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James has been part of the LTS program for over 15 years; his current employment with Safeway began in 2021 and is the third successful community job for him. James chose to move on from Walmart after working there for several years, LTS staff assisted James in locating job openings and filling out the application for Safeway. The hiring manager called James the next day and asked him questions over the phone. James answered the questions independently and was hired immediately. James notified LTS staff of his new job and was to begin the following week. The LTS Dallas Job Coach helped James learn the job tasks and quickly faded out their assistance due to his previous experience and skills. LTS Dallas Program Supervisor Katheryn Berringer talked with Safeway employee Brad about James’ performance, “James has an excellent attitude, he is a machine with bringing in carts, he is super reliable and a fantastic worker. I am happy to have him as part of the team!”

James’ hard work, determination, experience and ever increasing independence has led to his success at Safeway. LTS is proud of his accomplishments!


Hi! My name is Graciela. I am from Michoacán, Mexico. I came to the United States in December, 2001. Since then, I have lived in Forest Grove, Oregon.

In my first ten years of marriage, my husband and I were together a few months, and more than a year apart. All these years he was back and forth from Mexico to Oregon. Raising my kids by myself and living alone were the things that helped me to look for a better life.

As a permanent resident, my husband applied for our kids and me. We had to wait seven years until we got green cards.

I came to Oregon with my husband and four boys. We had to leave our home far away. In a few weeks, my life had changed a lot. A year later, the last baby boy was born.

Facing my new life, I noticed how important it is to learn the language of this country. In September, 2003, I started English class four days per week. Pushing two kids in a stroller, I walked to class every day. I did not care about bad weather. I wanted to learn English.

After three years, I started looking for a job. My neighbors had told me about Goodwill. They said, “There you can work and also have English classes.” That was music to my ears, and I applied. After a week, I started to work as a 506 stocker. I have been working more than seven years. Through this time I have done 501, 502, 506, and 505. I love my job. I enjoy cleaning and colorizing shoes and purses.

I am thankful to be employed at Goodwill and also an English student. Thanks to English teacher, Aaron and my manager, Julie Olsen. Thanks, Goodwill, for helping people with changing their lives..


By the time she was 11 years old, Linda Sutton was arrested for the first time and sent to residential juvenile detention. Despite her age, she already had more experience with illegal substances than any child should be exposed to. After many relapses, overdoses and drug-related arrests, she worked hard to become an admirable team member at Bridgeway Recovery Services, a rehabilitation center for those struggling with mental health and drug abuse. Despite even COVID-related setbacks, she has built a life and career on compassion and service. Due to her resilience, optimism and passion for helping others, Goodwill Industries International is honoring Sutton as its 2020 Kenneth Shaw Graduate of the Year.

Sutton was only five years old when she smoked marijuana for the first time and nine when she shot methamphetamine for the first time. She grew up with a single mother who worked hard to support her family. Because of her mother’s long work hours, Linda was left under the supervision of her teen sister and sometimes friends of bad character. This exposed Linda to use of hard drugs and sexual abuse.

Her difficult upbringing resulted in the next few decades of her life becoming a blur of substances, prison time and sex trafficking. Sutton was pregnant and miscarried multiple times, overdosed more than once, and claims to have been “mentally gone” for a year due to toxic poisoning from the amount of drugs she was using.

She decided to turn her life around, however, after she was arrested for selling drugs and losing her baby with a former partner. She dedicated her time in prison to recover from addiction. She attended community college upon her release, where she pursued two associate’s degrees and business certifications, and she tutored other students.

Despite her achievements, it seemed to Sutton like no employer was willing to look past her criminal record. It was not until she walked into the Salem Job Connection center at Goodwill’s Lancaster location that she learned how to turn her liability into an asset. Every day, she would network, research and pursue any opportunities with the support of staff. It was not long before she found an opening at Bridgeway Recovery Services, and realized that her background would serve as an advantage in the position.

Sutton worked at Bridgeway for five years before COVID-related layoffs eliminated her position. Although she was originally hired as a receptionist, her adaptability and authenticity allowed her to assume administrative roles with higher levels of responsibility.

My job at Bridgeway was amazing,” Sutton said. “I worked with people that had the same type of barriers and background issues that I had.”

Sutton continues to prove to herself and others that there can be life after addiction. When still with Bridgeway, she found a second, part-time job at Dollar Tree using Goodwill’s Job Connection services. With the additional income, she was able to help finance her own house, where she supports women in transition from the prison system and their children. She mentors them in re-building their credit, and helps provide supervision and tutoring for online learning. She continues to work at Dollar Tree and just accepted a position with the Salem VCA Animal Hospital. Her success story is an inspiration to everyone around her.


After working for many years as a property manager, Karen Esparza was laid-off by her long-time employer. Though she had been very good at her job, and had much experience to offer, her computer skills were limited. She was in her late 50s, and had been in the same position for so long that she felt insecure about looking for new employment. As an added blow to her self-confidence, she had to move in with her daughter or be homeless. In her position as a property manager, she had always lived on the premises of the properties she managed; losing her job also meant losing her home.

Though she was unsure about learning new computer skills, Karen enrolled in classes at the Portland Career Center. Working with Career Center Specialist Maria Moreno, Karen began her first class in early December 2015. In just six weeks, she completed and earned certifications in the following classes:

  • Excel Basic and Intermediate
  • Word Basic and Intermediate
  • PowerPoint Basic and Intermediate
  • ALL of Outlook Essentials

Karen’s Career Center experience had a direct impact on her confidence and success. Taking our classes strengthened her property manager skill set. Having newly-earned certifications demonstrated her interest in continuing education and expanded the knowledge base on her resume. MS Outlook, MS Word, and MS Excel classes helped her respond to the hiring manager’s emails in a timely fashion, helped her write a thank you letter, and strengthened her data analysis and spreadsheet preparation skills. Mock interview preparation prepared her to articulate her strengths.

Karen was hired by the employer she interviewed with and is successful and happy in her new position!


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