By: Duane Blankenship | Category: In Our Communities | Issue: June 2016
2015 Award Winners are (left to right): Security Bank, Community Partner of the Year. Representing the bank was President/CEO Dawne Stafford; Graduate of the Year Trenton Swafford; Achiever of the Year Jeremiah Ruddle; and Employee of the Year Jimmy Rainwater.
Over 700 employees and friends of Goodwill Industries of Tulsa celebrated a year of smiles and accomplishments at the Annual Awards Luncheon May 10th at Southern Hills Marriott Hotel. News Anchor for KTUL, Kristin Dickerson, served as the master of ceremonies for the awards presentation.
Goodwill provides work opportunities, job training and support services for people with disabilities or other employment barriers. They envision a community where all people have the training and opportunities needed to be successful in the workplace.
Goodwill President David Oliver and Chairman Page Bachman highlighted accomplishments and changes made in 2015 to position the organization for future growth. Details are available in the Goodwill Industries of Tulsa Annual Report.
The Achiever of the Year award honored Jeremiah Ruddle. Once dependent on his family, Jeremiah had the drive to succeed but lacked confidence and skills. He came to the company in 2015 and enrolled in TulsaWORKS career readiness training to gain basic interviewing skills. He then completed the employment essentials class and learned how to market himself. Upon completing TulsaWORKS private security training, Jeremiah found employment as a security guard at St. Simeon’s and loves his job. Through the Goodwill’s Savings Match program, Jeremiah has his own car and is saving to purchase a home.
Trenton Swafford, Graduate of the Year award recipient, was diagnosed with a benign bone tumor in his femur and was told he would never walk again. He proved them wrong. Limited mobility made it difficult to get to school on time, so Trenton dropped out in the 11th grade. He was also diagnosed with Asperger’s syndrome which added new challenges. Trenton told an Oklahoma Department of Rehabilitation Services counselor that he wanted to earn his GED and get a job. He was directed Goodwill’s Transition Services Program for Individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder as well as their GED program. Trenton learned valuable social skills, gained confidence and tackled his fears of being around people. He helped fellow students succeed and became a role model himself. Trenton earned his GED, graduated with honors in math and history and spoke at the graduation ceremony. While Trenton was waiting in the lobby for a job interview with Red Lobster, he noticed a customer who needed assistance and sprang into action. The manager saw what happened and the first two words in the interview were, “You’re hired.”
Jimmy Rainwater was recognized as Employee of the Year. Due to gross neglect, malnourishment and failure to thrive, Jimmy was removed from his biological family and placed into foster care when he was a toddler. He was featured on KTUL-TV’s weekly segment, “A Waiting Child”. The night it aired, Clara Sue Rainwater and her husband recognized Jimmy who had attended a class with one of their three daughters. After a short discussion, the Rainwaters decided they would like to add a son to the family and Jimmy was adopted. He grew into an energetic, enthusiastic young man and has been a Goodwill employee for 15 years. In his second year he was craving a more challenging job and transitioned to Goodwill’s Group Worksites program at Hillcrest Hospital where he is a cardboard baler. He loves his work, co-workers and the Hillcrest staff and they love his upbeat, friendly and outgoing personality.
Security Bank was honored as Community Partner for 2015. Bank President and CEO Dawne Stafford received the award on the company’s behalf. Thanks to Security Bank, Goodwill and all of Tulsa, individuals have been able to overcome considerable employment barriers to employment through faithful support.
Blankenship graduated from the University of Oklahoma and has enjoyed a lifetime career in advertising. He started his own advertising business in 1993 and enjoys creating graphic art and writing. Hobbies include hunting, fishing and pencil drawings. Duane and his wife, Janice, have been married over 50 years and are active in their church and community. He has been a contributing writer for Value News/Values Magazine since 2005.
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