Sharie Blackburn, an Astoria native, has spent the past five years overcoming her post-traumatic stress disorder as a result of domestic violence, earning her GED and finding work at Goodwill.
She recalled feeling scared and shell-shocked after leaving her abusive marriage five years ago.
But rather than wallow, Sharie Blackburn decided to keep moving forward and be a role model for her three daughters.
“People think they are a victim and they have to remain a victim,” Blackburn said. “You don’t have to remain a victim. You can stand up and say ‘I’m better than this and I can do better than this.’”
For Blackburn, an Astoria native, she spent the next few years overcoming her post-traumatic stress disorder as a result of the domestic violence, earning her GED certificate and finding work.
She joined Goodwill in Warrenton part time two years ago and worked her way up to a full-time position in the shoe department. Working at Goodwill has offered her flexible hours as a single mother, and a way to give back by helping others in need.
“I needed a job and no one would hire me because I could only work certain hours. Day cares aren’t open all the time,” Blackburn said. “No one was willing to work with me and give me a break. I am a hard and dependable worker. I like what Goodwill is about — to help others in need.”
She spends her work days organizing donations and connecting people with the donated items. She often meets people who have been in similar situations as her.
A couple months after her 18th birthday, she moved to Grand Rapids, Mich., with her ex-husband, who she was still with at the time. Six months later, she was pregnant with her first daughter. She left high school in Grand Rapids and moved back to Astoria with her ex-husband.
“I tried to go back to high school, but breastfeeding a child and going to high school didn’t mix very well,” Blackburn, 29, said.
She had two more children with her ex-husband. Her children are 10, 8 and 6 years old.
Her marriage began to collapse from the abuse, and she left him after about 10 years together.
She then moved to Dallas, Ore., with some close friends, one is the godmother to her daughters. She took office assistance and retail training classes at the community college in Dallas and earned her GED.
Before joining Goodwill, Blackburn struggled to find work and enrolled in the Department of Human Services Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program that assists pregnant women and families with one or more dependent child. The program helps pay for food, shelter, utilities and expenses other than medical.
“It’s cash assistance for people like me. I couldn’t get a job. I’m a single parent. I needed money to take care of my kids. Their dad does pay child support, but it’s not enough to cover the day care bill. I needed money to buy the necessities,” Blackburn said.
Now that she works full-time, Sharie can take her kids bowling or to the movies among other activities.
Goodwill spokeswoman Dale Emanuel said 72.2 percent of the people hired at Goodwill have barriers to employment. Blackburn is part of that majority.
“All she wants to do is be the best role model for her kids,” Emanuel said.
When asked if she considers herself a role model, Blackburn said she questions herself about it every day and hopes her children see her that way, at least when they are older.
“I show my kids it’s OK to say ‘I’m hurting,’ and get out of a situation,” Blackburn said. “You can’t give up. You can’t freeze in life and stay in the corner.”
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