Eight years ago, Gina Casteal found herself homeless. With the encouragement and help of her loved ones, she entered and successfully completed the North Texas Institute for Career Development’s CDL (commercial driver’s license) training program, an offering of Goodwill Industries of Fort Worth.
Since then, Casteal has thrived as a Goodwill team member and given her children a chance at a better life.
To honor her exemplary hard work and resilience, Goodwill Industries International has named Casteal its 2020 Achiever of the Year, Goodwill said in a news release.
Casteal struggled for years to find a job because she was a single mother of four with a criminal record. After the bank foreclosed on her house, she and her children were forced to bounce around, living with family, friends and even out of their car for a period of time.
In 2013, Casteal’s stepfather persuaded her to give the CDL training program a chance. She agreed, and her children would often help her study the material. She says it is their unconditional love and support that pushed her to successfully complete the program despite being the only woman in her class and having no prior driving experience.
“Before Goodwill, I was at a hopeless state,” she said. “I felt like I was letting [my children] down. But Goodwill helped me through school, get a job and provide a home for my kids. I can look my kids in the eye again, and they are so proud of me.”
Casteal is currently an employee at Goodwill Fort Worth, where she transports donated goods to and from donation centers, the Goodwill warehouse and area Goodwill stores.
She and her family applied for an interest free mortgage home through Trinity Habitat for Humanity, and, in 2018, their home was built.
When her son Romane applied to college, Casteal asked for help from the GoodLife program — a program at Goodwill Fort Worth meant to improve employees’ well-being. She was given several resources that helped her son earn a full scholarship to Texas Christian University (TCU).
Casteal’s strong work ethic and drive has helped her become a role model for those who are struggling financially. She is dedicated to helping others take advantage of the opportunities available to them and realize their true potential, Goodwill said in the news release.
“Gina Casteal has overcome many obstacles and challenges that for some would be insurmountable and for that, we are honored to recognize her as the Achiever of the Year,” says Steven C. Preston, president and CEO of Goodwill Industries International. “She has found courage and hard work to be the catalyst for change in her life. Gina truly personifies the Goodwill mission.”
Goodwill Industries International’s Achiever of the Year is awarded to a person who has shown great progress and accomplishment in overcoming challenges to finding employment, and who still benefits from the Goodwill work environment or receives services to support employment at a community site.