Jack-Bear Country USA

What I like about my job at Bear Country USA is the animals are very entertaining to watch. This job gives me the chance to hug a bear eventually. I will have more opportunities to interact with the animals when taking care of them during the winter.

Jack on the job at Bear Country USA
The bears Jack monitors at Bear Country USA
The tower Jack monitors the bears

Shane’s Kindhearted Spirit for Helping Others Shines at Goodwill

This picture demonstrates the change that happened for Shane from the beginning of the Work Adjustment Program until the end.

Sometimes in our life, there are moments causing us to pause and reflect on what’s next. Shane was struggling to figure out what work he was interested in when he came to Goodwill’s Work Adjustment Training Program. (The Work Adjustment Program is a 6-week program for individuals over 18 years of age teaching soft skill development and employment readiness. The program serves individuals with brain injury, physical injury, cognitive disabilities, and health challenges.)

Shane was mentored by Jill (Program Manager) who helped him throughout the program with his confidence. Self-confidence is an essential skill needed for any job. The Work Adjustment Program helps individuals learn skills such as self-confidence, communication, and being a team player through on-the-job experience.

During his training, he was able to help with the Shoe and Mitten Party, an event sponsored by Goodwill that ensures each child received new shoes, hat, gloves, and socks. This event touched Shane’s heart and fueled his desire to help improve the lives of others.

A boost of confidence happened for Shane in January when he had the opportunity to work in the Job Center.  Shane genuinely enjoyed helping people update resumes and apply to jobs. Jill explained, “Shane loved having the opportunity to help others as they were seeking employment in the Job Center. He approached it with a compassionate spirit. His confidence level definitely improved after his experience in the Job Center because he improved upon his clerical and customer service skills.”

The last week of Shane’s training, Stan, Rapid City Manager offered Shane a position in the store. Shane was excited to accept the offer and is currently working as a Retail Associate.

Reflecting on his experience Shane replies, “The Work Adjustment Training Program helped me gain confidence and assurance in myself. It gave me a purpose. I want to continue helping customers and program participants. I am looking forward to settling down, finding a home and enjoying my life”

Deb’s Milestone Achievement

Congratulations to Debra graduating from register training!  Debra was anxious about operating a cash register at first. Christine, Skills Trainer, helped Debra learn coping skills to ease her anxiety. After a few weeks, Debra became more comfortable and learned excellent customer service skills. “She has come out of her shell and built important relationships”, Christine commented about Debra’s progress. Debra works in the Sioux City retail store and continues working hard on her goal of obtaining a community job.

Rapid City Team Giving Participants A Second Chance

Back Row:  Michael (2018), Renzel (2014), Stan (Store Manager), Alyssa (2018), Frank (2019), Chris (2017), Kim D (2019)

Front Row: Samantha (Assistant Manager), Pam (2017), Connie (2020), Kim P (Operations Supervisor), Michelle (2017)

Picture on the Right: Wally (2019)

(Year represents year graduated from Work Adjustment Program)

No one can prepare for life’s rough road. We all stumble at some point and need a helping hand.  Everyone deserves a second chance. At Goodwill, we believe in giving a hand up for individuals who might need help getting back on their feet.  Rapid City store exemplifies what we stand for and what our mission is. The Work Adjustment program helps individuals who have brain injury, physical injury, cognitive or mental health challenges gain soft skill development to become ready for employment.

Stan, Store Manager, has hired 10 Work Adjustment Program graduates who are currently working in the retail store today. Stan explains, “People are loyal and appreciative of the opportunities given. Samantha (Assistant Manager) and Kim (Operations Supervisor) are all strong supporters of Goodwill’s mission and provide consistent positive mentoring to each one of the participants who come through the program.  They work as a team right along with our Mission Services team to ensure the success of each participant who comes through the program.”

Participants thoroughly enjoy the Work Adjustment Program and believe they have gained confidence, created relationships, and learned new skills. They enjoy having a purpose and a reason to work.

When you believe in someone and what they are capable of, the sky is the limit! All you need to give someone is a chance.

Denise’s Confidence Renewed Through Goodwill Job Training Program

We all deserve to be respected and treated as a human. This is a basic human right. Denise had a humiliating experience at a former employer. The management yelled at Denise in front of customers and forced her to work on days she wasn’t scheduled. Denise didn’t feel comfortable speaking up and felt her confidence drastically declining. Sadly, this all led to Denise’s mental breakdown.

Denise needed help. She knew she couldn’t be alone in her journey of gaining back her confidence. She was referred to Goodwill’s Pre-Vocational Job Training Program to gain soft skills to become more comfortable working a job in the community.

“At first, Denise was nervous,” Christine, Skills Trainer, observed. She was assigned to scanning books in E-Commerce. After a few weeks, Denise started making strong connections to fellow participants. They were able to relate to past experiences and common interests. Denise knew she found her support system.

A few weeks ago, Denise was asked if she would like to work at the reception desk, answering the phone and greeting visitors. Denise agreed. She was excited, but anxious about starting something new. Denise knew she needed to find a way to cope with her anxiety and nerves. That day, Denise wore a necklace that had her brother’s ashes. “My brother was the bravest person I knew. He battled sickness with strength until he passed away.  If he can be brave, I can be brave too”, proudly stated Denise. At the end of the day, Denise had the biggest smile on her face and knew her brother was with her.

One of Denise’s goals is to pursue her passion for photography. Denise loves photography. The feeling she receives when she crafts the perfect photo is indescribable to her.  Denise operated her photography studio for 20 years and attended the New York Institute of Photography online. She is dedicated to her passion and wants to continue pursuing photography in the future. “When I complete the program, I want to apply for an e-commerce position. I will be able to pursue my passion and work with people I have strong relationships with”, she exclaimed.  

Denise appreciates the support she has received throughout the Pre-Vocational Job Training Program. “Goodwill has helped me in many ways. I have gained my confidence back and have learned how to communicate and speak up for myself,” explained Denise about the significant impact Goodwill has had on her life.