Bringing a Bright Smile to Goodwill

daveby Valerie Clark
Public Relations Specialist, Goodwill Duluth

Like anyone, David probably has a bad day every now and then. But to see his great positive attitude and never-ending smile, you’d never know it!

Dave has been working at Goodwill for about 15 years, and the 36-year-old currently works on the downstairs sorting line with work supervisor Tammi. He enjoys the position.

“She’s a great boss and I know what I’m doing,” Dave said. “She likes the way I work.”

He says he’s learned a lot through working at Goodwill, where people with disabilities and others with barriers to employment can gain the basic skills and experience they need to succeed in the workplace. For example, Dave has learned that it’s OK to ask for help with work tasks.

“If I have a question, I’ll ask,” Dave says. “If I can’t lift something heavy, I’ll just leave it in the cart and let somebody run it back to the furniture department, or I ask for help.”

In addition to a steady paycheck and a chance for increased independence, his job gives him a purpose, Dave says.

“It gives me something to be active in, because there’s not many jobs out there for people,” he explains. “I feel bad for the people that don’t have a job right now. That’s why I’m here to work, to make money, to work with my co-workers. It makes a very big difference. I feel sorry for the people that don’t have a job, that don’t live on their own.”

Dave has also learned many different work skills during his time at Goodwill. He’s been involved with the Choremasters lawn care crew in the summer, and has worked on the docks, with the transportation department, and in the furniture/electrical mechanical department. He’s even run the freight elevator a few times.

“I’ve done several jobs here,” he said.

Dave likes to stay busy in his free time too. He bowls and plays golf and softball, and enjoys fishing and spending time with his family.

Twenty Years and Many Jobs at Goodwill

by Valerie Clark
Public Relations Specialist, Goodwill Duluth

Jim has had so many different jobs at Goodwill that it’s hard for him to even remember all of them.

“I’ve been doing a lot,” says Jim, who has worked at Goodwill for 20 years. “Clothes baler, cardboard baler, runner, working on the belt, sorting, presort, and so many other jobs, too.”

During his two decades at Goodwill, Jim says, he’s learned a lot and has been given many new responsibilities.

“When they first had me start working on the clothes baler, they had someone show me how to do it,” Jim said. “I caught on. Anytime that person can’t make it or is not here, I take over.”

Jim also has a community job through Goodwill. He does recycling at Minnesota Power every Monday and Friday.

He has learned a lot about a wide variety of jobs during his time at Goodwill, but his favorite thing about working here is his co-workers.

“I started seeing more people that I didn’t know, and started making friends with them,” Jim said.

Jim lives with his mom in Superior. In his free time, he enjoys taking vacations with his family, visiting Madison or the Twin Cities. He likes to take bike rides around Superior.

Another hobby that Jim enjoys is photography. A fan of the Twin Ports’ natural beauty, some of his favorite subjects include ice sculptures by Lake Superior and the waterfalls at Amnicon Falls and Pattison Park. Others have started to take notice of his photography — the Minnesota Power Credit Union has published some of his waterfall photos in its calendar.

In July, Jim successfully earned his driver’s license. His brother is going to help him to start shopping for a car, which surely will lead to expanded photography trips to capture the beauty of the local area!

Becky Learns Key Job Skills at Goodwill

Becky might be one of the biggest Elvis fans you’ll ever meet, and this past year she got a chance to fulfill a lifelong dream and visit Graceland during a trip to Memphis, Tennessee.

“It was wonderful,” Becky says. “He had 14 acres. It seemed like a farm.”

The memorable trip is only one of many that Becky, who has Down syndrome, has taken in her 46 years.

“I travel everywhere,” said the Duluth native. Highlights include two recent trips to Florida, including a cruise in 2009, and a visit to Las Vegas. She’s even traveled as far away as England, and looks forward to many more trips in the future, even if it’s just up the North Shore to Grand Marais with her sister for shopping and mosaics classes.

When she’s not globe-trotting, Becky can be found working on one of Goodwill’s pre-sort production belts or maintaining the office break area. She’s worked with Goodwill for 30 years and in that time has held several different positions, learning how to do everything from hotel housekeeping and janitorial jobs to unloading trucks and sewing.

She has had a variety of community jobs as well, working at local restaurants like Pizza Hut, Burger King and McDonald’s.

“I’ve worked everywhere in the community,” says Becky, who also holds a sought-after spot on Goodwill’s Consumer Committee. In that role, she serves as a liaison between her co-workers and Goodwill staff members.

She’s learned some valuable job skills in her three decades with Goodwill, mainly the importance of attendance and punctuality.

“You have to make sure you get there on time,” she says. “I had to be more responsible for myself.”

Along the way, she’s met some great people as well.

“It’s wonderful being with a bunch of friends,” she says. “I love it.”