Ashley Yarbrough agrees she has had challenges in her 29 years of life. Who hasn’t, she asks? And she wants to use her struggles to help others. “I want to be an inspiration and blessing to everyone who comes through the doors.” But difficulties caused by her mild cerebral palsy aren’t necessarily one of her struggles. She meets those head on.
She has her own car, which she learned to drive using her left hand and foot because her right hand draws up and her right foot turns inward. She drives to Chattanooga Goodwill’s Dodds Avenue offices every day from an apartment on Shallowford Road where she lives with her mother. Ashley hopes to move out one of these days. But when that happens, it won’t be the first time she has lived on her own.
Ashley, referred to Goodwill by the Tennessee Department of Vocational Rehabilitation, has been a client in the Employment Services program. On March 6, she will begin a job as an Administrative Assistant at the Dodds Avenue offices. She will be greeting visitors, answering phones, assisting HELPs clients, helping with data entry and other tasks as needed. And she will assist clients with learning office skills. This won’t be Ashley’s first paying job. She was held cashier positions at Wal-Mart, as well.
She attended Tyner High School, although due to emotional issues, she didn’t graduate. Instead Ashley sought help through Mercy Ministries Inc., in Nashville, and after completing that program, she earned her GED in August 2013.
“I don’t know what it’s like not to want to get out and about,” she said. “There just so much to do!”
She embraces her struggles. “They have made me a lot stronger. I’m actually thankful for it all. (Struggles) can be abling or disabling. And I chose to allow it to make be stronger.”
And she’s grateful Goodwill is helping her succeed. “I had been trying to figure out how to find a long-term job, and I landed here – thankfully, because I love it. This is my dream job. There’s no judgment around here. You can do anything and not get pushed away. I want to do anything I’m capable of. ”
However, Ashley admits, there is one thing she’s not able to do.
“I’m incapable of meeting a stranger.”