Success Driven By Support

  • Michael Fox |
  • | Mission

When Juan came to Goodwill of Central Iowa in January 2019, he knew he was interested in pursuing custodial work, but had struggled with pieces of application process. In his first meeting with Marsha Kreho and Alyssa Arends, two of the supported employment staff in Goodwill’s newly expanded Story, Marshall and Tama counties, he made an immediate impression.

“Juan had integrity and seemed dependable,” said Marsha, “He came in with a specific job in mind and we cut to the chase. He was ready to go.”

“He had done some of the footwork on his own, but needed help to complete the application so that he could have an interview,” recalled Alyssa.

Even though Juan was a great candidate and had a lot of work experience, applying to jobs was an endeavor for him. Juan struggles to read English, so one of the biggest barriers for him was just completing an application.

“It’s hard,” said Juan, “People be laughing about it, but I have two kids and they help me learn little by little.”

Marsha and Alyssa would meet Juan at the Marshalltown public library to build his resume, search for jobs with him, teach him how to interview properly and send out applications. Juan was dedicated to finding employment. He’s a single father who is driven to provide for his children. His hard work paid off only two months later when he was hired as a custodian for the Marshalltown school district.

On his first night of the job, Marsha was there with him as a job coach to help ease him into the position.

“They gave him a list of tasks, I told him what it said and he was off,” said Marsha, “It was like he had been there for years. He seemed really comfortable and was in such a good mood. I even caught him singing a few times. He was really happy to be there.”

Juan’s job coaches, including Jennifer Clemann who joined on later, made sure that he had everything he needed to get started and they set up a support system for him. Through direct communication with his supervisors, the job coaches were able to establish the supports Juan would need in order to be successful in his new career.

A little while into Juan’s employment, his supervisor, Travis James, pulled his job coach into his office saying that they needed to talk about Juan. His job coach was worried that something was wrong. They went into his office, he pulled up his computer monitor and showed several email from different teachers praising the work Juan was doing.

“I wanted to send a quick e-mail and let you know how impressed I have been with Juan who has been here the last couple of days. What a hard worker and someone on top of every aspect of this building. I think many people here at the school feel the same way and I wanted you to know about it.”

“I don’t know the name of the substitute custodian we have had for Brian this week, but I wanted to let you know he is doing an amazing job.  He is cleaning things that never get cleaned for me, such as the door windows, the table outside my room, and my tabletops and desk tops in my classroom.  He is so professional and well-mannered, too.”

Teachers taking the time out of their day to send an email showed the impact of Juan’s hard and how well he was adapting to his new role. Travis can’t sing enough of Juan’s praises.

“He’s smart enough and a good enough custodian that he can spot a task and start on it without being asked,” said Travis, “I’ve been so pleased with him. I need five or six more Juans on my staff.”

This job means to world to Juan and it allows him to save up for the big moments in life, like his daughter’s upcoming Quinceañera. He’s appreciative of everything he’s received from the Goodwill staff.

“Goodwill is good people and they help a lot of people,” said Juan, “Without them, I would still be looking for work.”

“When people come to us for help, we won’t just find them a job,” said Marsha, “We’re going to find you a job that you’re going to love and you’re going to find a purpose and a passion in life.”

When you donate and shop at Goodwill of Central Iowa, you make successes like Juan’s possible. In fact, 83 cents of every dollar earned in our retail stores and through Shopgoodwill.com goes to support 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

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