GOODWILL CHANGES LIVES OF HOMELESS VETERANS BY OFFERING TRAINING AND JOBS THROUGH OPERATION OPEN DOORS

Frank Leslie(SAVANNAH, GA) While most Americans are celebrating 237 years of independence this Fourth of July, Tim Ferrel and Frederick Leslie are a few of the veterans also celebrating the jobs that have put them back on their feet. Both served in the US Army and both became homeless until introduced to Goodwill’s Operation Open Doors.

Tim Ferrel served in the US Army for four years, and when he got out, he ended up with the “wrong crowd” and became homeless. After being caught between struggling to keep a job and homelessness as well as serving jail time for drug abuse, Ferrel was introduced to Operation Open Doors.

Frederick Leslie served in the US Army and after getting out of the military, he pursued his dreams of owning his own business. He opened his own business in 2001, but when his business failed due to the economy, Leslie lost everything, including his home and his family. While eating lunch at a homeless shelter one day, he was introduced to the services of OOD.

Both veterans were given training on things such as how to write a resume and interviewing techniques. Leslie says he had “not written a resume in over 20 years”, and was retaught by OOD. OOD then helped them find interviews and checked on them almost daily until they had accomplished the desired outcome—a job. Ferrel explains that OOD is different from other programs because “they stick with you, they almost mother you…they care.” Ferrel is now a full time cook at Savannah Squares and and Leslie was hired by contractors at Camden Homes full time while still hoping to own his own business again one day.

What is Operation Open Doors?

Operation Open Doors is a Goodwill program that provides employment and training along with support services to assist homeless military veterans in obtaining employment and transforming their lives. Veterans take classes to learn how to write a resume, do job searches, and do a proper job interview. They develop employment plans through the program to help them achieve their goals.

Employment specialists follow the vets for nine months after they get a job to see if there are any problems in the job or if any additional training is needed.

About Goodwill of the Coastal Empire

Goodwill of the Coastal Empire, Inc. is dedicated to the mission of assisting people with disabilities and other barriers to employment to live independently and become employed. The not-for-profit organization employs nearly 600 employees throughout the area. In 2012, Goodwill provided services to 24,427 people and placed 1,406 people into employment through various programs offered throughout the region. Goodwill of the Coastal Empire serves 33 counties in Georgia and South Carolina, operating 14 retail locations and six Job Connection Centers in the region. Goodwill accepts tax deductible donations of clothing, household items, computers, and car donations, as well as operates an online store at http://www.shopgoodwill.com. For more information on Goodwill of the Coastal Empire, please visit http://www.goodwillsavannah.org. Find us on Facebook: Statesboro Goodwill or follow us on Twitter: @SavGoodwill.

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