Mary knows how it feels to have a loving and supportive family. She also knows how it feels to go without that love and support.

As a young adult, Mary, lost both of her parents in a car crash. Because she has a learning disability, a court-appointed guardian sent Mary to live in Nashville with a relative, whom she said mistreated her. From there, she moved to a group home in Columbia, and later to government-assisted housing in Lawrenceburg.

“Life wasn’t great,” she recalls.

But in Lawrenceburg, Mary met her future husband, who first asked her on a date over a shared meal of pizza. Frank restored some stability and happiness to Mary’s life, and they got married.

Struggles continued in other parts of Mary’s life, however. She held several jobs, including at a clothing store and a fast-food restaurant, but Mary never felt like she fit in. Her supervisors grew impatient with her and could even be mean. She needed a better job and a new start.

In 2008, Mary went to Goodwill Career Solutions for help, and an employment coach arranged for Mary to enter paid training as a donations processor at the Lawrenceburg Goodwill store. Mary worked diligently with a job coach until she mastered the required skills and was hired on full time.

Eight years later, Mary has come to embody the spirit of the Lawrenceburg Goodwill store.

“She’s always friendly and polite, she’s a very hard worker and just a sweet girl,” said Kim Sisson, a lead processing associate. “She greets everybody with a smile, she comes in anytime we need her, and when she’s not here, customers ask about her.”

Mary has been recognized for outstanding performance by store management on several occasions, including once for being the first person to come to the aid of a co-worker who fell and struck her head.

She is proud of the certificates of appreciation she has received, and she is grateful for the steady income her job has brought her. But what she values most are the friendships she has made with customers and co-workers.

“I just like being here — being part of the family, I reckon,” she said. “It’s good to go to work.”

About Goodwill Industries of Middle Tennessee, Inc.

For 60 years, Goodwill Industries of Middle Tennessee has provided job training and job placement free of charge to people with disabilities or other barriers to employment through the sale of donated items.  Goodwill’s vision is that all people will have the opportunity to reach their fullest potential through the power of work. More information about Goodwill’s Career Solutions, retail stores and donation centers can be obtained online at or by calling 1-800-545-9231.

Find a Goodwill near you.

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