Since Lisa Gross was honored with a 2005 Goodwill Youth Participant of the Year award, her life has been a rollercoaster ride to say the least.
The single mother of a beautiful young girl named Lyric originally learned about Goodwill of Central Arizona’s workforce development program and services at the age of 16.
“I was in Phoenix Job Corps and visited the Goodwill Career Center (at 16th and Van Buren Streets in Phoenix),” said Gross.
She was introduced to a case manager who evaluated her skill sets and career aspirations. Gross wanted to work in the healthcare field and was quickly hired as a certified nursing assistant at a nursing home.
However, Gross was feeling unfulfilled in that position and decided to pursue a Pharmacy Tech diploma at Apollo College. She graduated in 2003 and was the only student in her class to receive a paid externship.
Afterward, Gross worked as a Pharmacy Tech for several companies but constantly utilized Goodwill’s workforce development program and services to update her resume, search for jobs and to receive encouragement from her case managers.
In 2010, Gross was laid off by her employer and her life began to unravel. Eventually, Gross became homeless and Goodwill helped her find shelters while she searched for jobs.
Gross said she kept her head up and “applied every day for jobs” while she was out of work for almost 18 months.
She said that Flavio Martinez, Goodwill Career Center Educator, was “excellent” and assisted her with her every need during her time of struggle.
“She had been seeking employment for a while and because of her circumstances, Lisa was not at the top of the list for employers,” said Martinez. “It was difficult for her to fully focus because she struggled so much with her housing situation.”
In December 2011, Gross’ efforts finally paid off when she was hired as an Intake Coordinator at UnitedHealthcare.
Gross is thrilled that she is now working at a well-established, international company that offers many advancement opportunities.
“Goodwill taught me how to come across as a professional,” Gross stated. “When I am in a work environment, I know how to dress, conduct myself and deal with different personalities.”
Martinez said that Gross’ story reinforces his pride in his job.
“Sometimes we may not think we make an impact in someone’s life by what we say or how we treat them because of the heavy volume of people in our centers. When they come back and tell us, it makes working for Goodwill more self-fulfilling than anything in the world.”