Goodwill’s Life-Changing Programs Create Job Opportunities in Siouxland

Life happens. You can’t control what life gives you, but you can control how you react. Many individuals who arrive at Goodwill need someone to believe in them.

Two special individuals overcame significant obstacles in their life and worked hard to become independent because of their amazing mentors and support systems who encouraged and guided them every step of the way.

At Morningside College, you can find Nicole busily working in the dish room with a smile on her face. As soon as you meet Nicole you know she loves her job and is proud of the work she accomplishes. “I work hard, and do my best, Nicole proudly states. Part of Nicole’s strong support system is her tight-knit family because they are proud of her and support everything she does and her mentor, Christine who always believed in her potential. 

A few years ago, Nicole completed the Pre-Vocational Training Program. (A program providing job training for individuals with disabilities or mental illness. Pre-Vocational Services are available for up to two years to support additional soft skill development as the participant becomes work-ready). Nicole struggled during her community supported employment training. In particular, she didn’t like wiping down tables in the cafeteria. It wasn’t fast-paced, and she found herself bored with the job quickly. Nicole didn’t know how to communicate this struggle with her manager appropriately.

Christine McCullough, Nicole’s Skills Trainer, recognized Nicole needed help with communication. Christine worked with Nicole to find job duties she would like and identified tools to help her better communicate. The encouragement and support Christine gave Nicole inspired her to become more confident in herself. Nicole communicates her concerns directly with her supervisor and adapts to change in her routine thanks to Christine’s encouragement. Christine believes Nicole’s life dramatically changed because of Goodwill training programs. “Being in the community helped her become independent. Nicole genuinely wants to succeed, and Goodwill has helped her become an inspiration to everyone she meets,” Christine shared with pride.

Before Jon came to Goodwill, he had been misunderstood most of his life. His family led him to believe he wouldn’t amount to much of anything and would never become independent. Because this mindset was instilled in him throughout his life, Jon struggled to find his place. 

Several dead-end jobs later, Jon was referred to Goodwill’s Employment Skills Training program that teaches individuals the hard and soft skills needed to be successful in the workplace. Jon’s life changed forever when he found a mentor and friend in Chasity Colton, Employment Specialist for Goodwill. 

Chasity saw Jon’s potential because he came to work with a positive attitude and took pride in his job. After completing the Employment Skills Training Program, Chasity helped Jon find a job at Shopko as a Hardlines Team Associate. Jon loved his job at ShopKo and appreciated the opportunity he was given. 

On his last day of work at Shopko, Jon was presented with the Star Service Champion Award by Cynthia, Assistant Manager at Shopko. Jon was presented with this award because he went above and beyond the expectations that had been set and went the extra mile for the customers.  Jon was in tears. This was a defining moment for Jon when he learned, “People in the community see me for who I am.” 

Today, Jon works for 1st Class Security as a Gatekeeper at Menards. He has found an apartment and is gaining independence. Jon credits Chasity and his Goodwill family for the support and encouragement they have given him to be the best version of himself.

A job opportunity can make a dramatic difference in someone’s life. It only takes one job to help individuals gain independence and a sense of pride. Goodwill’s job training programs have helped many individuals receive job opportunities right here in the Siouxland region helping the community thrive and grow.

Individuals with barriers come from many different backgrounds, experiences, and circumstances but have one thing in common. They want to succeed and have a sense of accomplishment at the end of the day. Nicole and Jon are incredible individuals that needed support through Goodwill Job Training Programs, mentors, and support systems who believed in their potential. 

Shawn Fick, Director of Mission Services, explains “Partnering with Goodwill is a long-term investment for businesses. The benefits of employing individuals with barriers are tremendous. You have loyal, hardworking individuals who are appreciative of the opportunities you gave to them. The only thing a business needs to give these individuals is a chance. A chance to prove themselves and what they can do.” 

Goodwill Job Training Programs give individuals the tools necessary to sharpen their skills, meet new challenges, and create more rewarding and independent lives. When individuals come to Goodwill, the challenges they face are assessed and opportunities for improvement are identified. They are placed in the appropriate training program and are mentored by a Skills Trainer or Job Coach. Together, realistic goals are set along with a plan to meet the goals. According to Cindy Wilde, Mission Coordinator, “It might take years for individuals to reach these goals, but we continue to support these individuals. We do not give up on them.” 

Goodwill changes people’s lives every day and continues to inspire individuals to become better today than they were yesterday. Goodwill’s mission is to serve as an advocate for economic self-sufficiency through employment and education. For more information on Goodwill Training Programs visit our website at goodwillgreatplains.org or our Facebook page at Goodwill Great Plains. For more stories on individuals who overcame significant barriers, visit our blog at goodwillgreatplains.org/blog

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