Charting job success for all: Goodwill provides the path
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.
Josh Boles is the HR Systems coordinator at Goodwill of Central Oklahoma.