Goodwill is more than a thrift store.

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.

Meet Adina

After five years at a job she enjoyed, Adina Simon was laid off due to downsizing. The loss of her job left her feeling devastated and hopeless. She felt her drive start to slip and let self-doubt creep in.

To keep her skills sharp and boost her self-esteem, Adina enrolled in Goodwill’s Skills Development Adult Day Program where people with disabilities develop job skills with the help of trained staff. She worked with a Goodwill Employment Training Specialist (ETS) and soon landed a job at Parsnipity Café and LumpiaPalooza food truck, based in the heart of Wichita.

Adina stuffs and rolls lumpia, a Filipino egg roll that has become a fan favorite in Wichita. Customers wait in long lines at both the café and food truck to sample all the specialty varieties of these little delights.

Although Adina’s job requires a lot of repetition, she plays a vital role in putting out a consistent product to the masses. Dubbed the “Specialty Lumpia Queen,” Adina rolls about 500 lumpia each week to help supply the food truck, café and caterings. She takes pride in her work, and it shows.

“Adina has overcome her shyness and has found her drive for life again,” Goodwill ETS Shonna Stringfellow said. “She is thankful for her job at Parsnipity and her coworkers.”

Her speed and consistency, combined with a positive attitude and good work ethic, have made Adina a welcome addition to the team.

“Adina isn’t doing odd jobs here. She’s doing work that is vital to the operation of our business,” Cynthia Wilson, owner of Parsnipity Café, said. “So many people are not willing to do such a tedious job, but she does it and she enjoys it.”

As she continues to improve her social skills, Adina hopes to increase her work hours and one day work on the LumpiaPalooza food truck.

Meet Anthony

When Anthony came to Goodwill’s Skills Development Adult Day Program, he worked with trained staff to create a person-centered support plan with goals to help guide his job skills and social development. At first, he lacked focus and motivation to work and had many socially inappropriate behaviors, lacked self-confidence and was quick to become angry. He had a lot of work to do to prepare for a job in the community, but he was up for the task.

Working in a structured environment was key to Anthony’s personal growth. His maturity, flexibility and focus improved along with his motivation to work. He had dreams of being more independent and holding a job in the community. That led him to participate in Goodwill’s Adult Project SEARCH internship program at Cintas where he worked in an integrated environment alongside a Goodwill instructor, job coach and Cintas mentors.

“He had mentors that took him under their wing. He was a kid coming in, and they showed him how to be a man,” Instructor Connie Sneeringer said.

As his confidence grew, Anthony spoke more clearly, controlled his emotions and acted more professionally. He became known for his strength and ability to see a job through to the end.

“Project SEARCH taught me that it’s important to work and make new skills. I went to Cintas to prove that I’m worthy of a community job,” Anthony said.

After graduating from the Project SEARCH program in July, Anthony gained community employment in the parts department at one of the largest car dealerships in the area, Davis-Moore Auto Group.

Project SEARCH “gave me the chance to work anywhere in the community, but (Davis-Moore) was my first choice, “ he said. “I’m in my rookie stage here, but I might train a new parts runner one of these days,” Anthony said.

Anthony is excited to continue to learn and develop new job skills. He plans to build on his newfound independence with a driver’s license and an apartment.

Meet Michael

Not many people knew that Michael Sharlow didn’t graduate from high school. He managed a warehouse for a national furniture chain in Wichita. When it closed and he was laid off, he was offered the opportunity to transfer out of state. Michael had about 20 years of experience in the industry, working his way up from furniture repair to management. He didn’t want to move away from family though, and that left him in a little bit of a predicament. What to do now?

As he was job searching, he saw an ad for the NexStep Alliance GED program, a partnership between Goodwill and WSU Tech. He enrolled at NexStep and the Accelerating Opportunity program to get on the fast track to a career in aviation. While he studied for the GED exams, he also took courses through WSU Tech to earn a certification in composites fabrication.

After more than 20 years out of school, it was a little tough to get started, he recalled, but quitting was never an option.

“The older I get, the more stubborn I get. Give me a job, and I’m going to do it to my fullest,” Michael said. “If I hadn’t been without a job, I don’t know that I would’ve ever done it, but I’m happy that I did.”

He didn’t waste any time either. Michael earned both is high school diploma and the composites certification in five months. He returned to NexStep the following semester to encourage the incoming students and tell his story.

“What I remember about Michael is how unassumingly sincere and earnest he was,” NexStep Instructor Jeff Pritchett said. “Michael demonstrated humility and respect that stood out among his peers.”

After interviewing with Spirit AeroSystems, a global aircraft manufacturer, he was offered a position in the sand and fill department, prepping the exterior of the Boeing 737 for paint.
“It feels good to be back to work and into a routine,” he says. “Working and spending time with his family are his two priorities now.”

How can you help?

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:

Donate Online

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.

Helms Society

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.

Goodwill Legacy Society

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.