Goodwill Faces: George, Randy, Rocio, Susan
March 31, 2017
George grew up in eastern Washington as a first generation American and throughout his life developed a passion for helping others. He attended Gonzaga University—a Jesuit institution that promotes service to others—and after graduation joined the military as a United States Army officer. He gained invaluable leadership skills during four years or service, which included a deployment to Iraq. George moved to Seattle after leaving the military and connected with Goodwill through a veterans hiring event. He learned about Goodwill’s mission, and instantly knew his beliefs aligned perfectly. After starting out as a case manager, George began instructing Goodwill’s Retail and Customer Service class and now works as Retail Programs Operations Manager, strengthening relationships with Goodwill’s partners and developing ways to improve the programs he oversees.
“You get to see students in the environment that Goodwill offers, which is a safe and welcoming space. But one’s perspective broadens through the relationship that is built and the work that we do because you realize that for some that safe and welcoming space can end once they step out of the classroom and away from Goodwill … you realize that some students don’t have a place to rest, don’t have a place to call their own. Some don’t know where their next meal is coming from, and some may be going somewhere they may not necessarily want to be. Yet for all that they are carrying as an individual, their persistence and determination to improve remains, and it is awe-inspiring. Things we take for granted, they do without, and regardless they’re set in making their change happen. I’m honored to work alongside a team and organization that will offer that hand-up in education and support services to thse inspiring individuals, letting them know that we are here to support them."
Randy, who serves as Goodwill’s director of transportation and after market sales, has been an integral piece in the birth of Goodwill’s highly successful Industrial Vehicles Program—a 12-week session with the end goal of having students earn their commercial driver’s license. He’s paramount to Goodwill’s daily operations, has established a long track record of limiting liability and takes great pride in positively affecting change in the lives of the students who’ve come through Goodwill’s programs and now work in his department.
“What’s most rewarding I think is just the conversations with my employees. My whole thing is getting down and knowing what makes them tick, how we can help them, how they can help us. I mean it truly is a two-way street. I manage the warehouses, and we hire from the re-entry program, so we get some of the more hardened guys. A lot of those guys have just been put in the wrong spot at the wrong time. They all have good hearts. They all want to do the right things, and you can especially tell when you talk about their family. Being able to talk to them and get that smile… They don’t even have to say it. You feel that thank you. People don’t always articulate, so to be able to see the joy and benefit of what having a job means to their lives, it’s just as rewarding to me as anything. On the surface it seems like, ‘Oh, yeah, I’m doing all this for everybody else,’ but guess what? When I got home at night, I’m taking some of that joy home with me.”
Rocio, a single mother, left her home in Mexico City 23 years ago with her two daughters after the business she worked for closed due to a struggling Mexican economy. She settled in Bremerton, where she had family. Speaking limited English, Rocio tried several times to learn but never found the necessary time to master the language. Two years ago Rocio came to Seattle Goodwill’s Bremerton Job Training and Education Center, where she’s taken English for Speakers of Other Languages classes, Adult Basic Education, Computer Basics and is now working toward obtaining her GED. Rocio, who has a chronic injury that affects her ability to work following a car accident 15 years ago, has taken advantage of Goodwill’s support services for students. She’s received gas cards for her long commutes to work, has obtained prescription glasses with Goodwill’s help and also received help finding housing. Her English has drastically improved, and she is becoming more confident in using her English speaking skills to complete daily tasks.
“Right now I have many things to do. And to do many things you need English. Before I would ask my daughters or somebody for help. Now, no. My goal is to be a teacher, an art teacher because I love to draw. To become a teacher, I need to get my GED. When you draw you get to put outside what you feel, what you think. I want to help kids express what they are feeling. That is my goal. A long time ago people told me, ‘Ask for help, ask for help, because you will hurt yourself more (if you don’t).’ Now I am living and getting support in many ways, and I feel like I am dreaming. We have very good teachers, and they help all the time. I can’t believe it. Of course, I am very grateful. That for me motivates me to do the best that I can do. That is my feeling to say thank you. We have everything here that we need to study. I can’t say anything about, we need, because they help with everything.”
Susan taught high school science in Missouri for seven years before moving to western Washington in 2012. She already had a bachelor’s degree in teaching but needed to pass a new test in order to earn her certification in Washington state. Susan’s plan was to save up and take the test, but in the meantime discovered Seattle Goodwill and found an open instructor position at Marysville’s Job Training and Education Center. She was hired as a computer instructor, and that role quickly grew into teaching just about every class offered at the center. Susan became the South Everett Job Training and Education Center Manager in 2013, and through her nearly five years working at Goodwill has discovered teaching adults is her true passion. Her favorite class is at the Monroe Correctional Complex, where she works with inmates on building their resume, writing cover letters, teaching how to talk to future employers about conviction history and even sets up mock interviews to help them find work upon release.
“I use to say I wanted to teach high school because I wanted the last chance to make a difference in somebody’s life. But what I realized shortly after working for Goodwill is that (high school) is not the last chance, because there are still so many people that need someone to help and make a difference in their life. We get a lot of individuals who are at that point where their life just drastically changed. So what’s so amazing about Goodwill is not only do we provide the education classes to help, but in addition we support (our students), which is so amazing. Goodwill helps students get what they need and then goes one step further with assisting them with (resources like) dental, and vision or if they are having trouble paying their utility bill. So we really try to meet that base level of the pyramid, so our students can focus on education and then bettering themselves.”
Andrew is a Content Specialist for Seattle Goodwill and has a wealth of writing, communication and digital media experience. He loves all things sports related and owns a treasure trove of memorabilia. He also enjoys storytelling, the outdoors and sugar is his kryptonite.
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