In February 2019, Eduardo Southerland’s GVRA counselor referred him to Goodwill’s Oakwood Career Center. The Flowery Branch native graduated from North Hall High School in 1998 and spent the next 18 years working for The Gainesville Times, where he mailed newspapers to subscribers. After leaving the newspaper, Eduardo spent a year as a bagger at Publix. As 2018 drew to a close, he was interested in pursuing employment with better compensation.

Eduardo, an autistic individual, enrolled in the work adjustment program which provided a good opportunity for him to develop his social skills. He performed very well during his training and by April 2019 expressed a desire for retail employment outside of Goodwill. Upon graduation from Goodwill’s training program that June, Eduardo began working on his job search with Employment Specialist Nicole Hardin.

Nicole assisted Eduardo with completing applications and served as his advocate at interviews. By mid-September, an interview at Ollie’s was arranged. Eduardo performed so well that a second interview was scheduled in November, and following that, he was offered a tagger position. He joined the Ollie’s team in early December at a wage of $8.50 per hour. As a tagger, Eduardo places price stickers on merchandise as it comes off the truck. This important step prepares the merchandise to be placed on the sales floor.

Now employed for almost two years, Eduardo shares that he really enjoys working at Ollies. The managers appreciate his dedication to doing his job to the best of his ability and always being early to every shift. As a result of his exemplary performance, he’s taken on different tasks including bagging, recovery, housekeeping, and accompanying the manager to the bank. He also received a $1 per hour raise in Spring 2020.

In collaboration with his Ollie’s managers, the Goodwill team diligently assists Eduardo as he pursues his dream of remaining employed with Ollie’s. Eduardo continues to stay in touch with his Employment Job Coach, Missy Eiler, who has worked with him on establishing healthy boundaries, and he remains particularly grateful to Nicole Hardin for her guidance and support in helping him secure this opportunity.