The Ashwaubenon Goodwill’s approach to serving program participants is opening up opportunities for individuals and for the store.
Their efforts are highlighted in the success of Joseph Healy, a former School-to-Work program participant who was hired as a part-time team member. The School-to-Work program provides valuable work experience for high school students with disabilities through a cooperative effort between Goodwill and area school districts. These work experiences help to bridge the gap between the classroom and working in the community.
“We don’t put limits on our program participants or treat them differently,” said Rosa McMorrow, Store Team Leader.
From day one, everyone is made to feel welcome, included and comfortable. Because of that, Joseph is willing to ask team members or leaders questions.
The Ashwaubenon team focuses on getting students an extra hour of work at the store after school without the assistance of a teacher so they can gain independence and can be hired right out of school.
Through School-to-Work, Joseph would work three days a week and would have an extra hour or two of independent skill development. He also worked independently in the summer before he was hired on as a team member. In his time on his own, he stepped in to learn multiple roles.
Joseph also has broken down a social skills barrier. When he first started, his mom expressed concern that he wasn’t very social and that she wanted him to be able to speak more to people.
Knowing that, the team inquired about some of his interests and used conversations about them to get him to open up.
“Now he openly starts conversations, and that has helped with his development as a person,” Rosa said. “It wasn’t just one person who helped him along the way … it was everyone. Everybody had their hands in it.”
Joseph, who takes initiative and makes the store look better, is such an important part of the team that Rosa asked him if he has post-graduation plans.
“He’s got a full-time job here if he ever wants one.”