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Just the right fit

“ONE OF THE THINGS I like best about working at Goodwill is that here, it’s all about recycling and reusing. And with my background in conservation, that was really important to me,” said Jody Peterson.

After earning a bachelor of science degree in natural resources and soil conservation from the University of Minnesota Crookston, Jody worked for the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Soil Conservation Services doing survey work as well as technical drawings.   

She moved on to work in a garden center and then for the U.S. Postal Service as a mail carrier for 14 years. Jody enjoyed all three of these diverse careers very much. 

 But in November 2003, Jody suffered an aneurysm which left her with significant physical disabilities. Following her initial hospitalization, Jody lived at Courage Kenny Rehabilitation Institute’s residential facility in Golden Valley and a rehabilitation facility for more than a year to learn new ways of doing daily tasks.
   
“It was a really big adjustment,” Jody remembered. “As I got stronger, I realized that what I really wanted to do was to get back to work again,” said Jody. 

 She enrolled in Rise’s Connections program in 2005 for people with brain injuries and other physical disabilities and worked for about ten years on a wide range of production subcontracts. Last summer, she felt ready for a change. 

 Placement Specialist Mary Steinmetz assisted Jody with her career plan and job search. When she learned of an opening at the Goodwill store in Maple Grove, Jody thought it would suit her well. She works three days a week doing a variety of tasks on the sales floor, including putting newly donated items out, assisting customers, straightening merchandise, and doing price checks for the cashiers.

 “I like having so many things to do and there’s always something new to learn; the time goes by really fast,” Jody said. “I’m blessed to have really good co-workers that I can connect with.” Mary checks in with Jody on a regular basis to ensure things continue to go well.

 In her free time, Jody enjoys volunteering with the City of Plymouth’s Parks and Recreation Department on gardening and planting projects and as a greeter for children’s programs.

This article appears in the March 2016 issue of the Rise Reporter.