GREEN BAY – Goodwill North Central Wisconsin (Goodwill NCW) lit up Lambeau Field Atrium yesterday, October 3, with inspirational stories at their first-ever Gala event. Community leaders from across the region were invited to hear the stories of those whose lives are being transformed throughout north central Wisconsin through Goodwill NCW’s mission of Elevating People by Eliminating Barriers to Employment.

“This event was 52 years in the making,” Chris Hess, President and CEO at Goodwill NCW said. “It created an important opportunity to share the power of the Goodwill mission with our communities. Community partnerships and support from generous donors and shoppers make our mission impact possible and we want to extend our gratitude.”

Success stories of those whose lives have been impacted by Goodwill NCW’s mission were celebrated throughout the evening event, including the stories of Taylor Devenport, Mason Sabota and Fernando Sandoval.

Taylor Devenport: Taylor’s unique pathway led her from a program participant in Goodwill NCW’s School-to-Work program to a Senior Job Coach at the La Crosse Goodwill store. This year she was honored with Goodwill Industries International’s Achiever of the Year award. The international award recognized her journey of overcoming learning challenges and empowering others to reach their full potential.

She is now confidently taking the next steps to reach her career goals. “I am not afraid to do anything anymore. Goodwill NCW helped me grow into the person I am today. I can’t wait to see how far I can grow in my role,” Taylor said.

Watch Taylor’s video:

Goodwill NCW event speaker Taylor D.

Goodwill NCW event speaker Mason S.

Mason Sabota: From a young age, Mason always desired to work in a kitchen professionally. His family supported his career goals but wanted him to have the chance to explore other options too.

Through Goodwill NCW’s Project SEARCH site at ThedaCare in Appleton, Mason participated in three 10-week internships designed to prepare people with disabilities to enter the workforce. During the program, Mason gained hands-on work experience as an integrated member of various departments and confirmed his love of food service. After graduating from Project SEARCH, he was hired in dining services at ThedaCare.

“I like being a part of ThedaCare, I do. It’s a really nice team to work on. I feel amazing,” Mason said.

Project SEARCH is an international program that has a local presence in Appleton, thanks to a partnership with ThedaCare Regional Medical Center – Appleton, Goodwill NCW, CESA 6, Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development – Division of Vocational Rehabilitation, Lakeland Care and TMG Wisconsin.

Watch Mason’s video:

Fernando Sandoval: After a period of incarceration, Fernando joined the Goodwill NCW team at the Outlet Store in Appleton. He was met by a group of caring people who gave him a sense of worth.

“I have gone through a rough time in my life. You lose hope and think nobody cares. When I came to Goodwill, I found that people treat me with respect and give me hope for tomorrow,” Fernando said.

Fernando has been elevated within Goodwill NCW numerous times and most recently, moved into a store leadership role at the Oshkosh West Goodwill store. He is now paying it forward every day, giving people with barriers to employment the encouragement and support they need to be successful.

Watch Fernando’s video:

Goodwill NCW event speaker Fernando S.

The theme of the event, “Goodwill NCW Starts with You!,” invited the community to get involved in the organization in the following ways: