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Matthew's Journey

"Matthew loves having a job. He’s become independent and proactive."

Matthew Success StoryYou may not know him by name, but odds are you’ve already seen his face. Matthew’s smile, charm and positive attitude earned him a spot on many of Goodwill’s billboards around central Pennsylvania. For those who know him, his designation as one of the faces of Goodwill is a position well-deserved.Donate to Goodwill

Matthew was born in Pennsylvania and the youngest of five children. When he was seven years old, he moved with his family to Sarasota, Florida. There, his older sister enrolled him in a children’s program at what is now Community Haven, an educational facility that focuses on teaching life skills to people with disabilities. Matthew thrived in a structured environment that provided him with a stable schedule. He learned to read and write. He also became heavily involved with the Boy Scouts and Special Olympics (something he continues to do to this very day). 

As his parents became older and Matthew was in his 40s, his family moved back to Pennsylvania. Matthew’s sister, Ella, and her husband became his legal guardians and took over his care. Before arriving in Pennsylvania, Ella and her husband did some research to find the best place for Matthew to be happy and productive. They contacted Goodwill and Matthew was quickly accepted into a paid training program. Kathy Erney, his vocational counselor, said, “He has always enjoyed custodial work and is dedicated. He never misses a day unless it’s absolutely necessary and his motivation to succeed has helped him overcome challenging behaviors. He is cooperative with staff and, since he is so detail-oriented, the quality of his work is excellent. He has a positive relationship with his family and feels that earning a paycheck is important to being a contributing member of his household.”


According to his sister, “Matthew loves having a job. He’s become independent and proactive because of Goodwill. He often gets on the bus by himself and looks forward to work and bringing home a paycheck.” Indeed, Matthew arrives right on time to Goodwill each day with a smile and his key card in hand to gain access to the building. He fits right into a culture of acceptance where his preference for maintaining a patterned schedule is well provided. Never has he issued a complaint or protested against doing anything, so long as he knows what to expect ahead of time. By nature, he is easy-going and, while not very talkative, responds cordially to greetings.

While in a paid training program, Matthew completes a variety of custodial tasks at different sites in Harrisburg. His custodial manager Nancy Mills said, “Matt is an efficient and dedicated trainee who is caring and works well with his peers and likes to joke and have fun. He doesn’t like to be late for work and he doesn’t like to leave early, even if he has a doctor’s appointment.”

When not working, Matthew enjoys going out with his family and going to the mall. He will point out people he recognizes and Ella appreciates the moments when someone who knows Matthew makes a point to say hello and talk to him. Ella noted that a nurse, who was visiting their home, saw a picture of Matthew and said she saw him on a billboard. Ella described, “He is, by rights, his own person and it’s nice to see how much he’s grown. He’s always learning.”

Every week, he goes to church with his family and actively participates in mass by helping to serve communion, take collections and serve at the altar. He also volunteers to help keep the church clean. In his spare time, Matthew enjoys swimming, going for walks, riding his bike and playing basketball. He relaxes by watching television. He has traveled with his family to many places. He goes wherever they go and in November, Matthew and his family enjoyed a cruise to the Bahamas.


For more information about Goodwill’s programs and services, contact Sue Soderberg

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