To many people, Goodwill is more than a thrift store. Our programs and services provide individuals with developmental and intellectual disabilities, and other barriers to employment, the power of work. Our clients find dignity and purpose through job skills training and work opportunities, and our NexStep Alliance students discover new opportunities through GED completion and certification programs that provide new career paths.
Janice has really blossomed since coming to Goodwill after high school. She joined the Skills Development Adult Day Program because she wanted to work and the program allowed her to earn a paycheck in the contracts division while learning job skills. She was reserved, rarely smiled, afraid of change and lacking in self-confidence. Eventually, she opened up. She tried new jobs, made friends and was excited to come to work. Janice worked hard in every task assigned and became a leader within the program. Her confidence soared.
As Janice’s skills developed, so did her desire to be challenged. She stepped outside of her comfort zone and joined the Goodwill Mobile Crew – traveling to stores to help with sorting, inventory rotation and cleaning. Here she learned the valuable skills of dependability and teamwork. Then, she applied for and was hired at Project SEARCH – Cintas, an internship program for adults with disabilities. She continued to develop her self-confidence and was able to interact more with the community. After graduating the program, she realized she didn’t want to leave her Goodwill family, so accepted a part-time job at a Goodwill retail store, still working part-time in the contracts division.
At the retail store, Janice has learned many skills and fills several different job roles. The store is where her friendly, sassy, go-getter personality really shines! She does everything from sorting, greeting customers, taking donations, testing electronics and, her least favorite job, cleaning. Janice loves to stay busy and is eager to learn new things.
Janice’s coworkers say she is an important part of the team. Her upbeat, ornery, bubbly personality is a real morale booster and she is a joy to be around. Her hard work is noticed and appreciated. She has gone through an amazing transformation that has given her the confidence and motivation to lobby for her own independence and to truly be herself. She continues to work on cooking, budgeting and reading to improve work options. Her goal is to get her own apartment in the future.
When Belinda became a mother at the age of 15, she planned to go back to school. But, with the demands of raising a child and little support from family, she never made that happen.
She later married and her husband provided for their family, but discouraged her from completing her education. She spent 12 years in an unhealthy and abusive marriage, wanting to do more, but didn’t have the courage to exert her independence. When she finally did, it cost her everything.
She left her abuser and moved from North Carolina back to Wichita in 2017 with nothing – even leaving her two young children as the law required. She faced depression and was suicidal. For a year, she worked to rebuild – to find suitable housing, a job, and a path to independence. She knew she needed something else for her and her children. In 2018, her children came home to her.
Her cousin told her about NexStep and she began taking classes to complete her GED. She was accepted into Accelerated Opportunities – Kansas, a program which allowed her to be the first in her family to graduate college and help her learn the skill of CNC Machining at WSU Tech; something she never thought she could afford, much less succeed.
It wasn’t easy. Many times, she wanted to quit. Twice, she withdrew. But the support of the NexStep certified instructors and staff, along with her sheer determination, allowed her to graduate from NexStep in May 2019 with her certification from WSU Tech. Now she is working as a CNC Machinist for Max Aerostructures in Wichita and is raising her two young children. Her oldest son, now 17, is enrolled at NexStep Alliance.
For years, Laura struggled. Throughout high school she was enrolled in special education classes, and was able to graduate, but still had difficulty getting and keeping a job. When Laura moved with a family member to Wichita in 2016, she was hopeful for a fresh start. She found a job at a grocery store, but was struggling to keep up. One of her colleagues had a job coach, and told Laura about Goodwill’s Community Employment Program. Laura contacted vocational rehab and qualified for services based on her learning disability. Laura chose Goodwill, where she would get individualized case management, personal support and advocacy. That’s where she met her job coach, Andrea.
With Andrea’s guidance, Laura worked hard refining her resume and determining what role best suited her skill set. In February 2019, she began an on-the-job assessment with Holiday Inn Express to see if she had the skills for the position of full-time housekeeper. Andrea checked in often and offered support when it was needed. Laura excelled. She was such a hard worker, had excellent attendance, (even picking up extra shifts), kept a positive attitude and did an incredible job with housekeeping – so she was offered a permanent position.
Things were going well until she found out the person she trusted with her finances was stealing her money and not paying the bills. She lost everything, including her car and the only support system she knew – and become homeless. Still, she learned how to navigate the bus system and continued working every day with a smile on her face.
Even though there are still ups and downs, she now has her own place again and is learning how to budget and pay bills. Laura’s goals for the future are to get a new car and to get married.
Goodwill works to fulfill its mission through a number of services to the community serving two populations: those with developmental disabilities and those with other employment barriers. Part of an international brand, Goodwill locations across the globe are operated and led autonomously based on community need – but all use the power of work to provide purpose, pride and dignity.
When you donate and shop at one of our Goodwill locations, attend an event or contract with us for business services, you help fund job training and education programs for people with disabilities and other barriers to employment.
In addition to revenues earned in the Goodwill retail stores, Goodwill depends on the generosity of others to help fund the programs and services that are provided to community members who need help. While Goodwill retail stores help offset the cost of programs and services, your financial gift demonstrates your belief in the power of work and can provide desirable tax benefits. Here’s how you can help:
Make a secure monetary online donation through PayPal (account not required). For each dollar donated, 90 cents goes directly to help people with disabilities and employment barriers seek the power of work in Kansas. Make a one-time donation, or make recurring gifts for ongoing impact.
Join like-minded individuals who support the mission of Goodwill Industries with a financial contribution of $2,000 or more annually. Members enjoy multiple benefits including invitations to private member-only events and are first to learn news and Goodwill happenings.
Whether you would like to put your donation to work today or benefit us after your lifetime, you can find a charitable plan that lets you provide for your family and support Goodwill Industries of Kansas. Goodwill can accept many gift types and, with the help of your financial advisor, can find the best way to ensure Goodwill can continue to help Kansans into the future.