Chart­ing job suc­cess for all: Good­will pro­vides the path

The Oklahoman - - NEWS - BY MICHAELA MARX WHEAT­LEY Brand In­sight Ed­i­tor

Josh Boles makes sure the hun­dreds of HR re­ports and count­less spread­sheets that keep Good­will In­dus­tries of Cen­tral Ok­la­homa run­ning are in top shape. He solves prob­lems, he im­proves sys­tems, and some co-work­ers would go as far as say­ing that if there were no Josh, things wouldn’t run as smoothly as they do.

“I know the re­ports I run and files I main­tain keep the mis­sion go­ing,” Boles said.

But Boles isn’t a busi­ness school grad­u­ate. He was trained through Good­will’s DRS Mile­stones Job Club pro­gram. The in­for­ma­tion sys­tem co­or­di­na­tor works in the Hu­man Re­sources Of­fice at Good­will’s cor­po­rate of­fices in Ok­la­homa City. He started in 2004 through a train­ing pro­gram and was even­tu­ally hired as a hu­man re­sources clerk and pro­moted to HR as­sis­tant in 2007.

His boss rec­og­nized his ap­ti­tude for re­ports and spread­sheets.

“I do like putting a spread­sheet to­gether and do­ing re­ports,” Boles said. “I prob­a­bly knew a lit­tle at the be­gin­ning, but the head of HR dis­cov­ered I had tal­ent in that di­rec­tion, and it all went from there.”

To­day, he is an in­valu­able part of the HR team at Good­will. In fact, there isn’t one em­ployee at Good­will who has not worked with Boles.

Part of a big­ger mis­sion

While most peo­ple think of re­tail stores when they think of Good­will, for the past 81 years, Good­will In­dus­tries of Cen­tral Ok­la­homa has em­ployed peo­ple with crim­i­nal back­grounds, peo­ple with dis­abil­i­ties, se­niors, vet­er­ans and mil­i­tary fam­i­lies, youth, peo­ple re-en­ter­ing the work­force, peo­ple chang­ing ca­reers and any other per­son who might be un­em­ployed. In many cases, the agency gave those in need the start they needed — chang­ing lives in the process.

Good­will em­ploys more than 1,000 peo­ple in cen­tral Ok­la­homa.

Hear­ing suc­cess sto­ries such as Boles’ is one of the rea­sons Stella Squire loves her job.

She is a job coach at Good­will’s Com­mu­nity Work­force Work Crew pro­gram, an em­ploy­ment pro­gram sup­ported by De­vel­op­men­tal Dis­abil­i­ties Ser­vices. Squire joined Good­will in 2011, start­ing out as a re­tail sales as­so­ciate. She has been a job coach for the past five years.

Squire re­called one of her early trainees who strug­gled at first but found her path.

“One of my par­tic­i­pants is now a job coach. I think of her as my big­gest ac­com­plish­ment,” Squire said. “She works along­side me; she can cover me.”

“It’s a bless­ing to be a job coach,” Squire added, tear­ing up as she spoke about her grad­u­ates. “When they fi­nally have the break­through, I am high on life. It’s like see­ing your own kids suc­ceed.”

In this par­tic­u­lar vo­ca­tional train­ing pro­gram, in­di­vid­u­als di­ag­nosed with an in­tel­lec­tual dis­abil­ity learn to work in an in­clu­sive work en­vi­ron­ment. The pro­gram is de­signed to train the ba­sic re­spon­si­bil­i­ties and ap­pro­pri­ate work habits that must be de­vel­oped to even­tu­ally gain com­mu­nity-in­te­grated em­ploy­ment.

“Suc­cess is when my par­tic­i­pants grad­u­ate the pro­gram,” Squire said.

As par­tic­i­pants go through the three phases of the pro­gram, some­times it takes a lot of en­cour­age­ment and pa­tience.

“I see them grow as a per­son,” she said.

In the process, Good­will pro­vides an in­tense level of sup­port, in­clud­ing de­vel­op­ment of an in­di­vid­u­al­ized ser­vice plan, job place­ment, train­ing, co­or­di­na­tion with re­fer­ral sources, fun­ders and care­givers, case man­age­ment, coun­sel­ing and on­go­ing fol­low-along ser­vices with the fo­cus on job place­ment and re­ten­tion.

How­ever, it is the hu­man in­ter­ac­tion that makes all the dif­fer­ence.

“I push them to have the con­fi­dence to spread their wings and fly,” Squire said.

Grad­u­ates of the pro­gram are skilled work­ers who are ready to be em­ployed.

“Our em­ploy­ees with dis­abil­i­ties are able to do all the jobs. They are skilled,” she said.

And Squire is proud of her role within the Good­will mis­sion.

Roadmap for long-term suc­cess

Good­will is not about get­ting some­body a job, but about giv­ing peo­ple a chance to suc­ceed longterm. You don’t have to go far to bump into liv­ing proof of this con­cept.

Randy Pa­trom, an area man­ager in Do­nated Goods/Re­tail, over­sees eight Good­will re­tail stores and 160 em­ploy­ees.

“You al­ways think about the steps that changed your life. Work­ing at Good­will changed mine,” he said.

Pa­trom started in 2010 at Good­will In­dus­tries of Arkansas.

He was ini­tially hired as a do­na­tion cen­ter at­ten­dant, then pro­moted to shift lead and then to as­sis­tant store man­ager. When he moved to Ok­la­homa, he ap­plied to be a store man­ager and was pro­moted to area man­ager a year and a half ago.

De­spite many years of ex­pe­ri­ence work­ing in his fam­ily’s busi­ness, Pa­trom lacked for­mal ed­u­ca­tion to change or ad­vance his ca­reer. So he ap­plied to Good­will. One of the first things he tack­led once he was hired was earn­ing his GED.

“The ed­u­ca­tion part of Good­will, with­out it, I would not be where I am to­day,” Pa­trom said.

To­day he gets to help oth­ers achieve their goals.

“We hire peo­ple that need a sec­ond job, peo­ple with dis­abil­i­ties and peo­ple that need a sec­ond chance,” Pa­trom said. “It doesn’t mat­ter what your story is. When we are hir­ing we talk about where you need to be, where do you want to go, for a bet­ter life­style for you.”

Pa­trom said the most re­ward­ing part of his job is pro­mot­ing from within and see­ing those em­ploy­ees make their way.

“Suc­cess is build­ing a good team and watch­ing them pro­mote up,” he said.

For more in­for­ma­tion, visit www.ok­good­will.org or call 405-236-4451.

This ar­ti­cle is spon­sored by Good­will of Cen­tral Ok­la­homa.

[PHOTO PRO­VIDED]

Josh Boles is the HR Sys­tems co­or­di­na­tor at Good­will of Cen­tral Ok­la­homa.

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