What's New

Success Story: Joe

Joe was a transition student at Muskegon Area Intermediate School District (MAISD) when he first began training with the Janitorial Occupational Training (JOT) program at Goodwill in 2015. His caseworker at Michigan Rehabilitative Services (MRS), Jean Parks, encouraged him to participate in the program to help him learn employment skills he would need once he graduated high school.

When Joe started the program, he was very quiet and he could be emotional. He had a speech impediment so he was self-conscious about people being able to understand him. “He tended to be very reserved and kept to himself,” Janitorial manager Kathy Harris said of Joe’s early work with Goodwill, “Sometimes he would be afraid to try anything new. But that all changed.”

Joe learned the janitorial arts at Goodwill headquarters, and participated in the first paid summer practicum at Blue Lake Fine Arts Camp. In the two years he spent in this program, Joe began to open up. He started out as a good student and a willing participant. He has an excellent memory, and quickly embraced the techniques for commercial cleaning, especially the details of office cleaning, deep vacuuming, and larger projects like seasonal deep cleans, where there is a variety of tasks to be done.

“Our department dynamic in Janitorial Services is extremely team oriented,” Harris said. “Our approach is to go through our contracts like a hive of bees, where everything from ceiling to floor is completed.”  This approach appealed to Joe, and as the weeks passed, he became more and more self-confident and expressive, sharing his thoughts and information that he was learning and applying it to his daily work.

As he became more comfortable, Joe was able to apply himself in new ways. He has an excellent sense of humor, and was often seen smiling while he worked as he took in the conversations around him. He quickly struck up a great working relationship with Janitorial Supervisor Ron Henry. Ron encouraged him to try new things. Recognizing Joe’s humor, Ron started a healthy “best joke-a-thon” competition in the department.

Joe was very excited about the skills he was learning. He even shared his certificate of completion for the training program with his teachers and classmates at school and then announced that the floors at school needed some serious work!

Six months after completing his training, a position on the Janitorial Services staff at Goodwill became available. Joe applied and got the job! Joe has been on staff with Goodwill Janitorial Services for over a year now. He has recently opted to learn about floor care. Joe learned to run the scrubbers, swing-machine, and the carpet machine and is learning the art of floor finishing. These processes are often elaborate and detailed, but Joe has proven himself to be a reliable and skilled technician. He operates the equipment safely and correctly and produces a quality result.

The more that Joe practices his craft, the more confident and vocal he becomes. “We do not have difficulty understanding him,” Harris said. “In fact he has become quite the social butterfly, often volunteering at various community events and always representing Goodwill as a skilled ambassador who demonstrates Goodwill values and work ethic in the community. Joe is a wonderful addition to our crew, and we are proud of his continued growth and success!”

Return to What's New