Jack, a native of Congo, was diagnosed with polio as a child. Upon his diagnosis, his father abandoned the family. “In Congo, the government doesn’t offer help to people with disabilities,” Jack said. “Without a wheelchair, I spent my life walking on my hands and knees. I tried to find odd jobs to help my mother, because I owe her everything. In high school, I repaired shoes in the street.”
In 2009, through the Kentucky Refugee Ministries, Jack immigrated to the United States with his cousin and aunt. Within two months, he taught himself English. During his first three years in America, Jack obtained a wheelchair and an apartment, but struggled to find employment.
In 2012, the Kentucky Office of Vocational Rehabilitation helped Jack obtain his GED and referred him to Goodwill, where he worked one-on-one with Employment Specialist Andy Cotter. Together, they created Jack’s resume, practiced interviewing skills, and developed a career plan.
“Jack immediately bought into the process,” Andy replied. “He came to Goodwill ready to better his life.”
Andy helped Jack apply for numerous positions before Jack was hired in September 2015 as a cashier for Aramark, a partnering employer of Goodwill.
“He is reliable and performs well at his tasks. He also gives great customer service, so much so that he was featured in our most recent newsletter,” said Morgan West, Jack’s supervisor. “He is fantastic, and I am very proud to have him as part of our team.”
“I have a job because of Andy,” Jack said. “A lot of employers turned me down because I lacked physical abilities, but Andy didn’t let me quit. He just pushed me harder. He told me that my disability did not define my worth.”
Jack still has many goals he wants to accomplish, such as purchasing a vehicle, pursuing higher education, and perfecting his English.
“For a long time, I was getting assistance from the government,” Jack said. “So I want to thank the American government for assisting me, even though I didn’t feel good about it. I wanted to work. Once I got my job, my whole life changed. All of my thoughts changed. I finally gained skills and felt confident. Everything I feel is in my heart. I can’t even explain it through voice. I owe it all to Andy and Goodwill.”