ROCKVILLE, Md., May 6, 2014 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Devin Williams doesn't shy away from telling his story, which includes substance abuse and time in prison, because he hopes he can help others who may have taken a similar path. While incarcerated, he took advantage of every educational opportunity available. Upon Williams' release, Goodwill Industries of the Valleys (Roanoke, VA) helped him access funds to continue his education and obtain work experience that led to a full-time job. Goodwill Industries International named Williams its 2014 Kenneth Shaw Graduate of the Year for his efforts in overcoming obstacles to workplace success.
Williams started drinking and using drugs in high school. In 2004, a felony conviction landed him in prison. It was there he took personal responsibility for his actions. He says, "Six years was a lot of time to think about what went wrong. I realized that only I was responsible for being in there, and only I could be responsible for getting out and back on my feet."
Getting back on his feet included earning 63 college credits while still behind bars and saving money by cleaning prison restrooms for 27 cents an hour. While in prison, he learned of the Roanoke Goodwill's services for people who were formally incarcerated. The day after his release, Williams showed up at the Goodwill Jobs Campus. Workforce Investment Act (WIA) funds helped him finish his associate of applied science degree with a wastewater specialization. Goodwill brokered a work-experience opportunity for Williams at the Western Virginia Water Authority, where he was eventually hired full-time and has received two promotions. Williams is now pursuing a bachelor's degree in civil engineering with a focus on environmental science.
"With Goodwill's support and his own hard work and positive attitude, Devin is inspiring others who've made wrong choices but who want to build successful lives beyond incarceration," said Jim Gibbons, president and CEO of Goodwill Industries International. "Devin looked for an opportunity behind every challenge and earned a second chance. He serves as an ambassador for Goodwill's programs and the successes that individuals and Goodwill can achieve together."
Williams will receive his award at Goodwill's annual Delegate Assembly meeting in Austin, TX, this June. The 2014 Kenneth Shaw Graduate of the Year Award is sponsored by Dell®.
Goodwill Industries International's Kenneth Shaw Graduate of the Year Award honors an outstanding person for completing a Goodwill Industries® career program and becoming competitively employed by a non-Goodwill employer in the community. The award was renamed in 2008 to honor the late Kenneth Shaw's significant contributions to the Goodwill movement over a four-decade period.
SOURCE Goodwill Industries International