At the heart of Goodwill are the people we serve. Each person has an inspirational story – whether it is one of recovery from financial dependence, addiction, disability lack of education, homelessness, incarceration or acculturation. Through determination and perseverance, our participants have triumphed over many obstacles in their path to self-sufficiency.



Free spirited and independent, Zsasha dropped out of high school at 17, one year shy of graduating. With the help of the Ola I Ka Hana program, Zasha received a scholarship to the Academy of Art University in San Francisco.

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Getting his life back on track after prison was a long and steady process for Royce. Overcoming substance abuse, a criminal record and a lack of transportation, Royce’s involvement with the Job Connections program in Hilo helped him achieve his goal of steady employment, and inspired him to set new goals for his life.

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After graduating high school, Andrew was excited about joining the workforce. His job coach worked with him on a regular basis to help him with job readiness skills that built his self-confidence. Andrew looks forward to going to work each day and has plans for a long-term career.

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Venus graduated from Goodwill’s Employment Works program and now enjoys a successful career as a correctional officer. Venus was recognized by the Hawaii Joint Police Association with a Certificate of Distinguished Service for being an exceptional woman in law enforcement.

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After a life-shattering car accident, Denise was seriously injured, unable to find work, and on the verge of committing suicide. Goodwill’s Automated Office Skills Training helped her put her life back together again. Now, at age 50, she has discovered her true career path and loves every minute of her job.

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Since she was a teen, Glenda always wanted to work in a garden shop, but with nine children and a life revolving around welfare, steady work seemed an impossible goal to attain. Glenda overcame the odds, and works at Lowe’s in a job that she loves. She shares her newfound inspiration with others.

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With the combination of a poor economy and Jeff’s lifelong kidney condition, his family lost their business. Despite his losses, Jeff recovered and enrolled in Goodwill’s Computer Skills Training Class, which helped him finally find his place in the workforce and in life.

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When Teddy lost his job of 10 years, Goodwill was there to help. With job skills training and encouragement, Teddy entered a career he loves and was quickly promoted into management. He now turns to Goodwill, not for help, but for employees, because he knows how well Goodwill trains people. He also refers the agency’s services to his friends.

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After a childhood of abuse, foster care, drugs, and multiple arrests, Karen found herself pregnant at 15. She made the decision to give her child a better life, and turned to Goodwill’s alternative high-school youth program, Ola I Ka Hana. Karen’s perseverance took her to the top of her class, where she graduated as valedictorian. Now a devoted mother and aspiring nurse, Karen is on the road to fulfilling her dreams of a successful and happy life.

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Transitioning from years in prison into society was a long, hard journey for Renee. Afraid of reentering the workforce, Renee took advantage of Goodwill’s Job Connections program where she learned the job readiness skills she needed for a new start. Renee has a new appreciation for life and a second chance to make the most of it.

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Once homeless and dependent on welfare, and a single parent of two adolescent children, Blaine now works full time for a small family-run business, and is a resident manager for his apartment building in Salt Lake. With the help of Goodwill Industries of Hawaii, Blaine successfully transitioned off of public assistance and became self-sufficient.

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