Sawyer’s real wake-up call came when he faced a medical emergency, open-heart surgery, for the second time in his life. That’s when the doctors told Sawyer that he had a choice to make: stay on his current course and face an untimely death, or make changes for better health and a brighter future for himself and his family. Sawyer chose the change. As a result of that decision, Goodwill Industries International honors him as its 2022 Kenneth Shaw Graduate of the Year. The award was announced during Goodwill’s annual meeting in Toronto Canada in 12th of July.

Once Sawyer decided to live, the real work began. And it wouldn’t be easy. There were felonies on his record and huge gaps in his work history that stood in the way of getting the jobs available in his community.

Through the Washington Department of Vocational Rehabilitation, Sawyer discovered that Goodwill Industries of the Inland Northwest offers work experience and training for people who have been involved in the criminal justice system. In addition to her criminal history, Sawyer had no work experience and had also suffered a traumatic brain injury. She entered Goodwill’s internal assessment and training program with an interest in gaining skills and long-term employment. During the two-month program, she never missed a shift, met job standards, and fostered relationships with other participants, store staff, and her evaluation team. Her hard work paid off as she was offered a full-time position at Goodwill. Sawyer was employed by Goodwill for three years and received several promotions, starting in production and working his way up to become facilities leader, a role that is part of the store’s leadership team.

“Wes exemplifies the strength and commitment necessary to enhance a life through learning and work. His determination drove him to provide a future for himself and his family and become a contributing member of his community,” he said. Steven C. Preston, President and CEO of Goodwill Industries International. “Through Goodwill, she’s learned valuable skills and gained a strong work history that allows her to grow and lead in other professions as well. That’s our hope for everyone who walks through our doors for job training.”

Sawyer’s determination and willingness to learn have set him on a rewarding path and allow him to set a positive example for others.

clark brekkepresident and CEO of Goodwill Industries of the Inland Northwest, said, “Wes is honest and serious. He’s very introspective. He looks at himself to assess everything and validate himself. That rubs off on the people around him. He he does this in such a wonderful way that he inspires and motivates the people around him to become the best version of themselves. We’ve seen Wes motivate himself to be the best version of himself.”

It was this motivation, and the skills Sawyer learned at Goodwill, that gave him the confidence to apply for a job through a local union. He took a leap in 2020 and became a construction worker apprentice, which led to another job at an even bigger company, WM Winkler. His current employer provides medical benefits and increased income to help support his growing family, including a recently born daughter and his son. The stability of the job has also allowed him to reunite with his oldest daughter, who was adopted when Sawyer was involved with gangs and in and out of prison. He and his wife recently bought his first home, and Sawyer remains a supporter of Goodwill and its programs.

“So many areas of my life are connected to Goodwill and its programs,” Sawyer said. “I am Goodwill and always will be. I love that Goodwill gave me a hand, not a handout; that I learned to work and be independent.”

About the Award: Goodwill Industries International’s Kenneth Shaw Graduate of the Year Award recognizes an outstanding individual with a disability or handicapping condition who has completed a Goodwill professional services program and is competitively employed by a non-Goodwill employer.

Industries International is a network of 155 autonomous community-based organizations in the United States Y Canada with a presence in 12 other countries. A 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that helps people find jobs, Goodwill is recognized with GuideStar’s highest rating, the Platinum Seal of Approval.

Local Goodwill organizations offer employment opportunities, job placement and training services, and other community programs, funded by the sale of donated clothing and home goods at nearly 3,300 stores and online at ShopGoodwill.com®.

For more information or to find a Goodwill location near you, visit goodwill.org. Follow us on Twitter: @GoodwillIntl and @GoodwillCapHill, and find us on Facebook, Instagram and YouTube: GoodwillIntl. Sign up for our Legislative Action Center at www.advocate.goodwill.org.

Media Contact:
amber shelton
[email protected]

SOURCE Goodwill Industries International


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