Vietnam veteran Gary Lucas enjoyed his life in Florida. The sunshine state allowed him to spend time on its beautiful beaches when he wasn’t working on his home improvement business he had built over the years. Duty called when his sister in Atlanta needed him to assist with her care, and like the good soldier he was, loyalty and service won the day and he made the move to Georgia.

Upon settling in the metro area, Gary found the job search to be a challenge. When the Department of Labor Veterans representative referred him to Goodwill’s Veterans Outreach Coordinator Carl Walker, he had a feeling that things were about to turn around. Working with Carl, Gary was able to take advantage of a Marcus Foundation grant and he entered the Job Readiness Training program in September 2018.

Goodwill’s Case Manager Melissa Stockard says that Gary immediately demonstrated leadership skills and quickly stepped in to serve as a mentor to others. When Gary was placed at Goodwill’s Pleasant Hill store, he stood out through his desire to acquire knowledge in all areas of production – from the donor door to the sales floor. He became known for his cooperative nature and his commitment to teamwork.

Gary smiles when he recalls the many Goodwill team members who helped him, noting that Carl still calls him to check in. “Goodwill stands for good,” he says. He shares his gratitude for the organization’s dedication to helping people who have lost their way. “Without Goodwill, I would not have been able to find direction as well as I did, and I would not have had access to resources and people who helped me through the process of preparing for employment,” he says.

After completing his training program in January 2019, Gary landed a job with Spectra Flooring in Norcross, and he’s already up for a promotion. He credits the knowledge he gained about understanding the expectations of your employer as a critical component of his success. As an advocate of Goodwill, Gary also shared his journey at Goodwill’s northeast region graduation ceremony.

Although there are times when Gary still misses the sunshine and palm trees of Florida, he’s thankful for the opportunities he’s had since connecting with Goodwill, and he plans to remain focused and persistent as he builds his new life. He urges others to take advantage of chances to grow, because it is never too late for another beginning.