In The News

College Graduation More Than A Milestone for Goodwill Participant

January 25, 2017

Goodwill Industries of Greater Cleveland & East Central Ohio, Inc. (“Goodwill”), in a preview of awards to be handed out at the upcoming Report to the Community Breakfast, is proud to announce that Tracy Smith graduated from Stark State College on January 8 – a milestone moment on a larger journey that Tracy and Goodwill have been on, together, for about a year. Tracy will be awarded Goodwill’s “Achiever of the Year” award at the organization’s annual breakfast event on March 16, 2017 at Kent State Stark’s Conference Center. Goodwill came to know Tracy through a pilot program called Dream to Achieve – a program that aims to provide situationally flexible, individualized services that create opportunities for people and families to reach toward big goals again. Goodwill is proud to offer these services locally to small groups of individuals through a generous grant from the Sisters of Charity Foundation of Canton. In a story symbolic of so many trying to break the cycle of poverty and addiction, Tracy has a passion, but the means to pursue it seemed far out of reach when she first came to Goodwill. She has two grown children, two young children (one with special needs), and two grandchildren. She had a strong desire to work in the social services field, but had no clothes to wear to an interview, nor the gas to get to and from. The thought of spending that money for something that may or may not work out was more than her situation would allow.

But that does not mean she wasn’t thinking big. In fact, if you asked her what she really wanted, she would tell you she dreamed of owning a recovery center for women trying to overcome addiction and create better lives for their children. Since even working in the field at all was proving difficult, the thought of pursuing her long term dream definitely seemed out of reach.
Enter Goodwill’s Dream to Achieve Program. Tracy signed up, and Goodwill agreed to meet her where she was – literally. The only time and place she could meet was after class at Stark State, so that’s where meetings took place. Fast forward several months – Tracy has graduated with degrees in both human
services/social work and chemical dependency; she earned high distinction in both. She has a 10-year plan to open her own recovery center.

“Helping people connect or reconnect with their deepest passion isn’t easy, but it’s worth it,” said Marcie Bragg, Vice President of Mission Services at Goodwill. “The wrap-around, flexible nature of Dream to Achieve makes more of these outcomes possible, and we are committed to being there for people like Tracy,” she continued.

“The encouragement kept me on my toes…I knew what direction I was going. That felt great because I had been lost for so long,” Tracy said.

ABOUT GOODWILL INDUSTRIES OF GREATER CLEVELAND AND EAST CENTRAL OHIO: The local Goodwill, Goodwill Industries of Greater Cleveland and East Central Ohio, Inc., (“Goodwill”) is a nearly 100-year old social enterprise that works closely with other non-profit agencies as well as community businesses to prepare people for a variety of stable career options and in turn, a more productive and sustainable way of life. Revenue from its retail stores helps Goodwill provide people with the life changing, skill-building programs and services needed to remove common barriers to good jobs. In 2015, Goodwill impacted the lives of 15,418 residents in the 10 counties it serves: Cuyahoga, Geauga, part of Lake, Stark, Tuscarawas, Carroll, Jefferson, and Harrison in Ohio, and Brooke and Hancock in West Virginia. Learn more at www.GoodwillGoodSkills.org.