Hi, my name is Georgia Baker, and my daughter’s name is Joya. She is our only girl, and she has three big brothers, 14, 13 and 8.
In 2011, Goodwill Easterseals asked me to work in the child development center, and I was happy to help. Before I knew it, I was asked to direct the entire child development center. After we found out we were expecting Joya, she ended up being born at 34 weeks. When we got her home with all those boys, we noticed she didn’t really respond to loud noises, and she was having some issues with her breathing. The doctors discovered she had hearing loss in one ear, which also makes it harder for her to balance.
That’s when I figured out why God put me at Goodwill Easterseals. Not only did I have great support through my pregnancy and a loss before Joya was born, but we had Early Intervention right here in the building. Kaki, the physical therapist, is amazing. Joya and I are learning a little sign language, too, and all the speech suggestions are working. Joya has made so much progress; you wouldn’t even know she has a hearing loss. Goodwill Easterseals is a safe haven, and a blessing to my family. The Early Intervention team makes Joya feel safe enough to try new things. I am right where I belong. We can reach out and grab that future!
Marvin Marks was not born blind. Until a few years ago, he was a forklift driver, a husband, and a father, until one day, without notice, he started to go blind from a tumor on his optic nerve. In a very short time, Marvin lost all his sight, first in one eye, and then the other. His life began to fall apart and he lost his job, his wife, and his home – his reasons to get up in the morning. “I had to find something to do to get out of my house—it was driving me crazy,” he said. “I had to find someone to give me a chance.”
After meeting Kathi, who works for Goodwill Easterseals, he was able to work briefly as a telemarketer. “When that business shut down, I was right back to where I started—unemployed. Stuck at home. I became depressed and my life was falling apart,” Marvin said.
Then he found out Goodwill Easterseals had another program he could join for training to learn new skills. Through his hard work, despite his disability, Marvin was able to turn a temporary training position into a permanent one. He has now been employed for over three years. “I was so excited—I didn’t want to go back to being unemployed again. Since I haven’t been blind for very long, there is still a lot I need to learn. I’m learning to use a cane. The folks here have also helped me with things that are hard for me, like reading my mail and making a budget work. They have become like family to me—a real support,” he said.
“I like working here because it gives me a reason to get up. I have someplace to be besides sitting at my house. I want to work and have a job. It gives me momentum. It keeps me active. I am glad Goodwill Easterseals is here. I have a job and a paycheck, and more importantly, I have somewhere to go.”
Marvin’s story is just one of over 10,000 from people who came to Goodwill Easterseals over the past year looking to enhance their education, find a job, or get support for their family. We are here, but we wouldn’t be able to help without the compassionate support from our Gulf Coast community.
Come meet Marvin and hear his story on a Hope to Opportunity (H2O) tour and find out the good things Goodwill Easterseals is doing to help your neighbors who need it. We bet you will say, “I had no idea you did that!” at least once, and with your knowledge, we can spread the message of hope and bring opportunities to even more people. You can reserve a spot, or just show up to any one of the dates on the tour card. We sure would love to have you!
Please join Goodwill Easterseals of the Gulf Coast, the Autism Society of Alabama, and Santa America this Saturday for our Sensory Santa event! It is free to the public and provides a soft, calm environment for children on the autism spectrum and others with sensory processing disorders to visit Santa. RSVP to Michelle at 251-259-5553 to reserve a spot! The event it from 1:30-4:30 at our Goodwill Easterseals Spanish Fort location (behind Publix). We will have crafts, snacks, and a giveaway for the parents every hour. Come visit peaceful, nurturing Santa and experience love, hope, and joy as we head into the Christmas season.