Success Stories

Meet a few of the people Goodwill has helped.


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!