Allison Lawhorne and her mother standing in front of the Ava White AcademyMeet Allison Lawhorne

Tucked behind a big, white church is a new building that houses a student who has blossomed into a mentor. For this student – Allison Lawhorne – the road to mentorship proved challenging and unconventional.

Lawhorne’s steep climb to success began four years into public school when she discovered she had a learning disability. Shortly afterward she left the public school system for homeschool where she and her mother focused on less-traditional subjects, including service work and character development.

Lawhorne’s focus changed in 2006. Despite her many opportunities to give back to her community, she wanted to finish school and obtain her GED. Her goal was to contribute to her hometown as a professional, not just a volunteer. She turned to the Georgia Vocational Rehabilitation Agency for guidance, and the agency referred her to the Goodwill Oakwood Career Center.

Through Goodwill’s Workforce Development Program, Lawhorne was able to get some of the hands-on work experience she needed to land a good job. “They let me work in their store and let me get my feet wet in the working world,” she says. “They offered work evaluation and helped me with résumés, interviews and work ethic.”

While Lawhorne was in Workforce Development, her mother found the Ava White Academy – a school for students who have challenges learning – and shared her new find with her daughter. It was a great fit for her. “I had a desire to work with kids with special needs since I had struggled with my math learning,” Lawhorne says. “I understand how kids with special needs struggle.” She began work as an assistant at the school, and so far the job is a perfect match.