The Star Beacon; Ashtabula, Ohio

November 11, 2012

Joy Henry — here’s the story behind the Goodwill Girl

Star Beacon

ASHTABULA — Joy Henry started working at Goodwill in October of 2006 as a cashier in the Ashtabula harbor store. She quickly progressed to head cashier and in less than two years was promoted to manager of the Madison Store.

“I truly enjoyed my time at the Madison store,” she said. “My crew members were like family to me.”

Several years ago, Joy became critically ill and it became clear to the staff at Goodwill how hard she was struggling.

“I was in a very abusive relationship and was beaten down to the point where I just didn’t take care of myself,” she said. “I didn’t believe in myself and didn’t realize that I had slowly become very sick.”

Joy finally realized she was deteriorating, took herself to the hospital and discovered she had uncontrolled diabetes and limited movement because of peripheral neuropathy caused by untreated systemic illness.

“The doctor said that I had been sick with type one diabetes for 10 years and had never acknowledged it,” she said. “I spent so much of my time taking care of my alcoholic husband and trying to protect my three children that I just didn’t take care of myself.”

Joy knew she was sick, but she didn’t believe she could afford medical care. Consequently, her health wasn’t a priority.

Goodwill’s production manager at the time talked to Joy and decided to promote her to vocational evaluator so she could sit and recover while continuing to work.

The promotion allowed Joy to obtain medical insurance through Goodwill and treat her diabetes. Joy excelled as an evaluator, but her health took another turn for the worse.

“One day I was in the evaluation room with a client and a helper when I started to get very dizzy,” she said. “I saw rainbows and lost my balance.”

Joy was taken to the emergency room. She suffered a stroke that paralyzed her left side. She spent eight weeks in the hospital. She was unable to talk or move for more than three months and suffered an emotional breakdown.

“After my stroke I wanted to stay at Goodwill. I felt safe and loved there and they placed me in a position that was perfect for me,” she said. “I could no longer read or write and I had to sit down. I was offered a calm position sorting textiles which has been helping me to heal ever since.”

About a year and a half ago she was asked to be the Goodwill spokesperson and now appears in several of the local commercials.

“It makes me so happy when people come up to me and say, ‘I know you, I know you - you are the Goodwill Girl!’” she said. “I love it.”