At Goodwill-Easter Seals Minnesota we believe that everyone should experience the power of work. Devoting ourselves to work we are passionate about can make our best qualities shine. In the case of one program participant, Laura, working at GESMN helped her gain leadership skills and inspiration to follow her dreams.
Laura grew up in Jordan, MN. Jordan is a typical rural town in middle America, where everyone knows everyone. Like many small towns, it did not have immediate access to alternative learning opportunities. When Laura was sixteen, her parents made the decision to move to Victoria, where Laura could benefit from increased resources and attend the STAR Program.
The transition was hard, but Laura’s teachers and staff at the STAR Program made it a successful one. It was at the STAR Program that Laura was first connected with GESMN and Karen, one of our transitional employment specialists. Karen assisted Laura in retail skills training at the Chanhassen Goodwill store. “I really loved organizing the shoes,” Laura recalls, “and working in back processing donations. But the store isn’t only about clothes. The beautiful thing about Goodwill is that they save items from going to the landfills.” Laura found her work fulfilling, but she also had to overcome some challenges on the job.
Laura lives with the after effects of a car accident — dizziness, migraines and chronic back pain. Laura says, “I would work for an hour or so on the floor and get dizzy. My manager Veronica was great at accommodating me with breaks when I needed them.” Even though the work was challenging at times, Laura showed considerable strength. Her program coordinator Karen adds, “She showed great leadership skills and was excellent at setting goals for herself.”
Laura is now taking those skills into her future career. She is currently a full-time student and explains, “My goal is to be a special education preschool teacher. I want to impact kids’ lives.”
“I would like to thank Karen, Veronica and everyone at GESMN for their help,” Laura says. “I know I will take all the lessons I have learned from them with me.”