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Where are they now: Keone's Story

December 13, 2021

Posted in: Student Stories and Job Training & Education

Standing in front of a new Ford pickup truck, stamped with an insignia for the company he manages, Keone Padilla posed with a glowing smile. The sun was shining that day in Seattle, but that wasn’t the only thing illuminating the expression on his face – but the feeling of “how good life can be” provided a special spark for Keone.

Keone was a student at Evergreen Goodwill a few years ago, and we last heard from him in 2017 when he took the stage for our Glitter Gala fundraising event to share his story. Keone’s story is one of success and perseverance, two things he is, in part, thankful to Goodwill for helping shape in his life.

“Thank God Goodwill has programs at Monroe Correctional Complex,” Keone said. “I met Susan Allen … and she was teaching the job readiness class. I was five-and-a-half years removed from society, so I didn’t really know what to expect.”

Keone was part of Evergreen Goodwill’s reintegration program, which teaches individuals who are incarcerated how to prepare to return to the workforce. The program can help students build a range of skills, like drafting cover letters, creating resumes and filling out job applications.

“Having that tool to transition before I got out was a key component to what we were doing when I got out,” said Keone. “I was like, cover letter, resume – got it.”

Those skills helped him land the position he’s in today, working as a sales manager for Northwest Barricade & Signs.

His position was hardly afforded to him. Keone described his intense dedication to his career and how he’s worked hard, especially through challenges created by the pandemic – all while trying to be present with his family.

“It hasn’t been easy, it’s been hard,” Keone said. “You know, trying to raise a child and grow a business at the same time is a very difficult job.”

Keone says he’s in a good spot right now, though, and “life is good.” He’s now looking to give other people overcoming adverse situations and experiences a chance. He said he’s handed out his business card at just about every Evergreen Goodwill Job Training and Education Center across the North Puget Sound region, hoping to give someone else “a shot.”

“I’m trying to give someone the same opportunity that I have, that’s my goal,” said Keone. “When you’re giving to Goodwill, you guys have programs and things setup, in place, that are trying to help people come off the street, grow, build, and that’s what I’m doing, essentially, but I’m just trying to help them flag.”

Free time is scarce, and when he isn’t spending time with his family, Keone said he’s always looking for opportunities to give back to the community – especially to the organization that helped transform his life.

“I actually started getting more out of Goodwill once I got out, and I started speaking, helping and giving back,” said Keone. “You know, my wife or my son, they’re impacted by the stuff [Goodwill] did, and they didn’t even know who you guys were or go through your classes.”

He has a similar message to others willing to make the selfless decision to volunteer their time to help people imaging a brighter future that transcends incarceration.

“When you’re incarcerated, there’s not a lot of people that come in there and they want to help, and to say, ‘Hey, I’ll help you write a cover letter,’” Keone said. “It just takes somebody to care, somebody to try, somebody to do what Goodwill is doing.”

Keone shared this update about his life while sitting inside a classroom at the King County Job Training & Education Center – one that hundreds of students have passed through. He provided these words of encouragement for anyone considering giving up on their dream.

“You’ve got to get there, you’ve got to stay there, you’ve got to do the hard stuff,” Keone said. “Whatever goal or mission that whatever student’s on – show up, there’s no substitute for dedication.”

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