direction – and the program seemed tailor-made for him.
Gainesville resident Alexa Resendiz came to Goodwill’s Oakwood Career Center in August 2021, just a few months before her 19th birthday. She had completed high school in July and was ready to enter the workforce to earn money to help her family. Alexa shared with Case Manager Alex Balla that she wanted to overcome her shyness and build self-esteem. She also needed to find a job that would allow her to be home in the mid-afternoon so that she could watch her younger siblings while her parents were still at work.
Lawrenceville native Tony Ekeweme is a graduate of Central Gwinnett High School and Georgia State University. An industrious young man, he worked at Georgia State during college and when he completed his degree, he secured a production management position at Ricoh Electronics.
Tony’s experience next led him to Hewlett Packard Enterprise where he handled inventory. During this time, he concluded that his interest in business operations called for more in-depth knowledge.
“In 2010, I walked into the South DeKalb Goodwill Career Center as a jobless 18-year-old father,” shares Quandarious Brinkley. Those fateful steps began an 11-year journey with Goodwill. In what he describes as a truly amazing experience, thinking back to that day, he could never have imagined the impact Goodwill would have on his life.
Snellville native Katherine Dobbs had been living in Florida with her husband when the COVI0-19 pandemic hit. As a result of the pandemic both her and her husband loss of their jobs. They decided to returned to Gwinnett County and settled in Grayson in October 2020.
Gainesville’s Nathan Oliver joined the Marines right out of high school. He served for about six years, which included a combat tour in Iraq.
Veterans often have challenges as they readjust, and Nathan’s issues unfortunately resulted in incarceration. Upon his release, he was referred to Goodwill by the Veterans Court.