During a Goodwill Job Readiness Program class, Ebony Cole, standing, teaches, seated from left, Aaneissa Shannon, Mikayla Smith and Janea McNeal. Photo by Clint Confehr

By Clint Confehr

NASHVILLE, TN — She wants to be a civil rights lawyer. He wants to be a surgeon. She’s 15. He’s 14.

Calvalina Hunter’s life is looking up this summer at a summer work program conducted by the Goodwill on Herman Street. Photo by Clint Confehr

“When I was little, I wanted to help my grandmother” who had heart surgery, says Stephan Johnson-Taylor of Madison. He was in first grade then.

Stephan will be studying at Hunters Lane High School in the fall.

Aaneissa Shannon of Bellevue wants to fight for and defend people in court. She’s studying at Martin Luther King Magnet at Pearl High School this fall.

This summer they’re in a class taught by Ebony Cole at Goodwill Career Solutions, 937 Herman St. They’re in the Job Readiness Program for students age 14-18 from low-income homes or who have disabilities but can participate without one-on-one support. The program with about a dozen students ends July 3. Focusing on career awareness, customer service and personal finances, the class teaches how to find jobs, completing applications and interviewing skills. Students visit colleges, practice for job interviews and participate in service projects. They’re paid a stipend based on attendance, punctuality and participation.

“I call it business school,” Stephan said.

Aaneissa: “I just call it work.” She anticipates being paid $200 and will put it in a bank

A job readiness class for students age 14-18 includes a visit to college campuses during the Goodwill program June 4 through July 3. Photo submitted

account her parents set-up for her years ago.

Aaneissa and Stephan have little brothers who, they say, would benefit from the training.

Separately, the Goodwill’s Summer Youth Work Program employs young people age 16-22, depending on their circumstances.

Cavalina Hunter, 17, of Cumberland View, recently graduated from Pearl-Cohn Entertainment Magnet School. In addition to working for relatives, Cavalina is employed at Goodwill sorting donations, and at a Kroger grocery where she resets shelves, and cleans the break room and windows.

It will help her get other jobs by having proof that she knows the importance of “getting it right the first time,” and “not being lazy,” Cavalina said. She’s paid minimum wage; $7.25 per hour.

Goodwill Industries of Tennessee employs a total of nearly 1,800 people.

Keon Smith, left, talks with Carmella Anastacio, center, and Shalita Simmons, right, during a mock interview to sharpen his skills for when he’s landing a job. Photo submitted

Both summer programs are sponsored by Goodwill and the Metropolitan Development and Housing Agency of Nashville and Davidson County. Kroger also provides funding for students who receive work training in its stores. A local Bank of America office vice president taught the job readiness students about banking. Deloitte LLP, the audit, consulting, tax and advisory service at 1033 Demonbreun St., provided associates to conduct mock interviews to give students experience before applying for work.

Goodwill Mission Integration Director Debbie Grant started the summer work program in 1989.

“There are a lot good, young people who need to learn how to respect themselves and others, and how work helps them develop that,” Grant said. “In a lot of places where we have students work, the employees become more involved.”

For 60 years, the Goodwill here has provided job training and job placement at no charge to people with disabilities or other barriers to employment through the sale of donated items.

Clint Confehr

Clint Confehr — an American journalist since 1972 — first wrote for The Tennessee Tribune in 1999. His news writing and photography in South Central Tennessee and the Nashville Metropolitan Statistical...