By: Duane Blankenship | Category: In Our Communities | Issue: June 2010
2010 Goodwill award winners and emcee (L to R): Brook Losornio, employee of the year; Bruce Sweet, graduate of the year; emcee Mike Collier of KTUL News Channel 8; Teresa Dickey, achiever of the year; and Lang Khup, Perseverance Award winner.
May 3 marked the 2010 Goodwill Industries of Tulsa Annual Awards Luncheon at the Southern Hills Marriott. David Oliver, president of Goodwill Industries of Tulsa, delivered opening comments and introduced meteorologist Mike Collier from KTUL News Channel 8, the event’s master of ceremonies.
The Achiever of the Year Award was presented to Teresa Dickey. Although out of the workforce for a while, Teresa had the will to work, but wasn’t sure where to begin brushing up her office skills to qualify for a job. With her can-do personality and with the help of Goodwill's TulsaWORKS Program, Teresa obtained the computer skills she needed to make her an excellent candidate for a temp position with Key Personnel. She has since become a full-time employee with Associated Mortgage Corporation, and loves her job so much that she refused to let a recent bout with cancer interfere with her newfound career.
Lang Khup was the winner of the Perseverance Award. Lang was a Burmese refugee who already had marketable job skills when he arrived in Tulsa. By working with him on his resume and interview skills, Goodwill helped Lang parlay his expertise into a position as a sushi chef at In The Raw in Tulsa. Since that time, Lang has referred dozens of fellow refugees to Goodwill’s job training and placement programs, which help them overcome language and cultural barriers in their newly adopted homeland.
After a coma and brain injury from a mugging and a resulting chemical dependency, things were not looking very promising for Bruce Sweet, this year’s Graduate of the Year Award winner. Bruce had previously been employed as a climber on a tree-cutting crew. Determined to get back to work, he sought help from Goodwill’s Supported Employment and TulsaWORKS Program to improve his interview skills. He kicked his chemical dependency, and was able to get a new start at Action Tree Service. Day by day, Bruce’s confidence is bolstered, and he hopes to eventually make his way back into climbing work.
Brook Losornio was recognized as Goodwill’s employee of the year. Brook has an attitude, but it’s one of helpfulness, teamwork and enthusiasm about his job as a Goodwill Donation Center attendant. When asked what he likes best about his work at Goodwill, he enthusiastically answers, “Everything!” Brook previously had a long history of short-lived jobs due to workplace issues. With guidance from his Job Share Program coach, Brook now has a sense of responsibility and gets his rewards from helping donors with their drop-offs. His new job has literally made him a changed man. He gets to work early most days and even sometimes calls on his day off to ask if he can come in and work.
Linda Starks has become a master of cutting through red tape. As a counselor for the Department of Rehabilitation Services, she has frequently called upon this ability to improve the coordination of services for special needs high school students who are making the transition to adulthood and the workforce. Linda collaborates closely with Goodwill instructors, high school staff, parents and students, with a dedication to making sure no student falls through the cracks. Linda was the recipient of the Professional of the Year Award.
Tulsa Technology Center was recognized as the Community Partner Award winner, and St. John Medical Center was presented the Employer of the Year Award.
For more than 80 years, Goodwill Industries of Tulsa has focused on helping people with disabilities or other barriers to employment help themselves. Goodwill provides work opportunities within the organization, and job training and placement into jobs in the community. Goodwill employed in 2009 more than 600 people, and they helped 337 individuals find employment. In turn, these individuals earned $2.3 million.
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.