Man thanks those who helped him go from homeless to hired - Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Memphis man thanks those who helped him go from homeless to hired

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By Anna Marie Hartman - bio | email

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC-TV) - A Memphis man said he went from homeless to hired thanks to hard work, determination and a handful of guardian angels helping him along the way.

Greg Kirkendoll does not fit the stereotype of an American hero.  But if overcoming the obstacles of a failing economy is a superpower, then Kirkendoll is Superman.

"My life has changed," said Kirkendoll.

After being laid off from his job as an inventory clerk, Kirkendoll decided to sharpen his computer skills at New Horizons Learning Center.

"First one in class," said instructor Bobbye Garrity.  "And never missed a class.  He was here every single day."

Three months in, Kirkendoll's life took a dramatic turn when the unemployment checks stopped coming.

"Who knows that in two months you could lose everything," said Kirkendoll.  "In the snap of a finger, it was all gone."

Kirkendoll was a 53-year-old student with no job, no money and no home.

"Man, just yesterday I had a roof over my head," said Kirkendoll.  "You know, today it's just the roof of my car."

Kirkendoll would not give up, and dropping out was not an option.

"To me, this was home," said Kirkendoll.  "I had nowhere else to go."

Getting gas money to get to class meant donating blood twice a week at a local plasma center.

"I spent a lot of nights in my car," he said.

Kirkendoll kept his secret from students and staff for as long as he could

"I had no intention of telling anybody, but it just came out," said Kirkendoll.  "And once I did ... it was like I was in God's house."

Kirkendoll was able to continue his courses with the support of his classmates, his instructors and an education grant from the Workforce Investment Network.

"The Workforce Investment Network and their team is especially equipped to assist you financially in getting back to work," said Kevin Woods with New Horizons Learning Center.

It took eight months for Kirkendoll to land his first job interview.

"When we left for the interview that day, the whole class was cheering for him," said Woods.

Kirkendoll was chosen out of 40 candidates for a warehouse lead position at International Paper.

"I thank God," said Kirkendoll.  "I thank New Horizons.

Bobbye Garrity and her husband, Mike Garrity, also gave Kirkendoll a place to stay while he was learning the skills he needed to get back into the workforce.

"You can't help everybody," said Mike Garrity, "but if you can help one person, then that person helps another and that helps another."

"They're my angels," said Kirkendoll.  "I sit sometimes and think, what is it that I can do for them, because where would I be without them?"

To find out if you qualify for a Workforce Investment Network grant, click here.

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