WORK HAS THE POWER TO TRANSFORM A PERSON; to provide self-esteem, confidence, pride, and a sense of belonging. That’s what working at Pangea Reptile has done for Jordan.
Jordan was referred to Goodwill’s Employment and Training Center (ETC) in Holland, by Community Mental Health of Ottawa County, to help him develop his job skills. In the past Jordan struggled to secure and maintain community-based employment.
“I struggled a lot with my behavior issues where I was not always the nicest person,” Jordan said.
Enrolled in Goodwill’s Work Readiness program, Jordan received paid skill-building opportunities at Goodwill’s ETC, performing light industrial work outsourced from local businesses. Under the guidance of Goodwill Program Manager Matt Cashbaugh, Jordan was taught a variety of coping skills to shift his mindset, improve his attitude and decision-making abilities, and develop his social and communication skills.
As he progressed and improved, Jordan was ready to advance to community-based employment and was enrolled in Goodwill’s Supported Employment program.
In 2020, Goodwill developed a partnership with Pangea Reptile, a Zeeland-based pet company that needed help assembling reptile cages at their production facility. Matt and his team arranged for three ETC workers to be transported to Pangea to work three days a week, accompanied and supervised by an on-site Goodwill job coach.
“Jordan was immediately excited about this new opportunity,” Matt said. “He mostly works on substrate packaging which involves measuring and weighing out appropriate quantities of materials and sealing them.”
The special community-based work partnership Pangea has forged with Goodwill is a win-win. “Pangea is a really good place for learning a lot of social skills for Jordan,” said Goodwill Job Coach Meg Barry, who works on site with the Goodwill team.
“Jordan is quite a character. He is a lovable guy,” Pangea Operations Manger Ryan Chavez said. “ He comes in with the crew and makes the rounds of saying hello to everybody, you know, ‘How are you doing?’ ‘Good morning,’ which we all kinda look forward to. And then, he gets right to work. I mean, he knows what his task is, and then he's dedicated to it.”
“I like how I get to do a lot of new tasks each time that I am there,” Jordan said. “I really like the Pangea employees and I get the sense that they care about me and the Goodwill crew a lot. We work really hard to make sure we meet their deadlines. I take my time and listen to everything that they say and I have a good attitude and am open to whatever they ask me to do.”
“Since working at Pangea, Jordan has really taken responsibility for himself,” Matt said. “He is the de facto leader of the group and is always willing to take on any task that Pangea asks of him. Pangea will usually seek out Jordan for special projects because of this willingness.”
“I thank Goodwill for helping me to have this job and thank every staff person who worked so hard at making me working at Pangea a possibility,” Jordan said. “I have grown up to be a good worker and realized how to be an independent adult. I like everyone here and this is my chance to shine.”
- Ryan Chavez,
Pangea Operations Manager
Owner Matthew Parks started Pangea Reptile LLC in 2001 with the breeding of geckos and small-scale sale of dry goods. Based in Zeeland, Pangea has grown into one of the largest online sellers of reptile food, products, and quality geckos. Pangea continues to grow and expand its line of products and services to meet its customer needs. Pangea is dedicated to providing the best customer service in the industry as well as the finest animals and products available.