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Success Story: Lavon

Lavon had difficulty controlling her strong emotions. She was easily overwhelmed by frustration and severe anxiety. This made social interaction of any kind, debilitating for Lavon. Before coming to Goodwill, she led a life of self-isolation. She says she spent her days “listening to music with my headphones, not talking to anybody.” The slightest social interaction would set her off. “I would get mad and sit on the floor hitting my arm,” she said of her lack of coping skills. Despite her multiple disabilities, Lavon longed for an independent life. She knew that getting a job was the way to get there.

HealthWest referred Lavon to Goodwill’s Work Readiness Program in November of 2015. At that time, following complex instructions was nearly impossible for her. She was distraught by the social nature of the work center, spending more time in her caseworker’s office than in the center. “She would come into my office, curl up in a ball and cry,” her case manager reports. “She would hit herself on her arm and forehead and she would not participate out in the work center.” Regardless, Lavon and Goodwill staff persisted toward her goal of independence.

Through Goodwill’s Work Readiness Program, Lavon received emotional support and job skills training. Goodwill staff helped Lavon feel safe and accepted, and she slowly developed self-worth and self-understanding. Lavon has been able to grow from her self-injurious behaviors to being able to communicate her needs and control her emotions. She established and achieved not only following instructions, but also adding quality to her work and to her interpersonal communication. She gained much independence by learning how to make her own decisions, how to remain on task, and how to work with others.

“Through positive coping, she learned to be patient and how to share her work space with others. This developed into a behavioral shift and she was able to laugh,” a caseworker said of her progress. “She learned how to cope with her fast-paced work environment.”

Lavon no longer hurts herself. She is able to participate fully in the work program and is meeting her work goals. Lavon even recently volunteered for Goodwill’s donation event at Younkers department store, where she worked with the general public collecting donations.

Goodwill staff are so encouraged by Lavon’s progress that they have recommended her for the Customer Service Program. Beginning April 17 Lavon -- the person who used to isolate herself from the rest of the world -- will receive hands-on training in a Goodwill store where she will be working with, and helping, customers.

Lavon no longer hides behind headphones. She says her favorite thing about coming to Goodwill is “learning new things and making new friends to talk to.” She recommends anyone needing help go to the people at Goodwill.

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