Success Stories

Meet a few of the people Goodwill has helped.


When you pay a visit to our attended donation center at Volunteer Plaza, you will be enthusiastically greeted by the ray of sunshine that is Annie.

Annie started her career with Goodwill Tenneva in October 2018 as a donation attendant at the attended donation center in Jonesborough, TN. She brings joy everywhere she goes, having also worked at attended donation centers in Elizabethton, Blountville, and Bristol. After spending 10 months bringing smiles to the faces of donors in Bristol at our former retail location, Annie assisted operations at our Trader’s Village location before making her home at our attended donation center at Volunteer Plaza.

Annie is one-of a kind: she brings kindness, warmth, and positivity to Goodwill Tenneva. Donors constantly compliment her kind personality, and how she can turn a gloomy day into a bright one. To meet Annie is to make a new friend.

When asked what she loves most about working at Goodwill Tenneva, she exclaimed that there were MANY things she loves, and that she could not pick just one! She loves meeting new people, and she loves serving a higher purpose with her fellow team members. She feels strongly connected to Goodwill’s mission because she feels 100% supported not only by her direct supervisor, but by the entire executive team.

“Goodwill is a remarkable place to work: a place where I am recognized as an individual. I love my job, and the people that I work with. They’re just great people!”

Annie loves that Goodwill sees her abilities, and gives her the opportunity to grow each day. She says that thanks to Goodwill Tenneva, she is able to carry out meaningful work while completing her Bachelor’s Degree in Human Services. She will soon begin studies toward her Master’s degree!

The next time you make a donation at our attended donation center at Volunteer Plaza, be sure to tell Annie hello!


When you walk through the front doors of our home office, you will have the pleasure of meeting Donna.

Donna is our Director of First Impressions: she is the first person you will see when visiting our home office in Kingsport. Donna is responsible for providing excellent customer service to callers, transferring calls to the appropriate departments, and data entry. Donna has been a member of the Goodwill Tenneva family for 30 years, having started her career with our organization in 1991. In addition to her work with Goodwill Tenneva, Donna is very active in her community. She is on the Executive Board for the Arc of Washington County, and is on the Family Support Council for the Arc of Washington County.

Donna is one-of-a-kind: she is compassionate, energetic, and is always offering a smile and pleasant conversation to brighten the days.

What Donna loves most about working for Goodwill Tenneva is the culture of inclusivity, growth, and opportunity.

“I became a viable member of our community because Goodwill saw my ability, not my disability. I have Cerebral Palsy, but that doesn’t define who I am. It is my hope that when you get to know me, you will see the person I am before you see my wheelchair. It takes a village to help me live my life, and my Goodwill Family is a big part of my village. I’m thankful God chose to place Goodwill in my life.”

The next time you visit our home office, be sure to tell Donna hello and congratulate her on 30 wonderful years of service with Goodwill Tenneva!


When you visit our home office on a Friday afternoon, you’ll be greeted with a lively “Live Long & Prosper” by Emma: Star Trek enthusiast and proud employee of Goodwill Tenneva.

Emma joined the Goodwill Tenneva family in July of 2018. In October of that same year, she began working as our Data Entry Clerk. She works closely with our organization’s Data and Technology Manager to develop critical reports for our organization.

Emma is one-of-a-kind: she is incredibly intelligent, outgoing, a data whiz, and exceptionally witty. She is laser-focused on the task at hand, and always has a way of bringing smiles to everyone she meets. Emma loves to read, and enjoys spending her days off building her literary collection while shopping at Mr. K’s.

What Emma loves most about working for Goodwill Tenneva is getting to work alongside people who care about her. She loves making a difference in her community, and feels that her work at Goodwill allows her to grow both professionally and personally.

“I am Goodwill Strong because of the difference I make for my community.”

The next time you stop by our home office, be sure to offer a “Live Long & Prosper” greeting to Emma!


If you’ve spent some time in Southwest Virginia, you are almost certain to have been graced by the inspiring presence of Kenneth: Senior Community Service Employment Program (SCSEP) Assistant Extraordinaire.

Kenneth has been a tremendous asset to SCSEP since his enrollment in February of 2021, where he serves as a Program Assistant. He is responsible for assisting with the recruitment of SCSEP participants in the Southwest Virginia area and forging relationships with community agencies.

Kenneth has an extensive background, having studied Ministry at Duke University with continued studies at Emory and Henry and East Tennessee State University. He has spent his career in management, as a crisis intervention specialist, and as a residential counselor. He is an avid tennis player, and is arguably one of the best tennis instructors around!

What drew Kenneth to SCSEP was the ability to learn new things and cultivate new relationships within the community. Kenneth has never met a stranger, and enjoys meeting new people and sharing his story. To meet Kenneth is to make a new friend, and he firmly believes that you are never too old to learn!

One of Kenneth’s favorite quotes is: “If you give a man a fish, you feed him for a day. If you teach a man to fish, you feed him for a lifetime.”

If you happen to spot Kenneth while on a trip up to Abingdon or Chilhowie, be sure to say hello!


When you walk through the doors of our Bristol Commons store, you may hear a hearty laugh amongst the hustle and bustle. That’s when you know Sharon is there, spreading cheer everywhere she goes. 

Sharon joined the Goodwill Tenneva family in January of 2020 when she enrolled in the Senior Community Service Employment Program (SCSEP), a national employment and training program partnership with the U.S. Department of Labor. This program allows Virginia residents ages 55 and older to build employment skills, share the valuable skills they have, and supplement income through meaningful work.

Upon Sharon’s enrollment in SCSEP, she started working at our Bristol Commons retail store. She excelled in her role and was hired by Goodwill Industries of Tenneva in February of 2021 as an employee of the Bristol Commons store. She currently works on the sales floor, and is responsible for stocking and ensuring the retail environment is safe and clean for customers. Sharon is very thankful for the opportunity and the emotional uplifting she received when she secured her job.

“Goodwill gave me a reason to live. They hired me when nobody else would and have blessed me. I look forward to coming to work every day.”

A mother of six children, Sharon had spent 30 years working two jobs at a time while supporting her family. She wishes that Goodwill had been an option while raising her children, much in part to the support she receives and the flexibility she is given. Sharon says that Goodwill has changed her life for the better.

“What I love most about working for Goodwill Tenneva is the opportunity they have given me. The sky is the limit. If you want to learn, Goodwill is willing to teach you—I mean, they are REALLY willing to teach you. I’ve learned so much since I’ve been here.”

The next time you stop by our Bristol Commons store, be sure to tell Sharon hello!


If you’ve visited the Holston Valley Hospital in Kingsport, you’ve probably seen Ashley Patterson. She’s on the go-to crew for keeping the hospital environment clean and sterilized.

Patterson started with Goodwill in 2004. She enrolled in the Organizational Employment Program, which provides employment to individuals for whom competitive employment is not feasible due to a barrier such as age, severity of disability or lack of work experience. While in the program, Patterson spent time prepping and learning about her new work skills, such as dusting, cleaning, mopping, and sweeping.

“Being in the Goodwill program really helped me learn new job skills,” said Patterson.” I got a job in the hospital. It’s a fun place to work and I’ve made a lot of friends. I am proud of what I do and I’m happy to be at work and to participate in other work activities, such as the spring picnic.”

She is the one who keeps the bathrooms, ER Lobby, admitting waiting area, and hallways spotless and trash free! Patterson monitors the lobbies, Starbucks, Subway, and museum area for trash and spills. She’s also the one refilling the antibacterial hand sanitizer stations to help keep everyone germ free!

Going through the Goodwill program and learning these new skills has helped Patterson grow as a person, too.

“Having a job has got me out of the house and active,” said Patterson. “And I’ve gained independence, I earn a paycheck, I got my driver’s license and definitely a lot more confidence,” she said with a smile.

Erin Starnes, Director of Workforce Development, worked with Ashley when she first started at Goodwill and now periodically checks up on her and makes sure she’s still completing her job to the best of her ability.

“Ashley has been with Goodwill for over 10 years now,” said Starnes. “She’s went from underestimating her abilities and capabilities to now being a very reliable, hardworking individual. We’re very proud of her and look forward to her future accomplishments!”

Patterson says you should always be yourself. So if you see Ashley working (and smiling!) in the hospital on your next visit, stop by and say hello!


“Oh my biscuits!”

If you’re walking into the processing area in the corporate headquarters building and this phrase is heard, Kizzy Bryant is already having an enthusiastic, productive morning.

Bryant came to Goodwill three years ago. She was referred to Goodwill Industries of Tenneva for the Work Adjustment program through the Tennessee vocational rehabilitation in Kingsport. Work Adjustment is a program funded through the Goodwill retail stores and vocational rehabilitation. It helps individuals find their job skill set to be a contributing member of the workforce.

Work Adjustment is one of the most popular programs at Goodwill. The individuals in the program will try various job tasks within the company to identify their employment interests. Bryant went to visit three job sites before coming to Goodwill: a fast food establishment, a factory, and a children’s daycare. When she enrolled in the Work Adjustment program, she tried a job at the Goodwill processing center hanging clothes and then worked in the new goods processing division, pricing and organizing items to be sent to the retail stores.

She excelled in the Goodwill new goods processing division and was eventually hired by Goodwill Industries of Tenneva. She was very thankful for the opportunity and the emotional uplifting she received when she secured a job.

“It’s hard being a single parent. Work doesn’t always bend around your kids, but my kids come first,” Bryant said. “Getting the job at Goodwill helped me to not only get out of the house, but also take care of my kids.”

Goodwill was able to create Bryant a work schedule that met the needs of their retail stores and allowed her the ability to manage her families’ needs.

“I’ve finally got a sense of self-worth and feel like I’m bettering myself every day!”


During the fall race rallying in Bristol, you can find Jay Clark volunteering his time at the Family Race Night at the Food City tent. Clark is currently enrolled in the Supported Employment program with Goodwill Industries of Tenneva.

Clark was referred to Goodwill from the Virginia Department of Aging and Rehabilitation Services. The Supported Employment program allows individuals to receive job readiness training and job coaching, which involves on-site training, and follow up services.

He has worked for a year as a courtesy clerk for the Food City in Damascus, Virginia. He was hired at Food City after Goodwill Program Manager, Robin Haga, was able to help him learn how to do the clerk responsibilities and continues to follow up with him to help him learn new job skills.

“I would recommend Goodwill services because they have helped me a lot,” said Clark. “The job coaching and continued visits help me learn how to continue to do my job.”

Goodwill helped Clark find his job and successfully keep the job at Food City. He loves his job but especially enjoys volunteering at the Food City tent, handling out samples to visitors.

“Jay has been a delight to work with,” stated Haga. “It has been exciting to watch him grow to become an active member of the Food City team.”

Clark will continue to learn new job skills and pursue his career at Food City. If you see him at the Food City tent, make sure you get a sample of the food he’s passing out!


When an individual is court-ordered to attend the Day Reporting Center programs in Johnson City, Tenn., the outcomes all involved hope for is a positive one. On October 2, 2014, employment training program participant Andy Liu was the first graduate of the Day Reporting Center.

The Day Reporting Center, a place where individuals with a criminal record can build on their education, sobriety, coping skills and enhance their job opportunities, is where Liu learned the tools he needed to make his day-to-day more positive. He was taught how to interview for job opportunities better and to be more confident when speaking to employers.

“I view my current job differently, but in a more positive way,” stated Liu. “It is very important for me to be responsible and keep my family together.”

Liu has been working at the Johnson City Mall since August of 2013. He tries to put himself in his customers’ shoes so he can consistently gain experience in communicating with people. In Liu’s eyes, the more experience you have, the better you are to keep learning and moving forward.

“There are winners,” said Liu. “And there are losers, but the losers are people who just haven’t discovered how to win yet. I am now discovering how to win.”

After graduating from the DRC, Liu will keep his current job, but he’s been talking about enrolling in college classes. Whatever it is Liu decides to do, he’s gaining all the experience he can to help him make the best decisions and make those decisions with confidence!