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Goodwill Mission Stories

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Goodwill Leadership Forum Advances The Power of Work

Strengthening Chicago’s Economic and Employment Outlook Through The Power of Work

In observance of Workforce Development Month this September, Goodwill Industries of Southeastern Wisconsin and Metropolitan Chicago organized a dynamic and inspiring Workforce Development Leadership Forum in the heart of downtown Chicago. This inaugural forum was more than just a gathering; it was a testament to The Power of Work. We convened a network of community leaders to focus on the current regional economy and job market and the power of workforce development to help job seekers connect to essential resources and opportunities that fuel the growth of individuals, businesses and communities.

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Goodwill Partnership Creates Sense of Community

Home Delivered Meals Drivers Deliver Meaningful Connection

Regenia Thomas-Love, Goodwill Home Delivered Meals Driver, using Beautiful Questions to engage meal recipient Loyal R. on their daily route. Photo Credit: TimeSlips Creative

Nearly one-fourth of adults aged 65 and older are considered socially isolated from their community and natural social structures like family and friends. Isolation can result in an increased risk of loneliness and serious medical conditions, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

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“Fantastic” is the word Justin used to describe his Greenhouse Staff position with BGC Growers. Justin, who has a learning disability, explained that his passion for horticulture began when he was attending Shepherd’s College. He loved being able to work outside with plants and soil and said that working behind a desk was not for him. Upon his graduation from Shepherd’s College in May 2022, Justin took the first step in achieving his dream job by connecting with his Department of Workforce Development Division of Vocational Rehabilitation (DVR) Counselor.

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Johanna had entered Milwaukee County’s Comprehensive Community Services (CCS) program, employed at a job that was jeopardizing her health and recovery. After being in the CCS program for 2 months, she began to speak with her Care Coordinator about wanting a new job. She wanted a job that would not be as stressful as her current job, and one that would allow her some accommodations while working, such as being able to sit and stand on occasion. In February of 2022, Johanna began working with Employment Specialist, Saprina Johnson, with Goodwill’s Individual Placement and Support (IPS) Program.

Johanna was working part time as an activity assistant with a nursing home. At first this job excited her, but as time went on, it began to tax her recovery. Johanna was feeling overworked and in need of a new job to protect her mental health and recovery.

Once Saprina began meeting with Johanna, she knew right away that the motivation factor was high, but Johanna needed some guidance and support for her to reach her job goal. Saprina and Johanna started with updating her resume. Johanna was serious about wanting a new job, and she was willing to stay at her current job until her new opportunity arrived. Saprina helped Johanna understand the ways in which one can be professional while still sticking up for oneself and also helped Johanna with presenting her best self on applications and during interviews. Saprina and Johanna would continue to meet each week to update resumes and cover letters and apply to jobs together.

Johanna began to talk with Saprina about a past job in security that she had liked. Saprina had a connection with a security company called, Par Mar Security, where she knew one of the managers. Because of this connection, Johanna was able to apply and interview for a security guard position for the company. They offered her a position that she began on March 8, 2022 and were accommodating with Johanna on completing their onboarding procedures After successfully working 90 days, Johanna notified Saprina that she no longer needed IPS services Saprina was proud of Johanna and the growth she had shown since they began working together. Saprina let Johanna know that IPS would be available if she ever needed employment help again. Johanna was successfully discharged from Goodwill’s IPS Program on April 25th, 2022, employed as a Security Guard.

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A Roadmap to Independence Through Goodwill’s IPS Program

When Goodwill's Individual Placement and Support (IPS) employment specialist, Julie Loth, began working with Michelle in late January 2021, Michelle was eager to return to working in the food service industry. She also wanted to renew her state approved ServSafe certification, which verifies food safety knowledge that protects the public from foodborne illness.

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Goodwill Wins Multiple Awards at Annual IPS Awards

Goodwill Industries of Southeastern Wisconsin, several members of Goodwill’s Individual Placement and Support (IPS) team and one of Goodwill’s employer partners have been recognized for their achievements in helping people with mental health concerns better their lives through employment.

IPS is an international evidence-based program that helps people with mental illness and/or substance use disorders find and keep jobs. The program can also assist with educational goals that will lead to employment. Goodwill operates IPS services throughout Milwaukee County.

The IPS Awards are given out each year at the annual Wisconsin IPS Learning Collaborative Conference. Winners are nominated by their peers, supervisors and community partners.

Goodwill was recognized in the following categories:

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Shawn lives by himself and enjoys the connections he has with his church, watching TV (Knight Rider is his favorite) and daydreaming.  

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Goodwill's Individual Placement and Support (IPS) program is a partnership with the Milwaukee County Behavioral Health Division, Wisconsin Division of Rehabilitation (DVR), the Wisconsin Department of Health Services and the University of Wisconsin - Madison.

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Crystal was a young teen mother when she began working at Goodwill. Faced with the challenges of a baby to care for, her job attendance began to suffer. After talking with the Goodwill management team, Crystal focused on how to improve her situation and entered Goodwill's Career Path program. Now Crystal enjoys a healthy work-life balance and providing for her son. When you shop and donate to Goodwill the revenue from the sale of donated goods helps people like Crystal overcome barriers and gain independence.

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For Ron, working at Goodwill is the best job he's ever had. He's seen first-hand how Goodwill saves lives. As a Director of Goodwill's Supply Chain, Ron oversees an operation of 75 people, and each person has a story to share. For some it's about transformation, for others it means overcoming hardships as well as gaining dignity and independence.

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Mission Support Center
Tel: (414) 847-4200

James O. Wright Center forWork & Training
Tel: (414) 353-6400

Metropolitan Chicago -
Tel: (312) 994-1440