"Donate stuff, create jobs" was the cheerleaders' chant of the night April 24 as Discover Goodwill celebrated its annual awards dinner with 800 guests, sponsors and supporters.
Leading the cheers were Discover Goodwill President/CEO Karla Grazier and board chair Chris Odell, who shared the stage with a large cube containing 275 neatly folded items donated to the agency. Those 275 items of "stuff" equaled four jobs created. Grazier reported Discover Goodwill put 4,740 people to work in 2011, 5,796 in 2012 and 6,257 in 2013.
Grazier was blunt: Donations to Goodwill bring jobs to the local community. However, the non-Goodwill donation bins in strip malls and in grocery store parking lots don't. Many of those donations, she said, are shipped to for-profit companies elsewhere.
One Discover Goodwill worker, John Lydell, who has had physical and mental challenges from birth, was named Community Employee of the Year. For 11 years, he has handled custodial duties at the Air Force Academy and, he says, he loves his work. When cadets salute him, he salutes right back. His simple solution to time management is three large watches, each showing something important to do during the work day.
Honored as the first emerging community leader was Tommy Newsom, who is studying at the University of New Mexico. After the Waldo Canyon fire, he organized a donation drive that was so successful he organized a second one because of the Black Forest fire. The drive brought in donations worth $20,000, which filled a semitrailer and three school buses. "Thank you for believing in our community," he told guests. "Our community is always willing to come together."
Sheryl Smith was honored for moving from depressed, unemployed single mother with health problems to a newly promoted Residential Services case manager with Discover Goodwill. And she has lost 70 pounds.
Rochelle Ortega, honored with the Goodwill Independence Award, left an abusive marriage, went into Goodwill's career development program, earned her degree and is now an elementary school teacher. She's the mother of three.
Achiever of the Year Jamie Lockyer has a cognitive disability and is in the Possibilities program. Now she is employed, competes in Special Olympics, dances, sings karaoke and loves to eat out with family and friends.
Alan Steiner was saluted by the Discover Goodwill Foundation with its Guiding Light Award. He had served on the board since 2007 and spearheaded a capital campaign that brought in $10 million for the nonprofit's newest programs.
Receiving the Discover Goodwill Award was The Home Depot, called "philanthropically incredible" by emcee Jon Karroll, who was thanked for serving as emcee of the annual awards for 11 years. Other top awards went to Academy District 20, CHEFS Catalog, Downtown Partnership, El Paso County Department of Human Services and Xerox.