By: Duane Blankenship | Category: Other | Issue: June 2011
The Goodwill Awards Luncheon winners included (L to R): Target representative Brandon Corbin, Azande Campbell, Mistress of Ceremonies Deana Silk, Carol Gibson, Jeremy Gillespie, Danita Bennett, John Mahar and Lori Morton.
Goodwill Industries of Tulsa hosted its annual Awards Luncheon on May 3. The ceremony recognizes outstanding performances of employees, persons benefitting from Goodwill sponsored programs, and businesses that offer resources and information that assist individuals in skills training.
Goodwill Industries of Tulsa Chairman of the Board Ronny Altman welcomed all attendees, and President David Oliver introduced this year’s Mistress of Ceremonies, Ms. Deana Silk, co-anchor of the 2-News Weekend Morning Show. Award presentations were made by Cindy Donathan, Sabrina Ware and David Oliver. Mr. Altman presented Mr. Oliver with a special recognition award for 20 years of outstanding service to Goodwill.
Target representatives were on hand to receive the award for Employer of the Year.Target has been exemplary in hiring individuals with disabilities and in providing the accommodation and support they need to succeed in the workplace.
Graduate of the Year honors went to Danita Bennett. Danita was referred to Goodwill for Transitional Work Adjustment Training. She worked in a Goodwill store gaining on-the-job experience and confidence through interactions with customers. She continued receiving assistance from her Goodwill job coach as a courtesy clerk at Food Pyramid. Danita is now on her own and earning a living.
Lori Morton of Community Voice Mail received the award for Community Partner. Lori was instrumental in establishing Community Voice Mail, a free messaging service for homeless and low-income individuals. She has also assisted many Goodwill program participants in their job searches.
Professional of the Year recognition went to John Mahar. Having served the Oklahoma Employment Security Commission for 30 years, Mr. Mahar knows Tulsa’s human resources professionals and job outlook. He offers resources and information to Goodwill to help them place individuals and plan skills training.
Achiever of the Year Carol Gibson was trapped in the nightmare of domestic violence. With her own courage and the support of others, she did a total turnaround. She completed training courses at Goodwill’s Job Training Center, found a new job, and got a fresh start in life. She is now working toward certification as a medical administrative assistant. With eternal gratitude to Goodwill, “I feel like I’m getting my life back,” said Carol.
Azande Campbell is an icon for Perseverance, the award for which he received recognition. At the age of four, Azande was hit by a truck and was not expected to live. Both he and his mother never gave up; Azande recovered and grew up to lead a productive life. After working for Goodwill for 10 years, old injuries put him on disability for a short time, but again he bounced back and has been employed since 2006 cleaning Goodwill stores. Azande has completed more than 700 volunteer hours, and he and his family have moved into a refurbished Habitat home. “I plan to work for a long time – this time until I retire,” says Azande.
Jeremy Gillespie received Employee of the Year honors. After a life of crime that ended in 2001 with a high-speed police chase and car crash, Jeremy received brain injuries resulting in amnesia and was unable to do anything for himself. “That’s what it took to turn my life around,” he says. During rehabilitation, Jeremy learned about Goodwill’s programs for individuals with disabilities. He was hired to work in Goodwill’s janitorial program in 2004. With his steady employment, Jeremy and his mother were able to purchase and remodel a house.
Goodwill continues to respond to the employment needs of persons with a wide range of skills and capabilities by offering a variety of programs preparing them for the world of work. To find out more about Goodwill and all the good will they spread to others, please contact them or visit their website, www.goodwilltulsa.org
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.