PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Linda Sutton was in jail when she was just 11 years old. In the following years she was arrested for meth, other drugs and prostitution.
“I started experimenting with different kinds of drug use at the age of 5, mostly marijuana is what started it off,” she told KOIN 6 News.
During her last stint in prison, she decided enough was enough and took some education programs while she was behind bars. Now the Salem woman has received national recognition for turning her life around in a big way with the help of Goodwill Job Connections.
And she’s paying it forward.
Sutton had a hard time finding a job after getting out of prison because of her background. That’s where Goodwill Job Connections stepped in.
“They just need direction and encouragement. It’s hard to self promote, it’s really hard for anybody,” Goodwill’s Dale Emanuel said. “In the case of Linda she needed to find an employer who wasn’t disappointed with her background issues, but was mighty impressed with her abilities.”
Sutton was connected with a job at Bridgeway Recovery Services, a rehab center where she was promoted several times within 5 years.
COVID-related layoffs eliminated her job this year but once again Goodwill connected her with new employment. Recently she was named Goodwill Industries International’s Kenneth Shaw Graduate of 2020, which honors an outstanding person for completing a Goodwill Industries career program.
“The education they give us is going to be the turning point that breaks that chain that cycle of addiction, of joblessness, of homelessness,” she said at the awards ceremony.
Linda Sutton was able to buy a home and now she’s housing and mentoring a couple women in transition from the prison system and their children.
Goodwill changed her life’s trajectory, she said.
“They have embraced me. I feel like they’re my family. I’ve connected with Goodwill Job Connections on a different level and I’m now trying to guide people through those same things so I can pay it forward. And that is where I shine, what makes me happy.”