Transforming Lives Through the Power of Work


Ines is a local high school student who found herself getting into trouble. She would skip school, do drugs and wasn’t on the right path. Ines eventually was placed in the Youth At Risk probation program at her school. One of her mentors was determined to keep Ines out of trouble. She encouraged Ines to enroll in the Youth at Work program at the Goodwill Southern California YouthSource Center in Panorama City.

While in the program, Ines completed 20 hours of classroom learning. This focused on life skills, career exploration, and financial literacy classes. She also completed 100 hours of work experience at the Goodwill SoCal YouthSource Center office, where she shared her story with and assisted students, hosted orientations, and participated in community outreach.

“After working at the Youth at Work program, Ines completely changed her life around,” said Belen Benitez, Goodwill SoCal Youth Career Advisor. Ines is overjoyed to have landed a position working 10 hours a week, as well as an internship at the office of L.A. City Councilwoman Nury Martinez. Ines now has her sights set on college and plans to become a marine biologist and “show others what I can do.”


Karo immigrated to the United States in 1978, at the age of five, along with his family. Upon his arrival, he enrolled in school but dropped out after completing the 10th grade. Instead, he pursued his GED to free up time to find a job and help make ends meet for his family. Karo began to work odd jobs, from construction to restaurant server, but faced challenges landing a long-term job. Because of Karo’s inconsistent work schedule, he had a significant amount of spare time and began spend his nights off partying until the early morning hours.

Karo soon became addicted to drugs and alcohol. His family tried to seek help for him but had trouble getting through to him. Karo was in and out of jail and rehab facilities for 15 years. After many failed attempts to detox, something clicked for Karo and he finally became serious about his future. While staying at the Center for Living and Learning, Karo changed his lifestyle. In July 2017, he visited a Goodwill retail store recruitment event at our Valley WorkSource Center and landed a job as a part-time sales associate at a Goodwill SoCal store. This opportunity gave Karo the extra push he needed to focus on his future. He enrolled at the Goodwill Northeast WorkSource Center for transportation access and other supportive services.

While working as a sales associate, Karo noticed a demand for truck drivers, an area of interest that he had not known how to pursue. He discussed this with his case manager, who advised him to obtain his Class A truck driving license. In December 2017, Karo received his truck driving license and is now on the path to finding his first truck driving job! He has a new outlook on life and is excited for what the future holds.

“Goodwill Southern California gave me a second chance to change my life,” said Karo. “I’m so happy that they gave me a job and the training I needed to find the career I hoped for.”


“Check this out, I’m wearing a suit, using a computer, have a work cell phone and I’m going to school to get my high school diploma. I can help others on Skid Row get out of their situation. I can show them that if I can do it, so can they.”


Regina has been in the U.S. Army Reserve for 10 years. She always planned ahead and strived to set an example for her daughter. While planning her transition to civilian life, she hit a road block. Her skills in the Army Reserve translated to the position of armed guard, but to quality for that position she needed both armed guard and firearms certifications.

“I wouldn’t be able to get a job at a retail store or something of that nature because I needed the flexibility to work irregular hours,” Regina said. “That’s why I hoped to get the Armed Guard Certification, but it’s an expensive certification.”

Regina turned to her U.S. Army Reserve Family Readiness Coordinator, who advised her to contact Goodwill Southern California. Regina was greeted by Goodwill SoCal Career Services Specialist Thomas Salazar, who helped her create a resume and obtain her certifications free of charge.

“Thomas was great at keeping me on task and working around my busy schedule,” Regina said. “He helped break up the training into multiple sessions in order to ensure I wouldn’t miss any appointments.” Regina recently faced a divorce and the certifications allowed her to work after hours so she could take care of her daughter. Goodwill Southern California’s help made a huge impact on Regina’s life at a time when she needed it the most.


Goodwill Southern California is helping people write the next chapter of their lives despite the challenges of their past. We won’t count them out, because they’re counting on us. Congratulations to the most recent graduates of the LA: RISE program!