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Learn more about the 2016 Impact Luncheon winners.  

Stories of Success, Determination Celebrated at Annual Impact Luncheon

(Middle Tenn.) — An 81-year-old who overcame a language barrier to find a job and now rides his bike to work each day. A young man building his dream of owning a construction business. These were among the stories of achievement celebrated by Goodwill Industries of Middle Tennessee at its Impact Luncheon awards ceremony Thursday.

Goodwill Career Solutions clients and employer and community partners were recognized at the event at the Franklin Marriott Cool Springs in Franklin. The luncheon was emceed by NewsChannel 5 Anchor Rhori Johnston and sponsored by American Paper & Twine.

In his opening remarks, Goodwill President and CEO Matthew Bourlakas invoked the vision of the Rev. Edgar J. Helms, who founded Goodwill in Boston in 1902, to help those in need and those with disabilities “develop to (their) fullest usefulness and enjoy a maximum of abundant living.”

“The Rev. Helm’s words serve as a reminder that our call to action reaches back into the past for purpose and principle but looks to the future for renewed vigor to make the possibility of employment for everyone who seeks a hand up and not a handout a reality,” Bourlakas said.

The award-winning Goodwill Career Solutions clients were chosen by Goodwill Career Solutions staff for their exemplary efforts in 2016. All came to Goodwill Career Solutions for help finding a job; two were placed with other employers — Roses Department Store and Solomon Builders, while one was hired by Goodwill.



 Employee of the Year
The recipient of this award has achieved great success since being hired by Goodwill.

Laibao Wan is well-known at Nashville Goodwill headquarters for his work ethic. The 81-year-old housekeeping employee was once struck by a car while making his daily, 30-minute commute to work by bicycle. The driver wanted to call an ambulance, but instead, Wan loaded his smashed bike into the man’s car and demanded a ride to Goodwill. Wan worked as a chauffeur in China for 45 years. After his wife died, he moved to the U.S. to be near family, but he struggled to find a job because he could not speak English. He came to Goodwill for help in 2013 and was trained for his current job. He used his paycheck to buy a Chinese-English dictionary and his language skills quickly improved. He is now a top-performer, beloved by his co-workers.

David B. Lifsey Scholarship
This annual scholarship, named for Goodwill’s past president who served four decades, is presented to a Goodwill training program graduate who plans to enroll in post-secondary education or a credentialed certification program.

As a child, Antonio Williams rarely felt confident about math or books, but he was at home building things. He dreamed of going into construction, but by his mid-20s he was still seeking a start. He needed a job to support himself and relatives with whom he lived. He searched endlessly, applying with at least 15 construction companies, but the few who responded said he lacked necessary experience. In 2014, Williams sought help from Goodwill Career Solutions. He got training in job readiness, computer basics and forklift operation. Then, he registered for Goodwill’s six-week construction program. After graduating, Williams landed a job at Solomon Builders. He now has his own car and apartment and is working toward his dream of becoming a general contractor.

LaVoi-Katz Award
This award is named in honor of two women who were loyal supporters of Goodwill, Madaleine LaVoi and Elsine Katz. The award is given to a Career Solutions client who has made outstanding progress in their program at Goodwill.

At age 2, Andrew Curtis was struck by a car, leaving him with physical and developmental disabilities. Despite challenges, Andrew graduated high school, got married and held a job for a time. After that, he struggled to find and keep employment. He turned to Goodwill for help. By early 2014, he had been unemployed for a year. Friends encouraged Andrew to accept his lot and live on disability benefits. But Andrew prayed for God’s guidance and sent his Goodwill job coach an email to let her know he was not giving up. A few days later, Andrew’s job coach told him about an opening at Roses Department Store in Shelbyville. Though he had applied there before, he tried again and got the job. Andrew has now been working at Roses for seven months and loves his work. “Goodwill helped me be a more positive person,” he said.

The employer and community partners are organizations that have significantly contributed to Goodwill’s mission of providing jobs and job services to those who struggle to find work.


Donor Partner of the Year Award 

Lifeway Christian Resources, the world’s largest provider of Christian resources such as Bibles, church music and digital services, is moving and downsizing after 125 years in one Nashville location. The nonprofit has filled more than 120 Goodwill trucks with office furniture, accessories and other donations valued at more than a half million dollars. Lifeway’s leaders are proud their donations will be sold to benefit Goodwill’s mission of changing lives through education, training and employment.

Sustainability Partner of the Year Award

Goodwill makes a promise to donors that it will squeeze the most possible value from every donated item, even those that can’t be sold in its stores. Dynamic Recycling in Nashville helps Goodwill fulfill this promise of stewardship, by turning end-of-life electronics into valuable product streams of metals, plastic and glass. During the three-year partnership, Dynamic Recycling has ensured that millions of pounds of electronics were recycled safely instead of being dumped in landfills. 

Community Partner of the Year Award

The Society of St. Vincent de Paul, operating from St. John Vianney Catholic Church in Gallatin, helps individuals and families in crisis in Gallatin and Sumner County. By providing temporary funding assistance for housing, power and water bills, gasoline for transportation and other necessities, the society helps stabilize its clients’ lives. Often, the next step is finding a job, and for the last eight years, the society has referred its clients to Goodwill for career services and job fairs.

Volunteer of the Year Award

Each year through Leadership Middle Tennessee, 30-40 business and civic leaders from 10 counties get the opportunity to learn about issues affecting the region and give back to the community through a class project. The class of 2016 chose to volunteer with Goodwill. With the help of alumni, the class fielded nearly 70 executives who fanned out one April day to Goodwill Career Solutions centers where they conducted practice interviews with Goodwill clients.

Employer of the Year Award

As more Tennesseans need quality longterm care, more turn to National Healthcare Corporation (NHC). And as NHC has needed quality caregivers, it has been turning to Goodwill Career Solutions. For several years, Goodwill has referred clients to NHC’s certified nursing assistant classes in Franklin. A year ago, leaders from both organizations met and decided to begin holding those classes at Goodwill facilities. So far this year, 300 Goodwill clients have registered for classes and 84 have been placed into jobs with NHC.

Goodwill Ambassadors of the Year

Betsy Appleton is a Nashville contracts attorney who in her free time writes a popular blog as the Goldwill Digger, introducing others to thrift shopping and stylish dress. She has written for Goodwill’s website and Ambassador magazine and is featured in Goodwill’s 2016 retail advertising campaign.

Elisabeth Donaldson is an artist and actress whose blog, 365 Days of Thrift, expounds on the many benefits of thrift shopping and the need for social and environmental responsibility. She’s been featured in Goodwill advertising and its Ambassador magazine, given interview style tips to Goodwill clients and modeled her Goodwill finds on NewsChannel 5’s Talk of the Town.

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For more information on how Goodwill is impacting the lives of others read our 2015 Impact Report.

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