Success Story: Lajonté
Gaining professional skills at Goodwill has been a family affair for Lajonté Grier and some of his relatives. His grandmother completed Goodwill’s Hospitality & Tourism training a few years ago and his cousin has been employed by Goodwill. When Lajonté found himself out of a job last year, he decided to follow in their footsteps and seek assistance with his employment search at Goodwill.
Lajonté describes himself as having led a “rough life.” As a child, he floated in and out of group homes and received little encouragement to stay in school, much less identify career goals for the future. An uncle who worked in the construction business offered to help Lajonté gain some work experience by having him assist on odd jobs. “I was able to get some experience through these jobs, but I lacked the technical expertise,” explains Lajonté.
At Goodwill he learned that he could participate in a seven-week Construction Skills Training program to bolster his resume. Over the course of the program, Lajonté admits that he had to overcome certain fears of being back in a classroom and credits “being consistent and being bold” to helping him get the most out of the specialized training. A key turning point came when his class worked on a Habitat for Humanity project and installed 500 solar panels on houses to make them more energy-efficient. “That gave me confidence that I could do the work and do it well,” he says. “Now I not only knew how to use the tools properly, but I also felt comfortable as a leader in helping others learn.”
Lajonté’s leadership skills did not go unnoticed by his classmates and at graduation he received the “Team Player” award from his peers. While honored to receive the award, Lajonté says his work is far from over. He plans to take GED classes offered by Goodwill this year to continue his education. And while his short-term goal is to find permanent employment in the construction industry, his long-term goal is to work with children who, like him, are lacking a support system and mentor while growing up.
Setting clear career goals is important to Lajonté and he encourages other job seekers to do the same. “Pick a lane and if you can see the other side, stick with it,” he advises. “Don’t let anything hold you back.”
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