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Goodwill Manasota's partnership with Easterseals provides hope and opportunity

Carl’s parents were told that he would never walk or talk. While many would consider Carl’s prognosis a significant obstacle to enjoying a fulfilling life, his parents didn’t see it that way – and neither did Carl, who surpassed the doctors’ expectations and is, indeed, able to both walk and talk.

His mom says that “he is adamant about what he wants out of life.” And work was ALWAYS something that Carl wanted out of life.

Carl first came to Goodwill five years ago with classmates from Easterseals to participate in a work experience program. The purpose of the program is to give students who have what others might consider barriers to employment the opportunity to learn about work. He started out tearing size tickets but he wanted to do more. He talked with his teachers and they taught him how to “recover” the store. Recovery includes tasks such as picking up items from the floor and putting them where they belong, straightening wares shelves so they look neat, and making sure both shoes in a pair are together.

Over the course of the program, Carl eventually learned how to organize hangers; he also served as a greeter. Each time Carl returned to Goodwill, he learned more skills. Little did Carl know back then how long he would stay connected to Goodwill!

When Carl graduated from Easterseals he had to decide if he was going to seek additional schooling or get a job. He decided that he had been sitting in a classroom long enough – he wanted to work. He had enjoyed working at Goodwill as a student so he applied for a job through the Supported JobsPlus program. Because the team at Goodwill already knew he was a good worker, he got the job!

Carl expressed in his interview that he would like to learn how to work at the fitting rooms and that is what he was hired to do. His supervisor says that he is a hard worker, and that he anticipates what needs to be done and then does it.

Carl says what he likes best about working at Goodwill is the people. He likes getting to know the customers and what they might be looking for so he can point them in the direction they need to go to find it. He also likes the people he works with, noting that they are like family. They check in on him to make sure he’s doing okay.

Co-workers describe Carl as reliable, a rules guy who follows them very well. This description likely has something to do with why he is so successful at his job. No one is getting into one of those fitting rooms with more than six items when Carl is on duty!

Working at Goodwill is not all Carl does. He loves to volunteer at Rise & Nye’s, an amazing coffee and ice cream shop located in downtown Sarasota that is run by people with intellectual and developmental disabilities; this is a commitment that began when Carl was in school at Easterseals. He plays Miracle League Baseball, soccer and has enjoyed karate since he was a young child. He also helps with the kids’ ministry at his church as a teaching assistant. One of his favorite experiences was when he volunteered at Mote Marine during Sensory Saturdays, where he got to tell people all kinds of fun facts about sharks. He says he would love to do more of that!

Carl is glad that Goodwill provided an opportunity for him to learn and work, along with his classmates and many other high schoolers with disabilities in Manatee, Sarasota and DeSoto counties.

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