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EMPOWERING PARTICIPANTS: SPOTLIGHT ON LIZZY

  • Sarah Wilson |
  • | Mission

For the past year, Goodwill Job Coach Supervisor Lizzy P. has spent her days empowering participants in our Supported Employment Program. This program is designed to assist those with barriers to employment in keeping and thriving in their job once they have acquired one through the help of our Career Specialists. Job Coaches work with participants through check-in phone calls and on-the-job shadowing to assist them in managing conversations with teammates, understanding their duties, and improving soft skills. Participants in the supported employment program require different levels of job supervision, but all have the goal of eventually graduating from needing a job coach. In fact, when someone no longer needs a job coach, Lizzy is thrilled. She shared, “It’s very rewarding when a participant realizes they don’t need your help anymore and are comfortable and successful being alone in their new environment.

To reflect on her past year working within mission services programming at Goodwill of Central Iowa, we sat down with Lizzy to ask her a few questions.


What is your favorite part about your job?

“My favorite part about being a job coach is seeing all of the progress that our participants make with my help and the help of their employers.”

What does job coaching look like?

“I think the most important part of helping people at their jobs is first learning the tasks that they are doing and observing how they are currently performing them. I think another part of being a job coach that not everyone realizes is the communication that is necessary with their employers. Employers have ways that they want things done and standards that employees need to meet. It’s my job to come up with creative ways to help our participants meet those standards, especially when it challenges the employee. It’s easy when they first start because I help learn the job with them, but if we come in after they’ve started a job, it can be more difficult to break any bad habits that were formed.”

Are there any participants that stand out as you look back on your year with Goodwill?

“One of my favorite success stories is with Keith who is a dishwasher at Panera. He has been in and out of Goodwill services for about 10 years. Keith had struggled with learning procedures and routines. To help him be successful at Panera, I came up with a system where when he runs one tray of dishes into another, he knows it’s time to wash his hands and put the clean ones away. With a physical reminder like this, he has been doing this successfully without my help for a few months now. He does so well and is awesome at his job. Keith was actually the employee of the month four months after he started with Panera! He received a gift card and was so excited to have been recognized for his hard work.”

How has your job been impacted by the pandemic?

“A lot of the work I have been doing during the pandemic is simply checking in with participants to see if their work has brought them back yet. I’ve been checking with parents and guardians to see if they are working or comfortable working. A lot of the people we work with have health issues that would cause them to not be able to return yet. I also check in with their general level of comfort of returning to work during this time – do they feel comfortable asking for more hours or not having a job coach right away in person.”

What are the most common reasons someone seeks out a job coach?

“Time management is a main motivation for our participants to seek out a job coach. Having people get into a routine is very important at work – even for people without barriers – we as humans look for a schedule and a common way to do things. I also think that soft skills and communication at work are common reasons that job coaches are necessary for select individuals. Whether that be with a co-worker or a manager. A lot of people aren’t comfortable bringing up conversations with their managers at first. Additionally, they are learning how to balance their new life that includes work compared to not working before this period.”

What do you wish others knew about people with barriers to employment?

“I wish people knew that people with barriers are just as capable to do a job as people without barriers. I was teasing someone about not using the creative side of their brain, but in reality, that person can still do the job – it may just need to be done differently than it’s typically taught.  I don’t think a lot of businesses are A) willing to do that or B) have seen it enough to be open to it. I wish they would know that people with barriers have all of these different supports, and skills, and strengths. They just need a chance to be seen.”

We are so glad to have Lizzy on our mission services team at Goodwill of Central Iowa and congratulate her on one year of service! 

When you donate or shopwith Goodwill of Central Iowa, you help to fund our mission of breaking down barriers to employment for those within our community. Your donations and purchases help fund job coaching and make a difference in the lives of Central Iowans.

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