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  • Local Goodwill employee credits military experience for her success in business | Collierville Independent

Local Goodwill employee credits military experience for her success in business | Collierville Independent

Most only see “top secret” military operations in the movies. goodwill

However, Rosa Barbarito, a Navy veteran and assistant team leader at Memphis Goodwill’s Collierville retail store, actually lived it during her military service.

Barbarito joined the U.S. Navy right out of high school. She went into radio communications and was assigned to handle top secret, classified information while stationed at Keflavik, Iceland.

She transmitted vital mission information to the pilots via coded messages during NATO exercises and was entrusted to transmit that information to high level officials via the red phone to the White House. She proudly served her country for three years.

Barbarito married, became pregnant and received an honorable discharge. “Back in those days if you were on call when you got pregnant that was the end of your career,” she said.

Her civilian life took her to positions as a dental assistant in Puerto Rico, a daycare owner in New York, and finally, as a store manager for NY&Co, a retail clothing chain. While there, she realized working in the retail industry was for her.

After falling in love with Memphis during a 2005 visit, Rosa and her husband moved here, and she went to work in a high-end retail chain. She decided it wasn’t the right place for her and started looking for other opportunities.

“I answered an ad that said the company was looking for energetic and detail-oriented individuals for work in retail. I had no idea that the ad was for Memphis Goodwill. All I knew was – that’s me.” said Barbarito.

“During a tour of the store at Stage, I decided I liked this and wanted to try it,” said Rosa. Her first week at Goodwill was training as a donor greeter with two other managers-in-training. “The work was hard and I wasn’t sure if I would make it, but God sent Don Landon (her store manager) and he gave me a pep talk that helped me see how important this was,” she said. Noting that God works in mysterious ways, Rosa says another conversation with a corporate recruiter convinced her that “this was a sign that Goodwill was where God wanted me.”

She has been with Memphis Goodwill for the last four years, serving as an assistant team leader at some of the organization’s large stores.

Barbarito credits her military training and service with giving her the work ethic and structure that’s helped her succeed in her job.

However, she gives her customers all the credit for making her position rewarding.

“I have customers that have followed me from store to store. We exchange plants, recipes, prayers and stories,” said Barbarito. “They are as much a part of my life as I am of theirs. Seeing people’s lives change is what makes me happy.”

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