Success Stories

Rutland Job Connection helps Melissa keep her business open, and her family healthy

A happy woman smiles

We received this letter from a Rutland, Vermont workforce participant and we had to share her success:

My name is Melissa Van Guilder (formerly Shanholtzer), and I am writing to share my experiences with Goodwill Northern New England. I literally had zero idea what Goodwill did, I just happen to know Sherri Prouty, and she said that sometimes Goodwill helps people (she was not quite that vague). I was going through a very trying time of my life. My adult son has cancer, I own a small business directly impacted by COVID, my husband is a Marine veteran with high blood pressure. My grandson, 13, also is a big part of the picture. I looked into Goodwill because of Sherri Prouty, but I received assistance from both Career Adviser Sherri and my Life Navigator Sarah Mendiola.

My car had the engine blown, I had an exceptionally stressful time at home. I was changing my son’s bandages, remote-educating my grandson, and living with a high anxiety spouse with high blood pressure.  Sherri and Sarah came to my place of business and sat and talked and had tea. They listened to my crap, giving kind suggestions, or just being supportive, not just, “here’s some $ for your problems.” They went above and beyond, and kept me mentally stable enough to work through all my traumas.

I was shown how to apply to the hospital for bill forgiveness, which gave my son care when Medicaid refused to do second or third MRIs because a hospital employee botched the paperwork. He was covered for the multiple trips to the ER. I received thousands of dollars from Goodwill to pay for my car repairs, keeping me mobile and able to drive my son to the ER or bring my grandson back and forth from Burlington. My husband was even impacted by the kindness. He reached out too, and his being a veteran, applied the rest of the money towards the car repair.

Fast forward, my son was arrested while still having cancer, for something he had done years ago. It was a big wave of craziness, and he had to leave our home. Those Goodwill ladies have listened to me, let me cry, and asked if there was anything they could do. I said, not unless you have a magic laptop or computer … I’m typing this on the laptop that Goodwill provided me.

I am editing this to save time and space, but to sum it all up, if those Goodwill ladies hadn’t helped me, I would have closed my business, possibly lost my son to cancer, possibly lost my husband to PTSD (non-military) and high blood pressure, and lost the ability to help my grandson go through his own issues with his dad’s health and arrest. I’m crying writing this, because it’s still very hard, and my heart and soul are filled with appreciation for all that was done for me and my family. The compassion and understanding were the most impactful, as I have never felt so alone and overwhelmed.

The two ladies are an incredible team, and they have helped me immensely.

Thank you very sincerely,


Wow! Thank you for sharing your story, Melissa. Your work to get to stability is inspiring.

Goodwill’s Workforce Services in Rutland, Vermont uses the Job Connection model, which offers participants a wrap-around approach, as Melissa wrote about. People can receive help on resumes, job searches, and mock interviews with a Goodwill Career Adviser, but they also have a Life Navigator who helps work though all of life’s problems that can stand in the way of work and personal stability. In short, the team in Rutland assists individuals in removing/reducing life barriers that negatively impact employment. In Melissa’s case that also included helping Melissa refinance her home in order to get funds to replace a furnace as well as reduce mortgage payment. It’s way more than just a bit of job help because Job Connection recognizes how all parts of life affect a person’s work.

GoodTech is a program where Goodwill accepts computer donations at all stores, and then refurbishes those computers and gets them to people who need them. That program connected Melissa to a computer, thanks to her Job Connection team.

Three women smile through masks
Melissa and her Goodwill team

*Melissa’s story was lightly edited, for clarity.

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