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Goodwill worker receives car as part of company’s Wheels-to-Work program

WSMV Nashville logo WSMV Nashville 11/23/2021
Sharon Larocque received a car from her employer Goodwill as part of the company's Wheels-to-Work program. © Goodwill Industries of Middle Tennessee

Sharon Larocque received a car from her employer Goodwill as part of the company's Wheels-to-Work program.

NASHVILLE, TN (WSMV) - A Goodwill worker who walks nearly two miles every day to work at a Goodwill warehouse in west Nashville received a donated car on Tuesday through Goodwill’s Wheels-to-Work program.

Since she began rebuilding her life five years ago, Sharon Larocque has had two major goals: finding a place to live and finding a safe and reliable way to get to work. As 2021 nears it end, she can celebrate achieving both goals.

Larocque, a 61-year-old California native, first experienced homelessness after moving to Nashville in 2016. She turned to the Nashville Rescue Mission for a place to stay and shelter staff sent her to Goodwill for help finding employment.

She participated in a job training program in a downtown warehouse, tagging donated clothing to see if she might like the work and be a good fit for permanent employment. She worked diligently and Goodwill hired her as a donations processor.

“For me, since I was at such a low, Goodwill helped a lot,” Larocque said. “There was enough structure and a steady income to where I could pick myself up again.

She accomplished her first goal in 2019, moving into her own apartment.

As her living conditions improved, her daily commute became more difficult. Since then, she has faced a nearly two-mile walk to work through downtown, in all types of weather and sometimes in the dark, depending on the season. She has to be vigilant for people sleeping on sidewalks and for drivers that don’t stop for pedestrians.

“I enjoy walking, it’s just not the best path,” Lorocque said. “You just never know what’s going to happen.”

Despite scrimping and saving, her second goal – obtaining a car – has remained elusive.

On Tuesday, Larocque was presented the keys to a used but reliable 1998 Toyota Camry during a Wheels-to-Work ceremony in downtown Nashville. Goodwill established the program in 2013 to provide vehicles given by donors to Goodwill employees who need reliable transportation to get to work.

“Sharon has been a dedicated and dependable team member at Goodwill for five years, and I’m thrilled that getting to work will no longer be such an obstacle to her life and career,” Matthew Bourlakas, President and CEO of Goodwill Industries of Middle Tennessee, said in a release. “Transportation is a significant barrier to employment and advancement for many people, and this program is one of many ways Goodwill’s donors are helping to change lives.”

Larocque, who now processes jewelry in Goodwill’s e-Commerce Department – – said she would like to work at Goodwill until she retires and having a car will make that possible. It will also improve her life in other ways.

“A lot of people don’t realize how difficult it is having to take two or three buses to get anywhere or having to go to the grocery store three times a week because you can only carry so much,” Larocque said. “This car will give me safety and independence.”


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