Janice’s story is so inspiring. She transitioned into the Goodwill employment program right out of high school. As her confidence grew, so did her desire for a challenge. So, she stepped outside of her comfort zone and applied for Project SEARCH – Cintas, an internship which allows adults to work in various jobs in the company, learning employment skills all along the way. After she graduated from the program, Janice decided she enjoyed her Goodwill family, so she accepted a position working in a Goodwill retail store, and still works one day a week in the contracts division working on real jobs, for real companies while earning a paycheck. The store is where her friendly, sassy, go-getter personality really shines! She does it all – sorting, greeting customers, taking donations, testing electronics and, her least favorite job, cleaning. Janice’s coworkers say she is an important part of the team.
Laura has been through a lot in the past few years – but you would never know all she overcame. Laura came to Goodwill after her move to Wichita. Having a learning disability, she came to Goodwill and met her job coach Andrea. Andrea helped Laura determine what role best suited her skills, refine her resume and get her job.
During this time, she learned the person she trusted to pay the bills was stealing from her and she was evicted from her home – she was homeless. Her car broke down and she couldn’t afford to fix it. Her foster mom and sister both died. But through all these challenges she kept going – she went to work, found an apartment and learned how to navigate the bus system. She is doing great, despite all of her challenges!
Belinda could’ve found lots of reasons to give up but, instead, she took control of her life and made choices which she is proud. Becoming a mother at 15, she dropped out of school and planned to go back, but never did. She spent 12 years in an abusive marriage before she worked up the courage to leave, and it cost her everything, including her younger children. She moved across the country to Wichita – and faced depression and was suicidal. But, within a year, she found a place to live, enrolled in NexStep to complete her GED and her children came to live with her. She was accepted into the Accelerated Opportunities – Kansas program which allowed her to be the first in her family to graduate college. She is now a CNC Machinist for Max AeroStructures and is raising her two younger children. Her oldest son, now 17, is enrolled at NexStep Alliance. She says she didn’t give up mostly to prove the haters wrong. There are so many who said she would never be anything – and to that she says, “LOOK AT ME NOW!”
Over the past 13 years, Dave has provided job opportunities for hundreds of individuals with disabilities through securing contract work from the community. In recent years, he added competitive employees to the contracts division in order to create an integrated workforce. This allows individuals with disabilities to work along-side competitive employees to provide these services to local companies – while learning valuable job skills and earning a paycheck.
In addition, he serves as the oversight for ISO – an Internationals Organization of Standards – which means he participates in ongoing meetings related to continuous improvement for the entire agency. In doing so, Goodwill has been successful in attracting contracts for the aircraft industry and other notable manufacturing groups. Because of his leadership, Goodwill Industries provides defect free, on-time business services, with more than 95% customer satisfaction on every job.
What’s more, is he was instrumental in the construction and remodel of the current Goodwill home office – and oversees the maintenance for 20 buildings, along with the warehouse operations and transportation to each of the stores.
Ray has worked for Goodwill since 2004 in various roles, always working with individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities. He is currently the Day Services Coordinator – responsible for the day-to-day interaction with employees with disabilities. He helps give meds, gets clients to their work rotations, and communicates with guardians – to name just a few things.
His coworkers say that he is patient and kind, and always willing to help – and everyone who works in the day services program knows his saying, “We build up, we don’t tear down.”
The majority of the funding for Goodwill programs comes from the Goodwill retail stores. The stores are an important part of the success of the Goodwill mission, as it is the largest revenue stream to offset expenses related to the programs and services. Our Goodwill now operates 18 stores throughout south central and western Kansas, and an online division: Shop Goodwill-dot-com. The Derby store, selected for this year’s honor, experienced a 12% increase in total sales over last year, while increasing net revenues more than 22%. This team made several operational improvements to their sales floor and processing area this past year. Because of the changes, their productivity soared and more inventory translated into more sales!
There can only be one store of the year, but all of the stores are growing and performing well thanks to extraordinary leadership provided by the store managers. The Manager of the year award is given to the Goodwill retail store manager who, over the past year, has shown leadership and stood apart from their peers. Terri has been with Goodwill for more than 10 years. She has always been dedicated to the Goodwill mission and the customer experience. She is a strong leader who is able to achieve great success, even while leading a team with varied employment barriers. She is known for her willingness to be a team player – even willing to help other stores in the area. Top that all off with the fact that there was strong growth in sales during the past year, and you will see why she is our store manager of the year.
Genelle celebrated 20 years with Goodwill last November – which means in a month, she will celebrate number 21! She has seen a lot of changes during the past two decades. As the Director of Client Services and Quality Assurance, Genelle oversees our case management program and ensures that we maintain regulatory requirements for licensure in that program as well as our day services program. Thank you, Genelle, for your dedication and hard work.
Abdalsalam came from Sudan, Africa as a refugee. He didn’t waste any time getting a job and, wanting to improve himself and career options, enrolled in ESL classes. When he enrolled, he worked full-time in a meat packing plant, and would drive an hour each way to attend evening classes to learn English. As he progressed in ESL, he decided to enroll in the Accelerated Opportunities – Kansas program, to learn about composites. He successfully completed his certificate program and was hired on at Spirit AeroSystems where he now works. He wants to continue to learn and grow in his job, and place to pursue post-secondary education. He still meets with his ESL teacher each week, and is saving to visit his home in Africa.
Karen has performed above expectations during their first year of work. She has been an excellent addition to the organizational employment team, has really come out of her shell and is a highly sought-after employee. She has mastered most of the work skills, is pleasant to work with, and is a good role model for her peers.
The most important thing to most employers is having dependable employees. These are the people that show up every day, ready to work. Patsy is one of those people. She comes into work every day and tries very hard to have a positive, ready to get the job done attitude. She never turns away a job and volunteers for anything that needs to be done. The staff affectionately calls her the “time sucker” because she sucks up all the work time she can get.
As we looked back over the last year, one name stood out above the rest when it comes to improvement. Brittany has made vast improvements on her work ethic, motivation to work, getting along with others, and leaving the drama at the door.
Larry has learned to be able to adjust to any situation, without notice and demonstrates this on a regular basis. Whether it’s being moved around on a job to accommodate someone else or being instructed to change what he’s doing on a job, he does it with a smile and gives his all.
This honor is given to the employee who, during the past year, has worked to support their peers and staff. Lupe often offers to help staff or peers with various tasks such as holding the fiber bags open for her peers, retrieving paperwork from the copier, cleaning up a variety of messes, or fetching items for staff on the contracts. All of these little things make it easier for everyone to get their jobs done in a timely manner and keep things running smoothly.
Helen Keller said “Optimism is the faith that leads to achievement. Nothing can be done without hope and confidence.” Katie lives this every day and encourages those around her to live their lives with enthusiasm and optimism as well. The staff looks forward to seeing her smile and her positive messages on the power of getting along with others.
Above all else, Mark always has a kind, positive and encouraging word for others. He is one of the most selfless people you will ever meet and he has a great sense of humor to boot. On break, you can often find him chatting with a staff member, making them laugh with one of his many stories.
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