SARASOTA/BRADENTON, FL – Goodwill Manasota was thrilled to learn last December that it was one of 384 nonprofits to receive multi-million-dollar gifts from philanthropist MacKenzie Scott. In the wake of its $10 million windfall, Goodwill is launching new programs as well as expanding existing programs, such as Supported JobsPlus, which targets employment for individuals with severe disabilities.
Goodwill has added 10 more slots for the Supported JobsPlus (SJP) program; four of those jobs have already been filled. This expansion comes in the wake of pandemic-related SJP team member losses, due to medical issues and fears of COVID-19 infection.
Implemented in 2005, the SJP program targets sustainable employment for those with significant disabilities. Of Goodwill’s 700 employees, 65% have self-identified disabilities and/or disadvantaging conditions, while 53 – nearly 8% of its employees – have significant disabilities and participate in the SJP program.
One such employee is Corey Mount, who has been with Goodwill for over six years; he currently works at Goodwill’s Corporate Campus in Bradenton. Born with hydrocephalus, Mount has used a wheelchair his whole life but has never let that stand in the way of activities such as performing in the Riverview High School Band, driving, earning his Computer Programming and Repair Certification, and working.
However, his health has been declining and frequent hospitalizations have made it impossible for him to maintain consistent employment. After going to Vocational Rehabilitation for help and two years of job searching, Goodwill hired him. He did so well as a clothing tagger that his supervisor added separating apparel tags to his responsibilities. He has done so well with his new task that Goodwill made his average production rate its standard for all who separate apparel tags.
“Goodwill does not look at my disability – only my abilities,” Mount says. He notes that, since his mother died in 2016, one of the only things he has to look forward to is coming to work at Goodwill. “It is my family and they look out for me.”
In conjunction with Goodwill's GoodPartner Coach Program, SJP team members participate in a career needs assessment, the development of an individualized case management plan, and then go through training components to reach ultimate desired outcomes. Job performance and educational benchmarks are set, providing clear expectations for career advancement readiness. Ideally, individuals with disabilities or other barriers to self-sufficiency will establish a lifetime link with Goodwill, so that they may take advantage of services available throughout the community.
In 2020, Goodwill served nearly 6,000 people with disabilities across all of its programs: Job Connection, Veterans Services, GoodPartner Coach and Supported JobsPlus.
"Everyone deserves a chance to earn a paycheck and feel the dignity of work," said Bob Rosinsky, president and CEO of Goodwill Manasota. “We look forward to a day when all Americans with disabilities – like Corey – who have a desire to achieve self-sufficiency will be able to find jobs and make important contributions to the workplace and their communities.”
For more about Goodwill, go to experiencegoodwill.org or call 941-355-2721.