A Nashville man who landed a job a few years ago by using a job-finding service is now Paying It 4Ward by helping other people find their own new jobs.
Jose Ortega is both optimistic and resilient, but he could have just as easily let the words "gunshot" and "unemployment" determine the rest of his life.
His main job at Goodwill's Career Solutions Center is to help others find a job, as a completely free service Goodwill provides.
"We'll help them, give them job leads and put in applications," Ortega said.
He doesn't normally see many smiles.
"They come in, let's be honest, it's not gonna be all happy smiles. They're worried because they need a job. They've got family," Ortega said.
More than many, Ortega understands tough times. Seven years ago while jogging, he was confronted by a man with a gun.
"He asked me for my money. I didn't have a wallet. The only thing expensive was my shoes," Ortega said. "I started running, and he hit my back, which was my spinal cord."
The bullet changed his life. Ortega has been in a wheelchair ever since, and it ended his career in carpentry, leaving him unemployed and hard to hire.
"I remember every day putting in applications, I wasn't in a rush, but I wanted to feel that energy I used to have before my accident. And Goodwill gave me the chance," Ortega said.
That chance all came because of Goodwill's free training and commitment to people with disabilities.
Three years later, Ortega still works at Goodwill helping others find employment.
"I always stay positive. Everything happens for a reason. It's hard, but if you keep that Colgate smile, I'm pretty sure you're gonna move on and keep thinking positive," he said.
The positive thinking works best when you follow it up with action. Ortega wants more. He's now enrolled at Middle Tennessee State University with his mind set on getting a college degree.
If you think you know someone doing a great job Paying It 4Ward in our community, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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