A journey from despair to inspiration
Manufacturing plants are the economic lifeblood of many communities across Georgia.
But for Linda Williams, the plant she works for is more than a means for earning a living and providing for her family: It quite literally saved her life. Williams, who was once homeless and a victim of domestic abuse, was also an alcoholic.
Williams is the Georgia Manufacturing Extension Partnership’s October Face of Manufacturing, and credits her boss and coworkers at MeadWestvaco (now WestRock) in Atlanta for helping her overcome the darkest periods of her life.
“My boss recognized the situation and reached out to me. MWV gave me the time I needed to get better,” said Williams, who is the plant’s quality supervisor. “This company saved my life, and I will be eternally grateful.”
Manufacturing is a key economic sector in Georgia. For the more than 365,000 Georgians who work in manufacturing, the Faces of Manufacturing series shows how the industry sustains communities and keeps them economically strong. And it also shows how, on a more personal level, they make a difference in peoples’ lives, in ways that aren’t so obvious.
Williams, who has been sober for 15 years, said her coworkers’ intervention to help her heal her life is not unlike the manufacturing process. “Everything is inter-connected,” she said. In any manufacturing process, everything needs to work for the entire process to run smoothly. If one part along the process is broken, everything else can be thrown off-kilter.
Williams isn’t the only person MVW has helped to overcome personal challenges, and the company’s culture of supporting a team- and family-oriented environment sets it apart, she said.
She said she is proud to work in a manufacturing environment where success isn’t only measured by the bottom line, but also by the personal triumphs of its individual employees.
Today she shares her story — speaking openly and publicly about her struggles and how she overcame them — hoping to empower others who are going through similar challenges.
“They saw something in me worth saving,” Williams said, adding it’s her duty to share her journey with others to show there is hope to overcome whatever struggles they may be facing.
“I give people the tools and resources they need to move ahead,” Williams said. “And to realize there are other choices in life, and there is light at the end of the tunnel.”