Where he sits now is far from where he used to be. Mark Petersen struggled with alcohol. He struggled with employment working for years in the food industry with little hope for change.
"I figured that at my age, this is what I chose in life, restaurants. It's too late for me to go on try something new," Petersen said.
Last fall, he found the Bankwork$ program put on by Goodwill Industries. In the back of the large thrift store near the corner of Iliff and Chambers in Aurora, Candice Sporhase runs a program teaching people how to enter a career in banking.
"We're changing lives from the inside out," Sporhase , program coordinator, said. "Each individual that is here has some barrier or perceived barrier to employment."
Petersen participated in the first-ever class in Colorado.
"I didn't realize the opportunity that I had in the beginning days," Petersen said.
Bankwork$ is an intensive, unpaid, eight-week training program offered free to people from around the metro area.
"We focus a lot of energy on soft skills," Sporhase said. "That would include interview skills, effective communication, listening."
Then, Sporhase says, she trains students in specific banking skills to be prepared to handle their own money drawer and deal directly with customers. Peterson now works as a personal banker for US Bank.
"I'll be honest with you, not everyone who completes the course ends up getting a job in banking," Petersen said.
He says trainees must be determined and willing to learn.
"Between three days-a-week in school and four days-a-week working, I didn't have a day off for two months," Petersen said.
Sporhase wants to give her students all the tools to succeed because she says not only do they need the work, local banks say they need this program to fill an ongoing need for job candidates.
"We are not able to meet our mission without our bank partners," Sporhase said.
During one of the training sessions, the president of US Bank Colorado, Hassen Salem, talked with students before offering the program a $20,000 donation.
"It's really important for us to establish that pipeline and to establish it in a variety of communities," Salem said.
The trainees come from a diverse background. Some are lifetime Colorado natives. Others are refugees from war-torn countries. The next Bankwork$ graduation will be in March where trainees will have a graduation ceremony before interviewing local banks looking to hire.
Petersen says this program has changed his life.
"I had reached a point where I just felt like I couldn't do anything right. I couldn't right the course," Petersen said. "They're providing me with everything that I need in order to reach my dreams."