Meet Shirley

Goodwill Excel Center Graduate

“My life is amazing! My fiancé has been the best cheerleader. My kids – sons, daughter-in-laws – stuck by me through [it] all.”

Due to community demand, Shirley remained on The Goodwill Excel Center waitlist for almost a year before getting her spot. During that time, she called Rita at the front desk every week to ask where she was on the list. Shirley had already overcome huge obstacles, and she was determined to change her life!

Shirley’s journey to Goodwill started when she was still in junior high school. She dropped out of school in the sixth grade, was married by the time she was 13, and soon had four sons to care for. Shirley had little adult guidance and no career prospects. After a couple of years living on the streets, she found herself addicted and headed to prison.

While still in prison, Shirley took the opportunity to make some big changes. She began attending AA meetings and going to church. She decided to clean up her life, and be the kind of parent she had always dreamed of being when she finally got out.

But there was still something missing…her education. And Shirley knew that she was over 26, the age limit to earn a high school diploma in Texas.

One day, as she was shopping at the Goodwill Riverside Store, a store employee told her about The Goodwill Excel Center – a new charter school for adults in Central Texas. The next day Shirley picked up the phone, and made a call that would change her life!

She was scared to go back to school at 48, but she credits her Life Coach and teachers for their guidance and easing her transition. Says Shirley, “They were so caring and encouraging. They made me feel accepted and not judged.”

Today, Shirley is a high school graduate! She was also awarded The Winnie Maciver Gage Scholarship, which provides financial assistance to women pursuing post-secondary education. Shirley will begin attending Austin Community College starting this summer. Along with the help of Goodwill, Shirley credits God with directing her path, and plans to become a Certified Substance Abuse Counselor.

Shirley plans to Pay-It-Forward!

Shirley says proudly “My life is amazing! My fiancé has been the best cheerleader. My kids – sons, daughter-in-laws, and grandkids – stuck by me through [it] all.”