Meet Shell Richardson, a Concord business owner, who got her start from a free computer class at Goodwill. Taking the computer class led her into their hospitality and tourism program. Shell says those courses gave her the foundation to move forward.

“Basically it just gives you an overview of the hotel industry. On the very last day of class I was hired at the Hampton inn in university,” she said.

Shell started at the front desk, worked her way up to assistant general manager and then decided it was time to branch out with her own venture. Shell started an event space rental company called Elegant Connexions. She provides space for all kinds of gatherings like showers, business meetings and even photo shoots.

“What I’m trying to do is gradually grow. I want to get enough clients and enough experience so I can grow to the next level,” she told us.

We asked if she would be at this point today, without that first Goodwill computer class…

“Absolutely not! It gave me my foundation. I’ve been involved with Goodwill now for ten years. They’ve helped me in a lot of ways to build my confidence,” she said.

She explained it’s not just the classes, but the support system that Goodwill offers that has made the difference and encourages others to take advantage. In addition to the foundation from Goodwill, Shell said she’s also found a support system in downtown Concord.

“It was the perfect place for me to start. Something small, not too big where I could comfortably grow.”

Shell continues to grow. “I actually just started college two weeks ago!”

She said she wouldn’t have been ready for college ten years ago, but today she’s eager to continue her education and support her business. Shell also serves on the board for Goodwill. Leaders at the company say her role is critical because it keeps them tuned in with what our community really needs and how they can improve their programs.