DOWNERS GROVE, Ill., May 7, 2019 /PRNewswire/ -- Robert Frank came to his local Goodwill store five years ago looking for a job that would give his life purpose. Since then, he has excelled as donation attendant and utility worker, and, with the help of his Goodwill Way Guide, he has learned to read at the age of 65. For his dedication to the job and his eagerness to learn, Goodwill Industries International is honoring Frank as its 2019 Achiever of the Year.
Frank suffered severe physical and emotional abuse throughout his childhood, including blows to the head that left him with a cognitive disability. He tried to hide the fact that he couldn't read and write, and he struggled to find a job that made him feel useful and accepted. For many years, he worked as a coat check attendant, dishwasher and cook.
"I thought I could do more, and something told me to go to Goodwill," said Frank. "My biggest goal is to be someone — and well respected. Everybody at the Goodwill never once put me down. Everybody is really supportive of me."
At the Goodwill store in Downers Grove, Frank enjoys cleaning, organizing and interacting with customers. He immediately impressed his supervisor with his hard work, but she noticed his struggles with reading and writing.
She referred him to Lauren James, a Goodwill Way Guide who works with employees needing support with child care, transportation and other services. James has no background in reading instruction, but she went online and printed out worksheets, then sat with Frank, working with him one-on-one. Soon he was able to write price tags and fill out forms. At age 65, he read a book for the first time.
"At first, Robert lacked self-confidence with reading and in the rest of his life," said James. "Now he has such a positive outlook. He says his favorite new words are magnificent and stupendous. He has career goals and financial goals."
"Robert is hard working and meticulous with any job he undertakes," said Jacqueline L. Hallberg, president and CEO of Goodwill Industries of Southeastern Wisconsin & Metropolitan Chicago. "His enthusiasm shines through. He has connected with both the customers and his colleagues, and has become an important part of the team. It is inspiring for his colleagues to see the confidence he brings to work every day."
"Robert is flourishing because he found the support structure he needed to help him learn and grow," said Steven C. Preston, president and CEO of Goodwill Industries International. "At Goodwill, we provide many different services, all with one goal — helping people with life challenges move into and advance through the workforce."
Frank says his job at Goodwill makes him feel independent, trustworthy and happy.
"When you're a nobody, then you become somebody. That's an amazing feeling to have," he said.
Goodwill Industries International's Achiever of the Year is a person who has shown great progress and accomplishment in overcoming challenges to finding employment, and who still benefits from the Goodwill work environment or receives services to support employment at a community site.
ABOUT GOODWILL INDUSTRIES OF SOUTHEASTERN WISCONSIN & METROPOLITAN CHICAGO
As Goodwill Industries of Southeastern Wisconsin & Metropolitan Chicago celebrates its 100th anniversary in 2019, the organization continues to work tirelessly to support job seekers with disabilities and disadvantages through training, placement and employment efforts. Last year alone, nearly 49,000 people received services and 9,473 men and women entered employment.
ABOUT GOODWILL INDUSTRIES INTERNATIONAL
Goodwill Industries International (GII) is a network of 160 community-based, autonomous organizations in the United States and Canada with a presence in 13 other countries. GII is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit that is recognized by GuideStar with its Platinum Seal of Approval, the organization's highest rating for charities. For the past three years, Goodwill was ranked in the top five brands that inspired consumers the most with its mission in the World Value Index, commissioned by the creative agency, enso. Goodwill has been on Forbes' list of top 20 most inspiring companies for three consecutive years, the only nonprofit featured on that list.
Local Goodwill organizations are innovative and sustainable social enterprises that offer job placement and training services, and other community-based programs by selling donated clothing and household items in more than 3,300 stores collectively and online at shopgoodwill.com®.
Goodwill helps people facing challenges to finding employment, including people with disabilities, veterans and military families, youth and young adults, older workers, people reintegrating into society, and others working to advance their careers. Local Goodwill organizations build revenues and expand employment opportunities by contracting with commercial, state, government and non-government organizations to provide a wide range of business services, including janitorial and grounds maintenance, flexible staffing, food service, manufacturing and contracts packaging, reverse logistics, document imaging and shredding, and laundry services.
Last year, local Goodwill organizations collectively placed more than 288,000 people in employment in the United States and Canada. In addition, more than 36 million people used computers and mobile devices to access Goodwill education, training, mentoring and online learning services to strengthen their skills, and more than two million people received in-person services.
Goodwill is both an icon and accessible neighbor: more than 82 percent of the U.S. population resides within 10 miles of a Goodwill location.
For more information or to find a Goodwill location near you, visit goodwill.org, or call (800) GOODWILL. Follow us on Twitter: @GoodwillIntl and @GoodwillCapHill, and find us on Facebook, Instagram and YouTube: GoodwillIntl.
SOURCE Goodwill Industries International