A Second Chance

Krystle Ives grew up in the restaurant business, working in her family’s New Orleans soul food establishment from the time she was a young child. Like many people living in that area, Krystle’s family was displaced by Hurricane Katrina, and made their way to Atlanta to start anew.

Krystle found her work home at McDonald’s and quickly began her ascent through the company. By the time she was 19, she was managing five stores, and she went on to complete a business management degree.

Life took an unfortunate turn, however, when Krystle found herself associating with the wrong people. The results of these relationships landed her at Lee Arrendale State Prison. As the end of her sentence drew closer, Krystle was invited to participate in Goodwill’s Culinary Program.

This was just the opportunity she needed to return to the right path.

While many of the skills taught each day were already familiar to Krystle, she says that she learned much more than a few new cooking techniques – she learned to trust again, and she learned that she would be able to have a life after prison.

Krystle exclaims that she loves the whole staff at Goodwill — every team member at Cornelia played a role in her experience. The welcoming, non-judgmental environment was incredibly important to her. In particular, she appreciated that she wasn’t treated differently because of her criminal background.

As she progressed through the program, she was placed at the Clarkesville Huddle House, one of Goodwill’s partners. Just like years before, Krystle quickly made herself indispensable, and as she was nearing graduation in December 2017, the manager offered her a position. Starting as a cook and then taking on any role or traveling to any other store needing help, she learned all aspects of the business.

When the August 2018 date for her release neared, the manager made it clear he wanted her to stay – and made her manager of the store. “I feel good when I walk in and see my name on the glass,” she beams. Her store is number one in the nation, evidence of her talent and leadership acumen.

Besides managing the store that has been noted as the best of the best, there’s much that she loves about the job. The fast pace and diversity of the day-to-day experience allow her ability to work well under pressure shine through. She enjoys meeting new people every day and has many regulars who have become a second family. “The people make it worth it,” she shares without hesitation.

Krystle shares her story to other Goodwill program participants.

Thankful for her time at Goodwill, which taught her patience, understanding and compassion, she is committed to paying it forward and is dedicated to giving opportunities to others. Krystle uses her success to help those in need, encouraging them to move forward, pursue education and want better for themselves. She actively partners with Goodwill providing internships and permanent employment for the women currently enrolled in the Culinary program and frequently returns to the Cornelia Career Center to speak to participants.