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Goodwill recognizes courage of client who overcame barriers

Goodwill Industries of the Inland Northwest recently announced that a former client, Alex, is the recipient of its 2016 Graduate of the Year Award.

The award recognizes the accomplishments of a participant who is employed by a company or organization outside of Goodwill, which serves more than 6,200 men, women and teens in Eastern Washington and Northern Idaho in 2015.

Alex, said development director Heather Alexander, is an example of how Goodwill helped someone overcome barriers to independence through staff encouragement.

“In the years I have worked for Goodwill, I have watched our staff step alongside people we serve, encouraging them—filling them with courage and hope to accomplish their goals,” Heather said.

For some, it has been the courage to apply for a job.

For others, it has been the courage to walk through a job interview, and strive on towards the next one when the first door closes.

For still others, it has been the courage to do more things for themselves and move into more independent living, rather than relying on others to help them in their daily tasks.

Alex is someone Goodwill served during 2015.  Heather first met him in the fall.

His case manager recommended Alex as a success story for Goodwill’s employee newsletter.

“His story has been an inspiration to me and to many who watched his story unfold,” Heather said.

Alex didn’t grow up with some of the luxuries and security that many take for granted. His family struggled.

Often, as a teen, he took care of his siblings, creating meals with whatever he could find in the kitchen. A big kid, he was a good athlete, intimidating on the field and off the field.

By the time he was 13, Alex became involved in drugs and alcohol. By the time he was 20, jail was a familiar place.

“Eventually, Alex realized he had become someone he didn’t like,” Heather said.

He missed his family and friends. He wanted to be loved and needed, but he was sitting in a jail cell facing a long sentence. He wanted to change his life.  When he was released on parole, Alex was sent to Goodwill to attend job classes.

“At first, he thought it all a waste of time, but he soon discovered that the caring staff really could make a difference, and help him find the resources he needed to become independent,” she said.

Soon, Alex secured a full-time job he loved that would support his family.

After several months, Alex received a promotion he never thought possible because of his felony record.

“His children now look at him with pride, and his fiancĂ© is looking forward to marrying her friend who has overcome his demons to live the life he has long desired,” Heather said.

He has become a mentor for other men who have felt trapped by their choices, an encourager to youth who are tempted by the same choices he faced, and coworkers who feel like they are stuck.

There is more on Alex’s story on Goodwill’s YouTube channel at

“Goodwill is able to help people like Alex because of the support of our donors and shoppers,” she said. “Out of every dollar earned in our stores, 85 cents funds our mission programs.  Shoppers help men and women discover the pride and joy of work, being part of a team, accomplishing tasks they did not know they could tackle, and finding the courage to reach their goals, and then reach higher,” she said.

For information, call 838-4246.

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