Enthusiasm Leading the Way: Joyce’s Goodwill Story

  • Michael Fox |
  • | Mission

At the Goodwill of Central Iowa Recognition Awards last November, Joyce Hannaman was recognized for completing one year of employment. Her Taco John’s branded apparel ensured everyone immediately recognized her employer, and the smile beaming across her face established the sense of pride she had from the milestone. It was a good day for all who were lucky to witness.

Joyce poses with Karin Carver and Heather Wittrock.

But Joyce’s life didn’t always share this meaningful purpose. Before enrolling at Goodwill, she struggled.

“I felt a little empty inside because I didn’t have a job,” she recalls. “I wanted a job so I could make my own money.”

Launching Her Journey

Joyce was referred to Goodwill by Eyerly Ball, and her first step on the path to employment was enrolling in a skills training program, a combination of paid hands-on and classroom training utilizing Goodwill facilities to train for industry specific skills and competencies. This curriculum helped her gain real-world experience so that when securing a job, she would have confidence in the tasks assigned to her.

She also received coaching on soft skills including communication and social boundaries. Joyce’s enthusiasm is infectious and her sweet demeanor evident, but if she was going to be in the workforce, she needed to understand when the time was appropriate for conversation and personal exchanges.

Preparing for the Next Step

Upon completing 30 shifts in skills training, she worked with Heather Wittrock, a Goodwill career specialist who was relatively new to her role at the time. Joyce was one of the first participants assigned to her, and they connected immediately.

“When you click with someone right away, when you’re a little nervous about your own job in the first place, it felt good because we were both in it together,” said Heather. “It felt like meeting a lifetime friend right away.”

One of the first items they worked on was keeping Joyce’s personal and professional life separate, something that she had struggled to do in the past. There was one instance in training where she called in because her mail wasn’t arriving on time and it was giving her anxiety. With Heather’s coaching, Joyce learned how to overcome unforeseen obstacles like this and not allowing it to deter her entire day.

The next step was applying for jobs. One day the two of them were at the Goodwill Career Connection Center in Johnston looking through job listings. Joyce saw an opening with Taco John’s and was immediately excited. They sent in an application and soon heard back from Dana, the store manager. With an interview date set, Heather began work getting Joyce prepared.

“She likes to talk so she needed to know a starting point and a stopping point, otherwise she wouldn’t ever get to the second question,” Heather laughed.

“Joyce would hug every person she met if she could,” Heather shared. “I had to explain that you can’t hug everyone that comes in for a taco. We really focused on her professionalism, and her boundaries improved.”

When the time came to interview, Joyce was ready to ace it with her supports at her side. She shared that she wasn’t nervous because her training had assured her she could do this job and do it well.

“I think Heather was more nervous for me than I was,” shared Joyce. “I knew before I even walked in, I said, ‘I have a funny feeling I’m going to get this job.'”

That confidence was a gamechanger. Joyce immediately impressed Dana. Her enthusiasm was palpable.

“She smiled through the entire interview,” Dana said. “It’s one of the reasons I hired her. She had a great personality and was so willing to learn.”

“I got the job!” recalled Joyce. “December 18, 2017. I have it written down on a calendar at home!”

Joyce wipes down the sauce bar.

Finding Her Footing

Once Joyce secured the position another member was added to her team: Karin Carver, a Goodwill job coach. Through the Supported Employment Program, job coaches help participants transition into a new job placement, become accustomed to the work culture and provide ongoing support to help them maintain their position.

Karin was a perfect fit for Joyce because she ultimately had confidence in Joyce’s abilities.

Joyce first started her job at the drive-through. She had experience running a register in the past, but this time proved to be difficult. Joyce has the ability to multi-task but struggled to do so at the needed pace in this environment. Karin worked with her to keep calm, focus on her tasks and positively interact with customers.

Joyce found focusing on all the moving parts to be stressful, but the management team at Taco John’s did a great job of making adjustments to help her succeed. A co-worker would take the order, Joyce would hear it in her headphone, then put the order together and communicate with customers at the window.

When Joyce wasn’t working the register, she would clean the lobby. Dana noticed that she did a great job, taking pride in the polished results while interacting with diners.

“Customers loved her,” noted Karin. “She was very sociable yet got her work done. She was fastidious with what she did.”

Joyce stands proudly in front of the Taco John's order desk.

Dana then had an idea to maximize Joyce’s potential and moved her to the lobby attendant position where she absolutely flourished.

“Dana is like a dream come true when it comes to being a great boss,” Joyce exclaimed. “She’s always been good to me and I would not trade her for anything in the world.”

When her one-year anniversary was approaching, Joyce and Karin agreed that she was no longer in the need of a job coach because Joyce had grown so much and established natural support within Taco John’s.

“Joyce had developed a really positive relationship with her supervisors and coworkers,” said Karin. “They’re very supportive of her.”

“The staff loves Joyce,” said Dana. “She’s kind of like a grandma to everyone. We look after her and she looks after us. She’ll check on us if there’s anything we need done, or even if she feels like we’re having a bad day, Joyce will offer an ear, a shoulder or even a hug. She gives the best hugs!”


Joyce makes an impact on everyone she meets. Karin still drops by from time to time to visit and see how she’s doing. Heather touches base with Joyce by phone or text. The other staff at Goodwill of Central Iowa relish any opportunity to run into her, including the recognition ceremony in November when she picked up her certificate for one year of employment.

The Taco John’s store has been a great experience for Joyce. So much so that she wants to work there for the next 10 years when she plans to retire.

“I’m proud of my accomplishments with Taco John’s,” she shared. “I’ve grown to be independent. I’m my own payee and have my own apartment. I owe the job to Heather and the whole organization of Goodwill. I enjoy my job, and I work hard at it. I look forward to coming here every day.”

When you donate and shop at Goodwill of Central Iowa, you make successes like Joyce’s possible. In fact, 85 cents of every dollar earned in our retail stores and through shopgoodwill.com supports our mission of improving the quality of life for all individuals by providing skills training and helping people find jobs. Find the location closest to you or make a monetary donation to show your support.

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