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I Change Lives: Randy Gene Buchanan

A Q&A with an employee who is making a difference through the mission of Goodwill

About Randy

Randy Buchanan trains clients for the workplace who have medically verifiable disabilities. Sometimes, this means developing a job aid or adapting items for new purposes, like using door hangers as memory markers to help memory-impaired clients remember what they were doing before they walked away for a break.

Randy was struck by a pickup in Pensacola, Fla., at 22 months old. Doctors told his parents that if he lived, he would never be able to learn. He was in special education classes until his parents moved to Dallas, Texas, when he was 8. There, he entered a program that “mainstreamed” students, allowing them to experience success in a regular classroom. The program, as well as Randy’s faith and the support of family and friends, helped him catch up and graduate high school with his peers. Randy went on to acquire two bachelor’s degrees, and he spent 20 years in the office supply industry. During that time, he wrote his first training manual. In his fourth year with Goodwill, Randy says it is a privilege to do his job. “At times, I feel as if I learn as much from them as they are (hopefully) learning from me,” he says.

What brought you to Goodwill? At the time my sister told me of a website which posts nonprofit jobs, and I was looking for a full time job where I could use my training experience. I went in for the interview, and I haven’t looked back since.

What are some of the challenges you face? Adapting to each individual person’s learning style. It sometimes takes time to figure out what works best. But the people I coach are with us because they want to learn, they want  to succeed, and that makes it easier to want to meet them where they are.

What has surprised you most in your time with Goodwill? The passion I feel for my job. I recently told some of my supervisors I love my job more now than when I started because I know more and can better serve our clients.

What do you enjoy most about your job? Seeing the light come on for someone I have been working with. It’s that “aha” moment where they get it and now can start to work unsupervised. Also, seeing their sense of accomplishment when they graduate from the training program to be a Goodwill employee.

Why is your job important to Goodwill’s mission? Because when a job coach’s job is done well, people get skills which will help them succeed not only in work but in life! They have developed an “I can” attitude and are able to go forth and accomplish other goals. They can continue to move forward with a sense of success! That’s what it’s all about.

How do you change lives? Often by changing their perspective. Many of the people we coach have been told what they can’t do. We reverse that and show them what they can do. Once they get that sense of accomplishment, they can move forth and accomplish new goals.

For more stories like this read the Spring 2016 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.

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