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Stories of Success, Determination Celebrated at Nashville Impact Luncheon

(Middle Tenn.) — A young woman who refused to let autism prevent her from landing her first job. A man who sharpened his skills to improve his income for a growing family. These are among the stories of tenacity and achievement celebrated by Goodwill Industries of Middle Tennessee at its Impact Luncheon awards ceremony Friday.

Five Goodwill Career Solutions clients and six employer and non-profit partners were recognized at the event at the Millennium Maxwell House Hotel in Nashville.

In his opening remarks, Goodwill President and CEO Matthew Bourlakas announced that Goodwill’s 30 Career Solutions centers have already surpassed their 2015 goals of providing employment assistance to more than 30,000 people and finding jobs for 11,000. So far this year, more than 32,000 people have been served and nearly 13,000 of those have landed jobs.

Keynote speaker Mike Veeck, author and owner of several minor league baseball teams and a consulting firm, provided an inspirational message, and the event was emceed by NewsChannel 5 Anchor Rhori Johnston.

The award-winning Goodwill Career Solutions clients were chosen by their supervisors for their exemplary efforts in 2015. All five came to Goodwill Career Solutions and were placed into jobs with other employers. They work for Standard Functional Foods Group, All American Pest Control, Manheim Auctions, Saint Thomas West Hospital and Our Place Cafe. MEET THIS YEAR’S AWARD WINNERS

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.

Because of her autism and seizures, 20-year-old Torie Summers had never had a job, but she wanted to make her own money and be more independent. Her family moved from Westmoreland to Goodlettesville expressly to improve her chances of finding employment. But when more help was needed, they brought Torie to Goodwill Career Solutions.

She was an eager and diligent participant in job readiness, computer and online job search classes. Goodwill learned that Joe Perricone, owner of Our Place Cafe in Hendersonville, hires people with disabilities and works hard to help them flourish in a work environment.

He had a part-time support staff position available, and in April he interviewed — and hired — Torie. She was thrilled. Goodwill job coach Randy Buchanan helped her settle into the job, and she now refills drinks for customers, cleans the dining room and performs other tasks like a pro.

She is also a favorite of regulars. She loves the job and the tips she receives for providing great service.

Graduates of the Year
The recipients of this award have achieved great success since enrolling in Goodwill Career Solutions.

Sharon Forbes had been unemployed a long time. She lost her car, her residence and much of her self-esteem. In February she visited the Goodwill Career Solutions Center on Foster Street in Nashville and entered Goodwill’s Health Care Initiatives program. Right away, her confidence began to improve. It was clear she had a passion for helping people. After graduating, Forbes fielded calls from several health care providers interested in interviewing her. She accepted a job as a technician at Saint Thomas West Hospital, and her life has been looking up ever since. She even recently bought herself a car.

When Taryn Covington walked into the Mt. Juliet Goodwill Career Solutions center in January, she already had two part-time jobs and a bachelor’s degree in business administration. What she wanted was a career and the ability to move out of her parent’s home. At Goodwill, she upgraded her computer skills and resume. She sharpened her job search and interview skills as well and soon landed an interview with Manheim Auctions. She was hired on part-time but within 90 days was promoted to a full-time position with more responsibility. Today, she has her own apartment and a bright future in a profession she loves.

In August of 2014, Akeem Baker was working as a dishwasher at a Nashville restaurant, but he wanted to improve his income. He needed help, however. so he visited the Goodwill Career Solutions center in Nashville’s Berry Hill community. There, he completed courses in digital literacy, resume writing, job readiness and online job search. Within two months, he began working in Goodwill’s salvage department. In June of this year, Baker had leveraged his new skills and experience into a higher-paying job with standard functional foods group in Nashville. Along the way,  Baker got married and welcomed a new baby.

Virginia Cook worked in retail for many years but grew frustrated with never having weekends or holidays off. She left her job to take some planned time off but later found returning to the workforce difficult. After three months seeking a job, she went to Springfield’s Goodwill Career Solutions center. Her career counselor suggested she try Goodwill’s call center training. Cook initially refused but reconsidered and completed the course. Her new skills landed her a job as a customer service representative for All American Pest Control in Nashville. She loves the work, her new co-workers and having weekends free with her family.

Community Partner Awards

The National Council on Aging of Williamson County is a non-profit agency that provides low-income seniors age 55 and up with paid temporary work to help them gain experience and permanent employment. The organization encourages clients to participate in digital literacy classes and job fairs at the Franklin Goodwill Career Solutions center. Goodwill responds by directing its clients to NCOA whenever they may qualify for its services.

Workforce Essentials – Robertson County and Goodwill’s partnership took off in January when the two non-profits discovered how well their missions dovetailed. Both help people who are struggling to find employment, although their services differ. They now partner  for every job fair they conduct —more than 230 this year, promote each other’s events and conduct joint workshops. Workforce Essentials of Robertson County has referred at least 2,000 people for Goodwill’s services this year, and 400 of those have been placed in jobs.

Donor Partner of the Year Award

Parks Realty was the first company to partner with Goodwill for its Real Estate Donations Pickup program, which picks up used items from homes where people are moving or settling an estate. By telling their clients about the service, Parks Realtors boosted Goodwill’s donation receipts by an average of five pickups per month, filling about 13 box trucks to date.

Employer Partner Awards

Several businesses were also recognized at the luncheon for their enthusiastic support of Goodwill’s Mission. Administrative Resource Options, Amazon and Popeyes were honored for contributing to the success of Goodwill Career Solutions through their employment practices and hiring of clients.

Annual Report_2014_Cover

For more information on how Goodwill is impacting the lives of others read our 2014 Annual Report.

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

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