MERS Goodwill Gives New Hope for Client Jimmie Anthony

Jimmie Anthony has never let a disability or obstacle define him. During his time as an automobile operator at a factory in Dexter, MO in 2010, he was diagnosed as having a massive blood clot in his right arm and two blood clots in his jugular. He immediately began treatment and spent months seeing different doctors, which put him out of a job for nearly a year. Despite his hard work to recover, by the time he was cleared to reenter the work force, the economy had declined and Jimmie’s finances took a negative turn.

Getting back on his own two feet was the only option Jimmie had. As a diabetic, Jimmie’s treatment costs upwards of $500 a month. He was also a single parent raising a teenaged son with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Jimmie had run out of his savings and wasn’t eligible for any state assistance or Medicaid for his and his son’s health issues.

“The workforce had changed drastically since the last time I had been in the market for a job,” said Jimmie. “For the first time in my life, I was at a roadblock in my job search and needed to refocus on my options.”

That’s when Jimmie turned to the Missouri Department of Vocational Rehabilitation for help and was referred by his Counselor Nancy Strothmann to MERS Goodwill’s Employment Services program. There he met his Job Developer, Janel Barber.

“Jimmie is a man of integrity and doesn’t take no for an answer when met with obstacles he knows he can overcome,” said Janel. “He truly wants to help people, and see them make changes in their lives as well.”

Janel began working with Jimmie in October of 2013. She immediately noticed his excellent and diverse work history ranging from the social service field, radio announcing, inventory control, corrections and retail. Janel updated Jimmie’s resume while he devised a list of well-respected references so the job search could begin. The main goal was to find employment in social services or retail because these were areas where Jimmie thrived. Janel made sure Jimmie’s interview skills were on point and advocated on his behalf, marketing him to businesses where he had transferable skills.

“Jimmie was always dressed to impress for each appointment and was prepared and determined to find employment,” continued Janel. “He always followed through with whatever job leads I had for him quickly. Each interview he had was practice for the job he would eventually get.”

It came as no surprise when Jimmie was offered a job with full benefits soon after he came to Goodwill. Jimmie was on call for when his start date would be, but a month went by without any word from the employer. Jimmie was devastated. With encouragement from Janel and his family, Jimmie redirected his efforts to concentrate on an employer who was ready to hire.

When Janel saw an open position as a corrections officer with the Missouri Department of Corrections in Charleston, she encouraged Jimmie to apply because he had prior experience. They strived as a team to perfect the online application and practice to ace the interview and get the job.

Jimmie went through an extensive interview process. In addition to a very detailed background check, Jimmie had to take a grueling video situational test before his interview and physical agility test. He was scored on each test and his final score placed him on the state registry for consideration of being hired.

Jimmie knows first-hand that hard work pays off. On June 14, 2014, he was officially hired as a Corrections Officer with the Missouri Department of Corrections.

“I work in a higher concentration of offenders than any other segment of law enforcement, so even on the best day it is stressful,” said Jimmie. “But each person I come in contact with I treat as a human being, whether it be an offender or fellow staff member. It is not my job to judge; it is my job to make sure the facility operates smoothly and efficiently with the safety of all people behind the fences being my utmost concern.”

Jimmie is just about to celebrate his first anniversary with the DOC. He’s working hard to move up in the ranks so he can have more responsibility and earn more for his household. He has medical insurance benefits now which he truly needed.

“His success proves to me on a daily basis why I enjoy my work,” said Janel. “I just try to give them the ‘tools’ to help them along the way and it’s more about what they are doing successfully to improve their lives than anything I could ever do directly for them.”

For Jimmie, his experience with MERS Goodwill and Missouri Vocational Rehabilitation is something he cherishes. He hopes his story will reach individuals who have barriers to employment. In the meantime, Jimmie shares the wisdom that Janel has passed on and has even referred a handful of individuals to Goodwill in the past year.

“I have had inmates come up to me and ask me to review their resume or give them some advice on job searching for when they are released,” said Jimmie. “I really cannot say enough good things about Goodwill and the people involved. Whatever challenges you face in life, there is an avenue to help you.”