An unemployed single mother of four teenagers recently landed a new job at Goodwill in Dawson County.
Until Goodwill opened its new store Friday, Rebecca Jones had been unemployed more than a year.
Having this job is going to change my life, she said.
This time last year, Jones had to break the news to her children there would be no new clothes or shoes for school.
That was really hard, but we got through it, Jones said. Now, this year, we can get clothes and maybe shoes. Its really unbelievable. The people at Goodwill have been so good to me and so supportive.
Jones works full-time at the new store, located in the Ingles shopping center at the corner of Highways 400 and 53.
Dawson County resident Scott Hyatt worked construction for 20 years until the recession hit in 2007.
Ive been working a lot of odd jobs, and this is the first job Ive had in a long time where I get to work 40 hours a week, every week, Hyatt said.
More than an hour before Goodwill opened its 12,500-square-foot store, hundreds of people weaved a waiting line past empty storefronts at the shopping center, lingering reminders of the still struggling economy.
A Dawson sheriffs deputy was stationed at the entrance of the store.
Several residents from nearby Dahlonega made the 20-minute trip looking for bargains.
Goodwill is one of my favorite stores to stop, Celeste Wilkerson said. This is the closest one to my house.
Mary Kozak was equally enthusiastic.
I came because of the bargains, and Im so happy that now theres finally a store close to home, she said. Im going to be here all the time.
Tom Dahl made a long trip from Clayton County.
We hit all the grand openings, he said. Its worth the drive.
The event marked the opening of Goodwill of North Georgias 48th store, and the first of six stores and career training centers scheduled to open this fiscal year.
Proceeds from the sale of donated goods will help support a variety of job training programs and employment services.
Goodwill of North Georgia recognizes that every day thousands of men and women face barriers that make it difficult for them to find work and earn a paycheck to support their families, said Raymond Bishop, president and CEO of Goodwill North Georgia. This can be due to lack of training or education, limited job skills, or even disability. However, with the support of local donors and shoppers like you, we can make the world a better place and overcome those barriers.