Brandon Reed would be the first to tell you that his life hasn’t been easy. He will also tell you he’s made mistakes along the way that contributed to the rough times. He accepts responsibility for where life has taken him. At age 17, while attending the University of Texas at Arlington, his brother was killed in a firefight during a carjacking. This event hit Reed hard. He blamed himself for his brother’s death because he wasn’t there. While suffering with depression and withdrawal, his life began to spiral out of control. He began to sell and distribute drugs and excused the actions as a method to pay for college. He eventually dropped out of college. Shortly thereafter, Reed was caught distributing drugs and spent time incarcerated. For many, this experience would shape the remainder of their life, but Reed would become a success story.
During his incarceration, Reed spent his recreation time lifting weights. His initial goal was to benefit his mental and overall health. He also began to consider life after incarceration. “I didn’t want to go back to the lifestyle that got me locked up,” said Reed. His weightlifting inspired him with not just a healthier lifestyle, but also a career path. His desire to own a gym was born. Reed believed that owning a gym and becoming a trainer would enable him to assist others and help them achieve their goals for better health. Helping others reach their goals would also facilitate him reaching his goal.
Prior to his release Reed shared his dream with some family members. Their response wasn’t as encouraging as he hoped. They felt it would be good if he could just come home and get a job. “They meant well, and I knew that I needed to work, but that it wouldn’t be easy finding a job,” he said. After his release from prison, finding employment with decent pay was difficult and discouraging. Then an opportunity came his way through Goodwill.
“This chance to work at Goodwill came at the right time for me. I was excited. It came at a time when I was losing hope,” said Reed. Goodwill North Central Texas is more than thrift store. Their mission is to create lives of independence and build a stronger local community for people with disabilities, people experiencing homelessness, veterans, at risk youth and the formerly incarcerated. As a not-for-profit leader, the focus of Goodwill is on changing lives as they offer job training and other services to help people with disabilities and disadvantages achieve their maximum independence. Through Goodwill, job seekers, individuals with special needs, families, and other members of our community gain self-esteem and become independent, self-sufficient citizens.
Reed credits Goodwill for playing a huge part in achieving his dream and helping him see that he had value. “When I first got out of prison, I lacked self-esteem and confidence. I was turned down for several jobs which didn’t help. Goodwill took a chance on me; they hired me when others wouldn’t. Those other jobs just saw my record and nothing else. Goodwill saw me as a human being worth investing in. So, I took several of the qualities I saw at Goodwill—their compassion, their patience, and having great service—and brought those things with me into the fitness industry. Being at Goodwill made a world of difference. They became family,” said Reed.
To read the full story, click on the cover of the April 2023 edition