Navigating Unexpected Change: John’s Goodwill Story

  • Michael Fox |
  • | Mission
John poses at a baler.

In the backroom of the DAV Thrift Store, John Haskins, or “Big John” as his coworkers call him, carries a box of clothes over to a baler. He empties the box, tosses it in a pile and repeats the cycle until it’s time to activate the machine. He presses the button on the hulking device, and it compresses the assorted clothing into dense cubes to be shipped out. Without his hard work, the production line backs up and the whole process grinds to a halt.

“Everyone is happy when he’s here, because he gets everything baled so fast and everyone can keep doing their job,” his manager, Chris Blong, shared.

He fits in well with his coworkers and the sense of community in the store is unmistakable.

There was a time in John’s life though, when things weren’t going this smoothly.

A few years back, John was working at a local restaurant in a janitorial position that was tailor-made to his abilities. Everything was going great for him. His manager appreciated his abilities and strong work ethic. Then the manager left, and their replacement wasn’t willing to meet John where he was at. They had a new set of standards and expectations that felt unattainable to John.

Alyssa Arends was working as his Goodwill career specialist at the time and noticed that he was struggling.

“He was stressed because he wanted to do a good job, but his barrier got in the way, like his stamina. They just weren’t willing to accommodate in the ways that would best suit him.”

Fortunately, John had Alyssa and his Goodwill job coach, Christina Crise, to guide him through the situation. Through discussions with his support team, he concluded that he should resign and search for a new opportunity.

It didn’t take John and Alyssa long to find him a better-suited job. Within two months, he interviewed with and earned a position at DAV. Christina noticed an immediate shift in his demeanor.

“There was such a positive change in John while at work,” she said.

John poses in the DAV thrift store.

John had the skills to succeed. He just needed an advocate to make sure that everything was in place for him. Christina succeeded in making sure that his transition into the position was as smooth as possible. She facilitated conversations between John and management. She made sure he understood what his responsibilities were and worked with him on any issue that arose.

 “I’m glad that Goodwill hooked us up with John, because I’m hoping we have an employee for life here,” said Chris.

“The job gets me up and going,” shared John. “It gives me a purpose.”

On top of his newfound purpose, John has been able to move out of a group home and into his very own apartment. He is thankful for his job and Goodwill of Central Iowa.

“If you don’t have a job, don’t give up,” he advises others who may be experience similar challenges.

When you donate and shop at Goodwill of Central Iowa, you make successes like John’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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