Success Stories

Career Adviser Tangie started as a Goodwill client, now helps others reach personal stability

Tangie, a career adviser at Goodwill gets a kiss on the nose from her young son
Tangie Ripley, Goodwill career adviser

Tangie Ripley is easy to talk to. It’s one of the qualities that makes her a great career advisor at Goodwill Northern New England in Belfast, Maine. She’s welcoming and funny, but her relatability comes from more than just her lively and good-humored personality — it comes from personal experience. She has walked in the same shoes as many of her clients. She has felt the daunting strain of life’s challenges. After all, she was once a client at Goodwill too.

Eight years ago, when Tangie was in her teens, she was 8.5 months pregnant and needed a job.

“I was nothing short of rough around the edges,” she said. “I was a spitfire.”

She’d been working as a certified nursing assistant, and while she’s always had a passion for healthcare, she was searching for something else. Tangie has an identical twin sister who was working with Sheila Muldoon, a career advisor at Goodwill. So her sister asked around.

“She was like, ‘I’ve got this friend and I want to bring her here. She needs a job.’ That ‘friend’ happened to be me.”

Sheila asked Tangie to come in so they could meet and talk and see what opportunities there might be for her. Straight away Sheila put Tangie to work in the Workforce Solutions front office.

Soon after Tangie gave birth to her son, and she knew it was time for serious change.

“It was time to grow up and get my act together,” she said. “I just can’t be doing the same old stuff. I was 18 and had a whole other human being I was in charge of. I just want to be someone my son is proud of.”

Tangie’s role at Goodwill was part of a “paid work experience,” which gives people a paid opportunity to try out a job to gain work experience that will help them grow into new positions and careers. Roles typically last for 10-12 weeks. Tangie took to the job so well, she stayed for two years.

Eventually Sheila hooked her up with a new job as an administrative assistant at a healthcare facility in midcoast Maine. Tangie was thrilled to be back in healthcare, but was butting heads with the owner. When a position opened up for an employee specialist with Goodwill Northern New England, Sheila encouraged Tangie to apply. She was offered the job right away.

Experience helps

Working hand-in-hand with Sheila, Tangie took over the youth caseload, working with young people ages 16-24, some of whom were enrolled in traditional high school or had graduated, dropped out, or were attending adult ed. She was the same age as many of the clients she was serving, and it wasn’t that long ago that she came out of the program herself, so she had a helpful perspective.

“I know what it feels like to be in these youths’ position,” Tangie said. “I’ve been where they’ve been. When I was that age and I was working with people who were trying to help me, my mindset was very much, ‘You have no idea, you don’t know what it’s like.’”

But Tangie did know what it was like, and she remembered very well how stuck she’d felt.

“You feel like this is it, I’ll be in this type of lifestyle all my life. You can’t do better than what you’re doing,” she said. “I can feel that, which makes (clients) more comfortable with me.”

While she worked full time and raised her son, Tangie also took night classes through Southern New Hampshire University. Two courses every eight weeks for a year and a half.

“I am a single mom, I did this on my own,” she said. “I went to college and got a bachelor’s degree while working a full-time job. So many times I wanted to quit.”

On top of juggling motherhood, work, and school, her son was also diagnosed with childhood apraxia, which affects speech development. It wasn’t easy. “I understand the struggle,” she said.

But she forged ahead, always with her goals in mind.

“I’m trying to live a life and be the best mom, be the best employee,” she said.

Tangie is now a career advisor serving Knox, Waldo, and Lincoln Counties in Maine. She’s been employed by Goodwill of Northern New England for 5 years.

In the future she envisions herself working in healthcare administration. “I’m actually the geekiest person. I love data sheets and spreadsheets.” She also likes to boss people around, she joked.

Right now, she’s using her been-there wisdom, her humor, and her compassion to help others gain a similar independence and a new vision for their own futures.

“(The clients) need to hear success,” she said. “When they’re feeling like the world’s against them, I’ll share my story. I’ll tell them, ‘I’ve been where you are. If we just keep going, we’ll get to the other side of this.’”

Note: As of the publishing of this story, Tangie was promoted to “Healthcare Career Adviser” with Workforce Solutions.

Like this? Share it: