Tag Archives: Goodwill Mission Services Center

Success Story

This week I was able to visit one of my participants that recently was placed in one of our retail stores at work and catch her in action. One of the best aspects of my job, personally, is getting to see the impact having a job can have on someone that I have worked with. Here is a little bit of Amanda’s story:


Amanda participated in Goodwill’s Clerical Training and Retail Skills Programs in order to increase her job skills and market herself better to perspective employers. Before coming to Goodwill Amanda had never been employed before, other than in the summer as a babysitter for Rockford residents. To keep herself busy, Amanda has been involved and done volunteer but was looking for something more.

Through Goodwill’s programs, Amanda learned time management skills, interview and job retention skills, how to make a resume and cover letter, how to best present herself at job fairs and how to work in the retail industry. “I love working; I’ve never had a real job before, and working at Goodwill feels great,” said Amanda. “I get along with my co-workers, love interacting with the customers and feeling needed when I can answer their questions—working gives me a sense of independence I didn’t have before.”

Prior to working with Goodwill Amanda had difficulty getting to meetings on time, remembering when she had tasks to due and other responsibilities. She has been working on these skills on her own and with her job placement specialist, but having a job to go to gave her the motivation she needed to succeed.

“I’m able to interact with other peers, learn responsibility and manage my time better,” said Amanda. “Goodwill gave me the opportunity to work when others wouldn’t. My job is awesome and I couldn’t be happier to be working.”

People Overcoming Barriers

In past posts I have highlighted famous celebrities and well known figures that have disabilities as a point of inspiration and to illustrate that given the right amount of determination and knowledge people can do anything; with or without a disability. This week I found an article from a couple of years ago about a young woman with down syndrome who is just as inspiring as any celebrity with a disability and is a great role model for people going through difficult times or who simply need courage for whatever the case may be.

Bridgett Brown, from Darien IL, was the first student with Down Syndrome that was mainstreamed into a school district. She is also accredited for having started her own advocacy organization, Butterflies for Change. Bridgett is also interested in acting and had a small role in the movie LOL with Miley Cyrus; proving that with determination anything can happen.

In an article published by Grape-Nuts, Bridget had a question and answer session with an interviewer where she admitted to some of the biggest challenges that face a person with a disability and how to overcome them. Her answer: Hope.

Q. What’s the biggest challenge you’ve faced?
A. My biggest challenge is learning to live a full life with a disability and being an advocate for myself and for others.

Q. What inspired you to take this challenge?
A. I was the first person included in my school starting in preschool all the way through high school. So from the beginning of my life, I have learned to be an advocate for people with disabilities and for myself. I started to advocate for the rights of people with disabilities when I went to Springfield in eighth grade and started to advocate for people to live in their community. This is a lifelong challenge because we have a long way to go in our state when it comes to including people with disabilities in their schools and communities. I continue to help people find their voice so they can share their hopes and dreams with the world.

Q. Did you succeed?
A. I think my job is to be a hope holder and encourage people to dwell in the possibilities. I have my own consulting organization called Butterflies for Change and I am a national Keynote Speaker. I work in the dental field and for PACE as a disability spokesperson. Yes, I did succeed at being included in my school, and I succeed when I work with individuals with disabilities and help them find their voice. I help people understand inclusion and welcome people with disabilities by opening their hearts, minds and doors for them. I think I have been successful sharing hope and encouraging others. I have lots of goals. I would like to go to college, continue my acting career and be in more movies, and grow my advocacy organization Butterflies for Change. I would like to train other people with disabilities to be public speakers. I would also like to write a book to help people with disabilities find their own voice. I am also here to help others. My saying is: HOPE GIVES US THE COURAGE TO TAKE A CHANCE ON OUR FUTURE.

Having a disability is part of everyday life for millions of people in America. What is important is learning to live with that disability and give hope to others who might be going through similar situations. That is why individuals like Bridgett are so inspirational.

Success Story

This week I want to highlight the success of one of my participants:


Laura came to Goodwill for placement services after working as an interpreter for a hospital for 18 years. She was laid off because times were changing and with the demands of new technology and the computer age. Laura found that she couldn’t keep up since she did not grow up with the knowledge and skills that many young people today do.

When Laura first came to Goodwill and started looking for a job she was taught how to navigate the internet, to increase her typing speed, the basics of working a computer, interview skills, how to apply for a job, how to handle difficult work situations and work readiness skills. Laura has always worked and dedicated her time to family and taking care of others. She quit school after the sixth grade to take care of her family and was concerned about finding another job.

“Goodwill lent me a shoulder when I needed one and was wonderful to me,” said Laura. “My spirits are up again. I was very depressed before and didn’t want to do even the smallest thing. Now I am ready for anything.”

Through Goodwill’s placement services program Laura was able to search for work and had her first job interview. With a lot of hard work and determination Laura found a job working as an interpreter and trainer at the Workforce Connection Center. She is also helping individuals with resumes and the computers in the lab, using the skills taught to her.

“Trust in Goodwill and they will be able to help you find your way. After loosing my job I thought I was going to go crazy; Goodwill is the reason I am working again. They helped me find my purpose.”

May is Disability Insurance Month

Disability Insurance Month Image

This week I am going to blog about something a little bit different and for a lot of people probably one of their least favorite topics, insurance. Now you may ask what does insurance have to do with my job as an Employment Specialist for people with disabilities, but when I was looking online this morning I discovered that May is Disability Insurance Awareness Month.

While it is true that I help people find work, I also help my participants once they are employed for the first 90 days. I have also been asked to help participants understand their employee benefits One of them that has come up a lot is disability insurance. This is not something that all employers offer their employees, but it is something important for everyone to think about and be aware of. Earning a living is many people’s motivation for working.

If that paycheck was taken away due to an unexpected illness or injury that prevented someone from working, it could cause a lot of hardship. That is where disability insurance comes in; think of it as ensuring your paycheck. It ensures that if you are unable to work, you will continue to receive an adjusted income.

Attaining disability insurance is not always a high priority for many workers, or even something that they think about when accepting a job. Many people assume that they are either covered through Social Security, state-mandated Workers’ Compensation or employer-provided group plans, or that nothing will ever happen so why worry about it.

This is not to say that everyone needs to plan for the worse. Be aware that life does happen and know what your benefits are and what is available to you.

Statistically, approximately 45% of people who apply for disability via Social Security are denied. For the people who are approved, they get an average benefit of $1,063 a month, which does not replace many employees’ income. Also keep in mind that worker’s compensation covers only work-related disabilities. According to the National Safety Council, 73 % of disabling events or illnesses are not work related.

So, what does all of this mean? Explore your options when you start to consider insurance and make sure that disability is included. If your employer offers disability cover, make sure to learn what that entails. Take this month as the opportunity to do your research and make sure you are aware of your benefits and what is available.

Learning Disabilities

For this week’s post I wanted to share this image from the National Center for Learning Disabilities. I found it while pursuing information for people with disabilities on pinterest, a great site for information, and I thought it had a lot of good information on it.


For more information on people with learning disabilities check out http://www.ncld.org.

Social Security Disability

After reading Senator Rob Portman’s statement last week regarding the Social Security Disability Fund, I decided that my topic for the blog would be SSDI and what it means for people with disabilities.

Senator Portman stated that, “The Social Security disability fund is going belly up in 2016.” The article goes on to explain that due to increased spending and the number or people claiming social security disability there is not enough money currently in the fund to last after the year 2016.

The article also continues to reassure people that Congress and the White House are likely to act before then. The point is to make people aware of what is happening.

For some people with disabilities working is not an option which is why having another means of supporting themselves, such as SSDI or SSI is beneficial. For others, these government benefits works as supplemental income, allowing people with disabilities to hold a part time job or look for work that is suitable to them. SSDI is not a long term answer for everyone who has a disability and should not be viewed as such.

As a person who works with people with disabilities I am often asked: what is the difference between SSI and SSDI?
Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) pays benefits to you and certain members of your family if you are “insured,” meaning that you worked long enough and paid Social Security taxes.

Supplemental Security Income(SSI) pays benefits based on financial need.
When you apply for either program, the Social Security Administration will collect medical and other information from you and make a decision about whether or not you meet their definition of having a qualifying disability.

To read the rest of the article regarding the future of Social Security Disability please visit http://www.politifact.com/ohio/statements/2013/apr/15/rob-portman/sen-rob-portman-says-social-security-disability-fu/

About a Disability: ADHD

This week I wanted to talk a little about Attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). When I talk to Goodwill’s program participants- that have ADHD- I feel that this is a disability that is often misunderstood, especially in children but in adults as well. When people think of ADHD people often think of a very hyper person that simply doesn’t want to or know how to behave or calm down. I have known many people with ADHD and this is a common stereotype.

The reality is that ADHD causes significant difficulties of inattention or hyperactivity and impulsiveness or a combination of the two and makes it very difficult to concentrate or focus. It is estimated that between two and five percent of adults live with ADHD. It is difficult to diagnose ADHD because the symptoms can be difficult to differentiate from other disorders, increasing the likelihood that the diagnosis of ADHD will be missed.

Myth: ADHD is simply a label for behavior problems; children with ADHD just refuse to sit still and are unwilling to listen to teachers or parents.

Fact: Many with ADHD have few behavior problems; chronic inattention symptoms cause more severe and longer-lasting problems for learning and relationships for those with ADHD.

Myth: ADHD is a simple problem of being hyperactive or not listening when someone is talking to you.

Fact: ADHD is a complex disorder that involves impairments in focus, organization, motivation, emotional modulation, memory, and other functions of the brain’s management system.

Myth: Someone can’t have ADHD and also have depression, anxiety, or other psychiatric problems.

Fact: A person with ADHD is six times more likely to have another psychiatric or learning disorder than most other people. ADHD usually overlaps with other disorders.

Myth: Unless you have been diagnosed with ADHD as a child, you can’t have it as an adult.

Fact: Many adults have struggled all their lives with unrecognized ADHD impairments. They haven’t received help because they assumed that their chronic difficulties, like depression or anxiety, were caused by other impairments.

Myth: Medications for ADHD are likely to cause longer-term problems with substance abuse or other health concerns.

Fact: The risks when using appropriate medications to treat ADHD are minimal, whereas the risks when not using medication to treat ADHD are significant. The medications used for ADHD are among the best researched for any disorder.

Myth: ADHD doesn’t really cause much damage to a person’s life.

Fact: Untreated or inadequately treated ADHD syndrome often severely impairs leaning, family life, education, work life, social interactions, and driving safely. Most of those with ADHD who receive adequate treatment, however, function quite well.

Now that you know a little more about ADHD, a disability that is more common than most people realize, I’ll give you something else to think about. Have you ever wondered just how many people around you might have a disability; people you never even thought about? If anything, this realization should make people recognize that having a disability doesn’t change a person; it just gives them a little something extra that they have in their lives to live with.

Famous people with ADHD include:
1. Michael Phelps-Most decorated Olympian
2. Eliza Coupe-Actress
3. Ryan Gosling-Actor
4. Trudie Styler-Actress and filmmaker
5. Jim Carrey-Actor
6. Justin Timberlake-Singer
7. Will Smith-Actor
8. Ty Pennington-Television host
9. Solange Knowles-Singer
10. Michelle Rodriguez-Actress
11. Howie Mandel-Television host
12. Terry Bradshaw-Former NFL Quarterback
13. Pete Rose-Major league Baseball player
14. Robin Williams-Actor