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Success Story Friday: Acena

September 24, 2010

When Acena left her home in New York, the longtime social worker also had to leave behind a job she loved so much.

“I was terrified I wasn’t going to do the same work again. I absolutely loved working with people,” Acena says.

Acena, 39, moved to Charlotte for a change in her life in 2006. But that change didn’t come easy. She was soon confronted with fact that getting a job in a new city would be difficult. A year of job hunting went by with no success. Supporting three kids and four other family members, Acena knew finding a job was critical.

When she found Goodwill online and enrolled in the agency’s six-week Hospitality and Tourism class, she gained more than just job training skills.

“Goodwill actually made me feel like I had some place to come when I was in need,” Acena says. “It was like another place I could call home. Like a family.”

A month after graduating from the class, Acena received a job offer at the Doubletree Charlotte Airport Hotel as a Hilton Honors Manager. As the nighttime manager, she worked the front desk, maintained the rewards program and handled customer issues. She worked there for two-and-a-half years before landing a job at the place that had given her a second chance – Goodwill.

Since May 2010, Acena has been with Goodwill as the Program Support Specialist as part of the Occupational Skills Training program. With her background in social work, Acena’s new job allows her to help trainees like she once was.

“I am overwhelmed with joy and am ecstatic about having the opportunity to be back here,” Acena adds. “It’s an absolutely wonderful experience.”

After her Goodwill training, Acena now has the means to pay her bills and provide for her children – LaQuisha, Cheniya and Kyris. She is currently working on her bachelor’s degree in business management at the University of Phoenix, which she will finish in March 2011.

“Goodwill helped re-motivate myself. It gave me the courage to start a new job,” Acena adds. “Goodwill for me was the best thing I could have done. It lifted my spirits when I was down.”

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