Tonia Gibson has worked at the East Ridge Goodwill store for only about three weeks. But for her, it’s been a big step toward healing and closure. In many ways, she believes her employment “was meant to be.”

Tonia (pronounced ‘Tone-yah’) was searching online for a job after moving to East Ridge. Post after post kept showing jobs open at Goodwill. Something stirred inside – a leaning, an inclination, she said recently. Did Goodwill simply have lots of job openings? Or was it something else? It was as though she was supposed to work for Goodwill.

Goodwill HELPs, she recalled, had been given much-needed assistance to her sister, who before her death had been a paraplegic due to a devastating car accident. The durable medical equipment service provided a new wheelchair, a potty chair, a bath bench and more after the family’s insurance and Medicaid assistance had tapped out.

Tonia’s sister died two years ago. That, coupled with the death of her own daughter in July 2016, had taken a hard toll on Tonia’s psyche. She needed a change. At 61, she packed up; moved to East Ridge; and started job hunting.

Following her “inner urgings,” she looked to Goodwill – first at the Ft. Oglethorpe store where the open position had been filled and then at East Ridge (after all, she only lives minutes away). As luck (or something) would have it, she was hired – on the spot – at the East Ridge store as a part-time sales associate.

“Goodwill helped us out so much with my sister when no one else could help,” she said. Her new job has become her passion. “I absolutely love it. I love it with a passion. I love how interested Goodwill is about helping people.” Tonia would like to work into a full-time position. But for now, she said, she’s content. ” I think I was meant to work for Goodwill.”