Marv Thrives with Help from Goodwill

MarvAfter suffering a heart attack, Marv was grateful to work for a flexible and understanding employer.
Marv ended up having heart surgery with five bypasses.
“I called Denis the day after my surgery and asked if I could come back here,” Marv said.
It felt great that in the midst of his health concerns, having a job was one thing he wouldn’t have to worry about.
Now, he’s taking good care of his heart and enjoying his work.
He works in-house at Goodwill as part of the janitorial team, where he sometimes fills in for supervisor Carl Unger.
“I love it,” he says of running the crew. “I get to see what they’re actually doing, and if I can help them make it better.”
A jack-of-all-trades who can be counted on to perform any task in the janitorial department, Marv is known for his expertise in cleaning and buffing Goodwill’s floors until you can see your reflection in them.
“I’ve learned how to do floor work,” he said.
Prior to joining the janitorial crew and Choremasters, Marv worked in several different areas of Goodwill in his 26+ years here, including the sorting belts, the Dr. Juice fish bait program, and the match packaging program.
“I’ve gone through the whole building,” Marv says.
Marv is married with three children and four grandchildren, who all live in Duluth. He enjoys fishing and camping in his free time.


“At Work I Don’t Feel Like An Outsider”

kenBy Valerie Clark Public Relations Specialist, Goodwill Duluth

At the end of a productive day working at Goodwill, Ken takes a great deal of pride in the tall stacks of handcrafted wooden boxes piled throughout his workshop. It’s rewarding, he says, to be able to see the physical results of a good day’s work – the boxes he built with his own two hands.
“It’s fulfilling,” he said. “Woodworking is my favorite thing.”
Ken hasn’t always been able to enjoy the fulfillment that meaningful work brings. As a person with epilepsy who often had seizures as frequently as every other day, the 40-year-old struggled to find employment.
“Some places won’t hire people with epilepsy,” Ken said.
In 2007, Ken turned those job-seeking struggles around by coming to Goodwill for help. Goodwill’s mission is to provide employment and training for people whose disabilities or barriers have impeded their job searches. It was the perfect fit for Ken.
“They’re more understanding and accommodating, especially if you have a seizure here,” Ken said. He has since started taking a medication that has greatly reduced his seizures, but it makes him feel good to know that Goodwill has staff members on hand who are trained to handle them. He’s also thankful to have found a workplace where he fits in, and doesn’t have to worry about his medical issues impacting his employment.
“It makes me feel comfortable. When I come to work, it makes me feel…not like an outsider.”
Ken says he’s gained a wide variety of work skills, and appreciates the guidance of his supervisor, Fred.
“He’s a good boss,” Ken said. “He’s pretty understanding. He likes to teach.”
Fred says Ken has learned the importance of reliability, drastically improving his attendance since starting at Goodwill.
“He’s a very conscientious worker,” Fred said. “He takes pride in his work. He’s very dependable.”
Ken’s job has helped to support his growing family. He has one child and two stepchildren, and is getting married in May. In his spare time, he enjoys hunting and fishing.


The Pride of A Job Well Done


Teresa enjoys a joke from her co-worker.

by Valerie Clark
Public Relations Specialist, Goodwill Duluth

Teresa’s dad taught her about the value of a strong work ethic, and she takes his lessons to heart every day in her job at Goodwill. Being able to go to work each day makes her proud.

“My dad taught me to get a job, and have fun,” Teresa said.

Teresa has worked at Goodwill since 1991, spending many of those years under the wing of work supervisor Bonnie Slattery. She worked for Bonnie years ago on Goodwill’s large textile sorting belt, which has since been removed, and she and Bonnie are back together again in the rack area. Teresa’s job is to perform the final sort on clothing items before they’re sent to the store. She does some pin tagging too, making sure every item has a price tag.

“I always ask Bonnie, ‘What do you want me to do first?’” Teresa said. “Bonnie always likes to have me come in all the time.”

Bonnie said Teresa is a hard worker who has really stepped up her efforts lately, especially since a co-worker was out for several weeks on medical leave.
“She’s dependable. She does really good quality work,” Bonnie said. “She’s been helping out in a few areas she hadn’t been working before. So she’s picked up some new responsibilities.”

Teresa has also worked in several different areas of Goodwill and in the community. She used to work as a janitor at the federal building, where her outgoing personality was a big hit.

“Everybody loved me on the fourth floor,” she said.

Bonnie confirmed that Teresa is a great team player.

“I think Teresa gets along nicely with everybody within her department,” Bonnie said.

Teresa is a huge NASCAR fan, and plans to travel to Miami this November to see a race.

Brian is Always Willing to Help Out

By Valerie Clark, Public Relations Specialist, Goodwill Duluth

A chance viewing of a TV commercial about Duluth, Minnesota brought Brian to the Northland from Staten Island, New York in 2003, and he’s been enjoying his new town and his job at Goodwill ever since.

“I made the decision to move. Duluth seemed like a pretty good town,” Brian said. Some of his friends wagered that he’d return home within a year, but Brian proved them wrong.

“I’d been in New York all my life, pretty much,” he says. “It was kind of like a challenge that was opened to me.”

Brian started working at Goodwill in 2005 after receiving a referral from the Minnesota Resource Center’s Flexwork program. His job coaches and case manager have helped him work through his learning disorder, which has sometimes made it difficult for him to focus on job tasks in the past. He’s worked in several different areas, but feels at home as a truck helper.

“I love it here because I’m working in an area now which is something I’ve always wanted to do, which is on the docks and the trucks,” Brian said.

He enjoys his job because of the variety – on any given day, he can be found making store runs, picking up merchandise from Target stores or doing a house pickup.

“It gives me an opportunity to do various things,” Brian said.

His job at Goodwill has helped him learn to perform a large number of different work tasks, while staying organized and on task.

“I was always multitasking,” he says. “At the same time I was trying to keep focused.”
He has also learned positive teamwork skills.

“I always try to keep a positive mentality when I come here,” Brian says. “I get to work with some really, really good people on the docks. I’ve learned from the best people back there on the docks.”

He strives to help out everyone that he works with, whenever possible.

“When push comes to shove around here and you need help, you can always come and ask me.”

Dock worker Jerry Johnson says Brian has a huge heart and a great work ethic.
“He’s probably one of the most caring and helpful,” Jerry said. “He’s very good at taking initiative.”

Outside of work, Brian has a passion for television and video production. While in New York, he was very involved with Staten Island Community Television, and volunteered there for 11 years. Here in the Northland, he and a fellow Goodwill worker, also named Brian, put together a show about WWE wrestling on the local cable access channel.

Donate your gently used clothing today to help support Brian and his co-workers!

A Trip to the Capitol

Rodney Rodriguezby Valerie Clark, Public Relations Specialist, Goodwill Duluth

One of Goodwill’s own is proud to be making the trip down to St. Paul later this month to advocate for people with disabilities.

Rodney Rodriguez is scheduled to travel to Minnesota’s capitol on March 18, along with a large group from around the Twin Ports and the Range, to meet with state lawmakers.

“I have fun going down there,” said Rodney, who has made the trip each spring for the past four years.

Rodney is proud to get a chance to stand up for people with disabilities to secure funding for much-needed assistance programs in life areas where they might need a little help, such as transportation. Other key issues usually include healthcare and increased options in jobs and residences.

“It is important,” Rodney said.

Rodney has been working at Goodwill for nearly three decades. He doesn’t let impaired eyesight interfere with his ability to work hard, and he can usually be found rushing around Goodwill’s production areas, pushing carts of donated goods.

The trip is organized through the Self Advocacy Minnesota program, ARC Northland and ARC Range.