ALBANY, GA (WALB) - A program in Albany is helping people find work in Southwest Georgia, no matter what their background is.
Goodwill's career center has helped dozens of people find employment.
If you live in Albany, you probably drive by the center often. It's located at 2017 North Slappey Boulevard next to the Goodwill store.
For Jason White, driving by and stopping by just for a few minutes changed his life for the better.
"If you would have told me this a couple of years ago, I would have never believed it could have happened," said White.
The 30-year-old is all smiles now. He's a proud father to five kids and working full-time at two jobs.
"I just really thought it was going to be pretty hard for me to find a job. But I got out May 17, 2017, and July the third was my first day starting work," explained White.
The day he got out was from prison. White said he grew up on the west side of Albany where he was roped into the wrong crowd.
"You want to be what they call "cool." You don't want to feel like your outside, hang out with the crowd and do what they're doing," said White.
White said all he knew was the streets. And those streets eventually turned him into a convicted felon.
After spending 12 and a half months behind bars, White walked into the Goodwill Career Center, eager to build a different kind of record.
"They didn't judge me by my past, my past convictions," explained White. "It was just all about moving forward with my life."
White said for weeks he came to the center, learning everything from making a resume to searching for a job, interview preparation and of course dressing to impress.
He said the people at the center were nice to him and wanted to help in any way they could.
Learning to dress appropriately was a big deal for White. He said he didn't know how you dress for an interview can make a difference in the first impression.
When White applied for his first job at Chipotle, he said there were dozens of people lined up. He said he didn't think there was any way he'd get the job, but he did. He was the only person there that day who got a job.
"They noticed me by the way I dressed," explained White. "She was like I stuck out from everybody that was there."
White said other people who were applying were wearing sundresses or jeans and sneakers. He said one person had an oversized shirt on with large chains around his neck.
White said he wouldn't have learned the skills he did without the help of the career center.
The center White used is free for anyone over 18 who is looking for a job. It is funded by the money made at the store.
Marie Currie, the career center manager said they have tons of success stories like White's.
"The short-term goal for everybody is I need a job and I needed it yesterday. But where do you want to be five years from now and what is it going to take to get you there.," explained Currie. "Those are the types of things we work with them towards."
Currie spent years working for the board of education before taking the job at Goodwill. She said it's extremely rewarding to see all of the people they help.
For some, Currie explained they just need help realizing their full potential. She said often times people don't know all of the skills they can put on their resumes that are selling points.
White's motivation post-prison has helped him succeed. In prison, he said he was able to get a GED. Now, he is thinking about going back to school to get a bachelor's degree.
The career center does offer scholarships for people who don't have their GED. They help people with their GED preparations and help pay for the test.
Since January, four people have received their GED through the Goodwill career center.
If you are interested in learning more about the center you can stop by the center on North Slappey Boulevard or call them at (229) 317-0970.