Goodwill Success Stories
Each individual who seeks services at Goodwill has had to deal with some type of hurdle, and the struggles are as different as the individuals themselves. Employees on Goodwill’s Workforce Development team take the time to understand the barriers in each consumer’s life and devise an employment training program specific to the consumers’ needs. Following are some examples of how Goodwill’s programs can change people’s lives.
Jamie is a testament to the power of positive thinking. She was just nineteen years old when a car accident near her home in Rittman claimed the life of her coworker and left Jamie with a traumatic brain injury. After her accident, Jamie spent six weeks at Akron City Hospital followed by nearly three years in rehabilitation facilities, where she received intensive therapy to regain skills such as writing and speaking. During the course of her rehabilitation in Akron, she became acquainted with a woman named Leila who frequently visited her husband as he received care for a similar brain injury. As the women spent more time together, Leila encouraged Jamie to try painting with water color pencils as a form of therapy. Although Jamie claimed to have little artistic ability prior to her accident, she found that she enjoyed painting and found solace in the activity.
As she assimilated back into her life at home, Jamie became acquainted with Goodwill’s training programs through the Bureau of Vocational Rehabilitation. When a Goodwill case worker began working with Jamie, she immediately realized how passionate Jamie was about her watercolor creations. Over the course of their months together, Jamie’s case worker and other members of Goodwill’s Workforce Development team worked with her to develop a customized employment plan for Jamie based on her skills and interests. Today, Jamie continues to create and sell water color paintings, allowing her to earn money and experience a sense of pride and self-sufficiency.
As she explains, Jamie feels very fortunate that she is able to do something that brings her joy, and she remains grateful to Goodwill for helping her foster a new and rewarding passion. Jamie’s optimism serves as an inspiration to everyone in her life.
A resident of Smithville, Richard has worked at Goodwill since 1980, when he came to the agency through a referral by the Bureau of Vocational Rehabilitation. Born with a physical disability that prevents him from walking unaided, Richard uses a motorized scooter at work. He spends his days in the Industrial Services area, where he has worked primarily on jobs for The Wooster Brush Company including assembling foam brushes.
When Richard’s mobility scooter stopped working, Goodwill’s Workforce Development team helped Richard secure a new reliable scooter through the Wayne County Committee for Crippled Children and Adults. Recognizing the importance of Richard’s scooter on his ease of mobility, Goodwill President Judy Delaney ordered an electric lift for Richard’s truck that allows him to take the scooter home with him each day. This purchase made an immediate impact on Richard’s mobility and independence.
According to Judy, “Richard is a daily inspiration to everyone at Goodwill. His need to use crutches to walk is a noticeable struggle for him every day of his life, but he comes in to work each day with a positive attitude and a smile. Richard’s job at Goodwill gives him a sense of purpose and belonging, and for us a daily reminder of the POWER OF WORK.”
An unemployed single mother of three teenagers when she came to Goodwill, Susan had just spent several months living at Wooster’s Salvation Army shelter and with relatives. Susan needed to provide for her family, and she had not been successful in finding a job. While she had a strong history of work experience in hotel housekeeping and factory settings, she recognized that her lack of basic computer skills was holding her back from finding a job.
When Susan was referred to Goodwill by the Wayne County Department of Job and Family Services, she was looking to gain the skills necessary to obtain employment. A Goodwill caseworker enrolled Susan in Goodwill’s comprehensive computer training program, helped her receive transportation assistance, accompanied her to purchase clothing appropriate for job interviews from Goodwill’s Wooster store, and connected her with other community service providers. Susan received assistance with her housing expenses as well as help in preparing for the GED exam. Thanks to the help of Goodwill and other partner agencies, Susan now possesses the skills she needs to provide for herself and her family.