BRIDGEPORT- Goodwill of Western & Northern Connecticut is honoring three remarkable individuals who are defying the odds and achieving amazing personal success with the help of Goodwill’s programs and services.
Calvin Boyd of Ansonia is being honored with the Spirit of Perseverance Award for his drive and determination to find work despite receiving benefits that supported him since childhood.
Kendra D’Andrea of Fairfield is being celebrated with the Spirit of Determination Award for overcoming personal and professional challenges that previously prevented her from supporting her three children.
Lakeisha Butler of Bridgeport is being revered with the Spirit of Inspiration Award for taking control of her life after an incredibly tough childhood where she lacked the motivation and support to succeed.
This inspiring trio is being honored by Goodwill at this year’s Annual Achievement Awards Luncheon on April 27 in Trumbull.
In addition, Goodwill is recognizing two valuable community partners who are supporting the Goodwill mission to provide employment and support services to people with disabilities and other challenges. The Capitol Region Education Council (CREC) in Hartford is being acknowledged with the Community Partner Award for providing educational resources that enable greater employment opportunities for Goodwill’s Hartford clients. Highland Park Market of Manchester is also being honored by Goodwill with the Employer of the Year Award for its commitment to helping Goodwill’s program participants achieve gainful employment, making special accommodations and maintaining a compassionate understanding of how to work with individuals with disabilities.
“The Goodwill story is told through the moving stories of our honorees, each with their own unique pathway to success,” said Vickie Volpano, President, Goodwill of Western & Northern Connecticut. “We are proud to celebrate their achievements, and grateful for the support of our customers and community partners. Whether people are donating gently used items or shopping in our stores, their generosity is helping to change a life. We remain committed to the families and communities we serve, helping individuals improve the quality of their lives through the power and dignity of work.”
Spirit of Perseverance
Diagnosed with lead poisoning at an early age, Calvin Boyd struggled with a learning disability throughout his childhood and early adult life. Despite receiving Social Security Disability Income, Calvin wanted more for himself.
Thankfully, Calvin was able to find relief when his job search brought him to Goodwill in Bridgeport for employment opportunities. Goodwill’s Community Employment Services program worked to determine Calvin’s strengths and challenges. As a result, Park City Green, a mattress recycling company in Bridgeport hired him on the spot. While he initially had minimal hours, he was later elevated and now works more than 35 hours a week and has garnered the nickname “Hercules” by his co-workers.
Spirit of Determination
A single mom of three kids, some with special needs, Kendra D’Andrea needed to earn more money to cover rising medical bills and better support her family. Unfortunately, the school she was working for as a Special Education Teacher kept passing her up for promotions due to Kendra’s lack of teaching certifications. Then in August 2014, she discovered Goodwill’s Career Center in Westport. Career Coaches worked with Kendra to develop her resume and draft a more compelling cover letter. They also worked with her to perfect her interviewing techniques and job searching skills.
Success materialized in November 2016 when Kendra landed her dream job as a special education teacher to 8 students in grades 1-3. While Kendra always gave her all to her students, she now has the financial means to really support the classroom with materials to help kids who can’t afford some basic needs for themselves. She has also returned to her graduate studies program earning the credits needed for sixth year pay.
Spirit of Inspiration
Lakeisha Butler has always wanted to work in healthcare. After her mom was diagnosed with schizophrenia and deemed unfit to provide for her children, 4-year-old Lakeisha Butler and her five siblings were put into foster care. At age seven her aunt took her in, but it didn’t last long as her aunt moved and gave the house to Lakiesha’s father and step mom. After graduating high school, Lakiesha was referred to the Workforce Innovation Opportunity Act, but became frustrated and angry when she learned the program was for customer service and retail training.
While the first couple classes at Goodwill were difficult for Lakeisha, she eventually developed a lasting friendship with Elpidia who became a positive role model. “Elpidia inspired me and motivated me to get it together,” said Lakeisha.
Then, during a subsequent tour of Goodwill, Lakeisha learned about the Community Experience Program for multiple and/or severe disabilities. She gravitated to the people in this program and began to volunteer a couple days a week. She eventually passed the National Retail Federation Exam through Goodwill and got hired during a Goodwill Career Center hiring event as a home health aid. She currently has one client, whom she loves, and works 5 days a week, 11 hours a day, taking public transportation to make it happen.
The Capitol Region Education Council (CREC) has partnered with the Goodwill Career Center in Hartford since 2013. Many of the clients served through the Career Center come looking for employment, but have an educational barrier that prevents them from finding and attaining stable work. To help meet this critical community need, CREC has extended their GED programming to Goodwill’s Hartford clients. They are equipped and able to work with individuals who may have significant challenges hindering any progress towards GED attainment (learning disabilities, language barriers, etc) by providing them with the necessary accommodations for their individual success.
In addition, CREC has opened up a new channel of referrals to Goodwill Career Centers by encouraging their students to visit and utilize Goodwill’s unique services that allow them to continue their learning progress outside of class time. CREC staff is always available to provide their expertise when needed and most recently provided training to Goodwill staff that included insights into working with adult learners.
Employer of the Year
Highland Park Market has been a strong supporter of Goodwill’s mission to assist people with disabilities and other challenges to employment. Over the years, this unique locally owned, community-based company has helped Goodwill clients secure gainful employment. The company works with Goodwill’s program participants to make their work experiences a great one, providing on-the-job training, paid work, job coaching and other training and supervision. They make special accommodations and have a compassionate understanding on how to work with individuals with disabilities.
Highland Park Market has provided work evaluation or employment opportunities to at least ten Goodwill clients – five of these individuals are currently employed with the company. The company is extremely gracious and dedicated to hiring Goodwill’s program participants. Whenever they are approached about employment opportunities they work hard to find a position or make a position available.
ABOUT GOODWILL OF WESTERN AND NORTHERN CONNECTICUT
Goodwill of Western and Northern Connecticut is a non-profit organization that serves people with disabilities, economic disadvantages and other challenges to employment. Goodwill helps people achieve independence and self-sufficiency through job training and other support services. www.gwct.org
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