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Breaking Through With Goodwill’s Summer Work Program

Joshua was often ignored by other students in junior high school because of his autism and his speech impediment. Because he was home-schooled after that, he had few opportunities for socializing, much less work experience.

One day this summer, the 16-year-old’s grandmother, Reba Foxall, walked into a Goodwill facility and asked if they had any summer programs to help young adults find work. Joshua got the last available slot in Goodwill’s Summer Work Program for
16-22 year olds.

About 80 young adults took part in the six-week program, which teaches them about the responsibilities of having a job, including safety standards and the rewards of earning a paycheck. Some students obtain permanent part-time employment through the program. Joshua was one of those.

After receiving training at a Donations Express Center in Brentwood, he was hired to work as a donations attendant at the nearby Goodwill store on Nolensville Pike.

“I thought the training would be hard for him, but he got along well with the guys he worked with and his job coach was great,” his grandmother said. “I think he learned that he could do more than he thought he could.”

Goodwill store manager Angeline Bivens said having Joshua on board has been a pleasure.

“I think he’s opened up a lot since he’s been here,” she said. “He has adapted really well, and he does an excellent job.”

Joshua is a great example of what the Summer Work Program is intended to accomplish, said program manager Leslie Weed.

“I think it’s important because it gives these young people self-confidence to work and be successful,” she said. “It’s awesome to watch them go from being scared when they start, and by the end of six weeks they are eager to work again. It’s very fulfilling.”

Joshua’s grandmother said between his new job and continuing speech therapy, he has made great strides toward adulthood. He recently got his first bank account, and he is helping with his family’s expenses.

But for Joshua, the best reward is his newfound confidence. “I was always afraid of getting a job,” he said, “but now I’m not afraid anymore.”

Ambassador_Q3_2015_Cover

Read the Fall 2015 edition of The Ambassador – Goodwill’s quarterly magazine which provides readers with stories of events, activities and the inspiring changes Goodwill is making in the lives of others.

About Goodwill Industries of Middle Tennessee, Inc.

For more than 55 years Goodwill Industries of Middle Tennessee has provided job training and job placement free of charge to people with disabilities or other barriers to employment through the sale of donated items. In 2014, Goodwill served 28,159 people in Middle and West Tennessee and placed 9.558 people in jobs. More information about Goodwill’s Career Solutions, retail stores and donation centers can be obtained online at  www.giveit2goodwill.org or by calling 1-800-545-9231

Find a Goodwill Donation Center near you and donate today. Your donations help grow our mission so we can help more people like Joshua.

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