“I went on the run.”
by Christopher Six, Media Marketing Assistant
Randy Largent lived in Romney until he was 25. An average upbringing, he felt. He grew up without a father and got into trouble on and off, but that didn’t keep him from graduating from high school.
“I got a lot of trouble in school but never anywhere where I got sent to like juvie or anything like that. Nothing that serious,” he explains.
But things got more serious after school, something he blames on drugs, particularly “heroin, the devil.” Soon, he faced four felonies in Virginia. He was “young and dumb,” as he tells it, and was sentenced to probation because he was a first-time offender.
“But my baby’s mom, who I was with at the time, stole a cell phone and was on camera. I was on camera with her, so they were gonna get me as an accessory,” he said. “So that right there would have violated my probation right off the bat before I went in and signed the papers. I just figured I’d leave.”
That meant several years of living as someone else in Fayetteville, North Carolina.
“Basically, I was trying to wait for everything to go away,” he said. “I was homeless for two years; I panhandled, stuff like that. Then I got a job at a glass shop, worked there for about six months, and then moved in with people who owned it. I lived there for three years, almost. And then I just came back here.”
That was in 2020. “I finally got all that court stuff taken care of,” he explains.
Coming back meant being himself again after living under an assumed name for five years. And at first, that also meant living with his mom. But he wouldn’t stay because of his stepdad.
So he stayed with friends. But after getting fired from his job, he was no longer able to contribute to the bills or rent, so he began staying at an abandoned house in the area. That’s when he met Romney store manager Linda Vailati and assistant manager Pam Simms.
“When we would go to the Dollar store or to Food Lion, we would see Randy sitting on the ground outside by the cooler at the end of the shopping center,” explains Vailiti. “One day, we walked down to talk to him just to see if he was okay. What really drew us there was that we could see his dog, which was around the front of the cooler.”
Randy explained to them the difficulties he was having finding work and how his background prevented him from gaining employment, and Linda told him how sometimes Horizon Goodwill could look past some barriers.
That was at the beginning of December. Now, Randy is working at Horizon Goodwill’s Romney store processing textiles. He sorts clothing and wares and hangs and tags clothing to prepare for the sales floor.
“Basically, I’m learning how to process everything back in the back here at Goodwill, stuff like that,” he explains.
“He’s doing an excellent job. He comes to work every day as scheduled. He’s never late. He doesn’t call off,” adds Vailiti. “He has his little dog here that’s his therapy dog. His name is Taco. He’s Romney’s mascot. And Taco’s just as attached to Randy as Randy is to taco. I think they are therapy for each other.”
Taco is a service chihuahua Randy received from people he lived with in North Carolina, who bred them.
“He (Randy) just steadily works. He’s a little concerned about his production. But he just started, so we’re telling him not to worry about that so much.” Vailiti said. “We’re telling him he just started, so he’s got time to work on that. I think he’s kind of a perfectionist … he’s harder on himself than most people are on him. He’s doing very well here.
As far as what the future holds, Randy keeps his expectations modest. Once he gets settled in at the store, he plans to go in with a friend to a place to live downtown.
“I’m here as long as they want me,” he adds. “Or I find something better? I mean, I highly doubt it around here. I can walk here, and my dog comes with me.”
Randy also has two children but feels it is wrong to “push his company” on them.
“I’m not the type of person that I’ve pushed myself on my children because I know I’m not going to come to see them all the time. I’m not going to do that,” he explains. “So I don’t go and see them when it’s convenient for me. That’d be wrong. But if I see them, of course, I socialize with them and things like that.”
Both children live with grandparents.
“My daughter lives with my mom. And my son lives with my babies mom’s mom.”
Randy feels Goodwill gave him an opportunity when others would not.
“Definitely, when nobody else would help me. No other place would hire me,” he says emphatically. “I applied for Food Lion, Family Dollar, everywhere around here. So, yeah, it definitely helped.