From participant to part-timer

By Staff Blogger LaDonna Seely

When Clarence moved to Minneapolis from Chicago in 2008 seeking a new start, he was a widowed father of five with two bum knees. A construction worker by trade, two total knee replacements rendered Clarence a Social Security Disability Insurance recipient. It wasn’t enough to pay the bills. He found his way to Goodwill-Easter Seals and to our Work Incentives Connection program. Clarence learned he could contribute to his family by working part-time while maintaining some of his SSDi benefits, rent assistance and health coverage.

Clarence: Work Incentives Connection showed him how to get back to work after a disability.
Clarence got help from the Work Incentives Connection and got back to work after a disability.

Through several services at Goodwill-Easter Seals like vocational rehabilitation, job search assistance and community resources, Clarence slowly introduced his legs to the work day again. He earned a job in the Goodwill processing center at our Fairview store. He says he’s grateful to go from “participant to part-timer.”

“Goodwill-Easter Seals gave me a second chance at life,” Clarence said. “Not just for me, but for the thousands of others here. People think they are just dropping of clothes, but those donations serve to meet the needs of people from housing, to clothing to record expungement. I even got a voucher to buy a hot plate when the gas went out, so I could cook at home. It’s all the little things that make Goodwill-Easter Seals really special.”

Goodwill employee Clarence sorts donated items at the Fairview processing center.
Goodwill employee Clarence sorts donated items at the Fairview processing center.

Russell Guski, who supervises Clarence in processing, said, “Clarence is a hard worker who likes to stay busy. He is always eager to do whatever it takes to help the team achieve its goals.”

In his spare time, Clarence enjoys singing, songwriting and ministering at local prisons with his church.

“I liked working with Clarence because he has a great attitude,” said Dale Lamb, Goodwill-Easter Seals Minnesota senior case manager. “He’s a genuine, friendly man. He makes it easy to help him because he helps himself.”