Matthew's Success Story

In 2008 Matthew was a typical 20 year old student at Rhode Island College. He had two years worth of credits under his belt and was looking forward to completing his degree in Communications. At the time he resided with his elderly and economically fragile parents. While a full-time student, Matt also worked as a construction laborer to help support his mother and father. Struggling to pay for school, Matt did not have the resources for both a car and an education. He therefore used public transportation to get to school and job sites. Despite having been diagnosed with a learning disability and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder at a young age, Matt learned how to accommodate both to maximize his success at school …that is until an incident occurred that would change his life forever.

In March of that year, Matt was mugged and beaten by a group of men. Since he was on his own, he got the worst of it and spent several days in the hospital with a concussion and multiple contusions. The beating was so severe that it left Matt with a traumatic brain injury. This development, compounded by his existing disabilities, was just too much for Matt to work around. As a result he started to have difficulty in his classes and soon found the course work to be too fast paced and stressful. Matt could no longer remember multi-step instructions, had difficulty concentrating and just couldn’t absorb the material. He discontinued his dream of a higher education and a better life for him and his family.

Matt spent the next three months cycling in and out of temporary jobs hoping to be successful in at least just one. He tried several assignments and despite taking public transportation he arrived on time each and every day. With each assignment Matt had trouble staying focused and multi-tasking. He became easily stressed and impatient. Matt grew increasingly frustrated as he had no income to support himself and his parents or pay for the medications needed to manage his ADHD and onset of anxiety and depression since the mugging. Not being able to hold a job and desperate, Matt turned to Goodwill Industries of Rhode Island for help.

After completing an evaluation and developing a plan of action, it was determined that Matt did had very good hands on skills and a strong interest in areas such as construction, stocking and janitorial services. Strategies were developed to help Matt deal with his short-term memory issues resulting from the brain injury. He also was given techniques to help him with multi-tasking and stress management. As a next step Matt had to put these strategies into play with the support of a Goodwill coach. Matt was provided with clothing and boots for his first job as a stock clerk. Initially Matt struggled with incorporating the strategies as he worked “differently” than others but with hard work he was soon able to complete his assignments. Because this position was temporary, Matt continued to work with Goodwill’s job developer to find steady employment.

Fast forward to March 2009 and Matt was hired at the Newport Navy Base. Today he is a Team Leader working fulltime and earning $12.57 an hour with benefits. Matt is responsible for maintenance of the machinery in the cafeteria and the janitorial services for the both the cafeteria and kitchen. In May 2009, Matt was named the Employee of the Month. He recently moved into an apartment with his girlfriend and is feeling proud of his ability to carry his own weight financially. Matt intends to continue with his education starting first with a computer training course. He also purchased his first car and is on the way to resuming the life he once knew – one that maximizes his abilities and helps him realize his full potential.

Like many Goodwill clients, Matt didn’t want to be a victim and he didn’t want a hand out – he needed help to overcome his barriers – he simply needed a hand up. Through the financial support of our friends and partners in the community, Goodwill is able to provide the services and supports needed for people like Matt who have serious disabilities and other barriers to employment. Each year over 1500 Rhode Islanders across the state receive the case management, education and vocational services needed to make then fully contributing and thriving members of the community! Your generosity will help us help others help themselves.