Mary Anderson is a busy mom of four with nine grandchildren to keep up with. Her previous job was physically taxing, but then her bishop at The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints encouraged her to apply for a job at the Deseret Industries Thrift Store.
“When you start working here, you actually have a counselor that comes in and talks to you, which is so great, and then we are in training all the time,” Anderson said. “We go through this book with our job coaches and they also help you go to college, or any kind of special school that you want to go to. They also help you build your resume, so you can get a job and keep a job.”
With this experience in her career toolbelt, Anderson hopes to finish her degree in business administration.
“Getting a job here is more than just a job,” Anderson said.
Anderson is one of many employees at Deseret Industries who receive not just a paycheck but also job coaching, résumé building and counseling. These resources give Deseret employees a leg up on the job market competition and push them towards higher-paying jobs in the future.
Anderson was on hand for a grand opening of the thrift store and donation center’s new location at 3850 W. Orange Grove Road. The new spot increased the shop’s capacity by 5,000 square feet and led to more job availability.
Although Deseret is supported by the LDS Church, applicants don’t need to be members to receive employment. Half of the current employees are not members of the church.
Tucson local Beatrice Gonzales is one of those employees. Gonzales was a longtime customer of Deseret at the old location before applying. Employment at Deseret usually lasts one year, so that more people in the community can have access to their job resources. However, Gonzales has been enjoying her experience to the point where she asked to stay longer. She was granted another six months.
“The people that I work with are wonderful people,” Gonzales said. “I love the job coaches, even the ones that aren’t mine. They’re good job coaches. You can come to any one of them whenever there might be a situation you might have or something and they’re always there to listen.”
Gonzales was thankful to her manager, Gary Nelson, for highlighting leadership qualities she didn’t know she had.
“Gary, my manager, just saw qualities in me that I didn’t really see in myself as far as team lead, which is something I never expected to be told that I had that in me,” Gonzales said.
Gonzales plans to continue a career in retail after Deseret.
Nelson said he enjoys training people and seeing them grow throughout their employment at Deseret. Nelson previously worked at several chain grocery stores that he felt treated workers like numbers, easily replaceable. Deseret departs from this by making employees leave feeling empowered and equipped to work a higher-level job.
Nelson recalled an instance of a young woman who previously worked at Deseret. Based on her appearance, one could say this 20-year-old woman was not confident in herself. She also had no job experience. She slowly worked her way through different positions at Deseret and as she went through each job duty she became more confident. Nelson said this young woman became a team lead by the end of her employment at Deseret.
“So here’s this quiet young lady, that now we’re asking her to direct others,” Nelson said, “She rose to the challenge, accepted, and did an outstanding job. Everyone went to her for direction. They never went to the job coach anymore.”
After she showed significant changes in her work performance, Deseret helped her purchase professional attire and start the job hunt. She found a new job within a few weeks. This success story is the goal of Deseret.
“It’s not just for people who have a hard time keeping employment, maybe it’s someone that hasn’t worked for a while and they just want to find out if they can work,” Nelson said.
Deseret Industries is currently looking to hire and coach 20 more employees. Call 520-903-1036 or visit in person at the new location to inquire about employment opportunities. You can also visit their website at deseretindustries.org for more information.
“Deseret Industries is all about hope and opportunity,” President Ken Moeller from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Marana said. “It is a place where one can get a fresh start, gain employment experience, and learn to be a dependable employee. It is a place where people can gain confidence in themselves.”