Success Stories – Goodwill of Orange County

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Goodwill of Orange County, CA 

July 2016

Beverly was concerned about her older brother, Phillip, an Army veteran who served stateside during the Korean conflict years. She searched the internet, and called The Tierney Center for Veteran Services in Tustin, CA. She talked with Patrick Thomson, Veteran Outreach Specialist, and explained what problems her brother was having, physically, emotionally and financially. At that time an appointment was set. Beverly, Phillip and Patrick met at the Tierney Center’s conference room and it was very clear that Phillip was in a downward spiral. He was overwhelmed with worry about his financial situation. He continually had to borrow money monthly from his sister and occasionally from outside sources, at high interest rates. He was living like a miser, going backwards from $200-$300 every month. Also, he was having physical problems, mainly his hearing.

About ½ hour into the meeting, Roger Martinez, Veteran Employment Specialist, joined us in the conference room and talked with Phillip about employment. For so long he had thought of himself as unemployable because of his age, 79. Roger made it very clear that Phillip could, and should work again. Once he was convinced that working part-time could solve his problems, his whole demeanor changed. Hope was alive and well.

After the meeting, Beverly, Phillip and Patrick adjourned to the office of Chanel Sanchez, Veteran Services Coordinator, with a background in nursing. She immediately became aware of Phillip’s hearing problem and then directed him to the Veterans Service Office in Santa Ana, CA to open a disability claim. Then, Chanel directed him to visit Mr. Albert Stone at the One-Stop Center in Garden Grove, a state-run program that provides comprehensive employment and training services. Mr. Stone specializes in helping seniors secure part-time jobs.

After the meeting, the next step was for Patrick to visit Phillip in Anaheim. He was living in a small room at a very old motel and paying rent weekly. He had an interesting name for the owner of the motel, Dragon Lady. You can imagine the rest. The first thing he did was to pull out his guitar. He told Patrick that he is a man that loves to play his guitar and sing for people. He then pulled up a chair, sat up straight and assertively stated, “This song will let you know exactly what I need.” He then energetically began strumming his guitar. In a voice that was at least 40 years younger than his actual age of almost 80, he confidently sang a famous song by the Beatles:

The best things in life are free, but you can keep ’em for the birds and bees.
Now give me money (that’s what I want). That’s what I want (that’s what I want).
That’s what I want (that’s what I want), yeah. That’s what I want…

Phillip did go to the Veterans Service Office. There, he filed a disability claim for his hearing problem. Then, as directed, Phillip visited Albert Stone at the One-Stop Center in Garden Grove. He followed Albert’s instructions and on his second interview he landed a great part-time job. He currently works Tuesdays and Thursdays for Patriots and Paws, a local non-profit that helps veterans with service dogs and furniture.

Phillip is enjoying being back in the workforce again. Now, with enough money to pay all of his bills, there’s money left over for entertainment, hobbies & travel. He has his life back; he has his self-dignity back. He is one happy veteran. When asked, if he would recommend the Tierney Center for Veteran Services at Goodwill of Orange County he enthusiastically responded, “You better believe I would.”