A community where the talents and value of all people are celebrated.

To support persons with disabilities and other barriers to independence in achieving their fullest potential as workers and as members of the broader community.

Goodwill helps persons with disabilities as well as people who are at an economic disadvantage, or may lack education or work experience.

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.”

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Lavena - Taking Charge of Her Life

Lavena Shifflett, shinning example of the Goodwill mission.

Lavena Shifflett is a shining example of the Goodwill mission.

Lavena took charge of her life. She participated in a Goodwill assessment program so she could gain a better understanding of her abilities, goals, and interests.

Lavena noted, "I needed help with direction." At the same time, she completed her GED. She said, "Somebody gave me a chance and I kept going. People at Goodwill gave me guidance."

After her assessment, she began in a Goodwill paid training program. She immediately showed people that she was a hard worker and overall, she wanted to do a good job.

Because of Lavena's accomplishments and work ethic, she graduated from the training program and was hired as a Goodwill employee. She works for a Goodwill Custodial Crew at the PA Veterinary Laboratory Building and Pennsylvania Department of Transportation.

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Kris - Overcoming Obstacles

Kris Overcoming ObstaclesKris joined the Clubhouse of Lehigh County to get the support she needed. Kris always dreamt of going to college. Marriage and family came first, but that dream of going back to school was always on her mind.

15 years ago she set out to get a college degree. Then an obstacle to her success intervened: the challenge of mental illness. Kris had to postpone her dream as she focused on becoming well again. She went to outpatient and inpatient facilities to seek help. As part of her treatment, Kris joined Clubhouse of Lehigh County in 2005 to get the support she needed.

Like Kris, all Clubhouse members face the challenges of recovering from mental illness. The mission of the Clubhouse of Lehigh County, a program of Goodwill Keystone Area, is to offer persons with mental illness a safe and healing environment where each person is given the opportunity to explore their personal and vocational potential to its fullest, and to receive support in achieving their goals.

Kris began going to the Clubhouse a few days a week. As a Clubhouse member, she started in the services unit by cutting out coupons. As her recovery grew stronger, she worked with a group to produce the Clubhouse newsletter, took computer classes and participated in bowling, fishing and museum trips. On these trips, besides her new Clubhouse friends, her constant companion was her camera. Through her camera she began seeing her community, its gardens and its people in a different way.

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Mary - Navigating Life

Mary Navigating LifeFor most people, walking from a stone surface to grass is no big deal. But for Mary, that could be like trying to step over the Grand Canyon. Mary, who has autism, has limited communication skills and severe sensory issues. She has difficulty handling loud noises, depth perception, changes in routine and terrain. A change in the ground's incline, surface or color presents a huge challenge.

With the help of Goodwill Keystone Area's Community Skills Program, Mary is moving toward overcoming some of those obstacles.

The program helps those with significant disabilities care for their personal needs, such as eating, dressing and hygiene. It focuses on basic housekeeping skills such as wiping tables, dusting and vacuuming and emphasizes how to plan and prepare simple food items. Among other benefits, the program develops work skills and habits necessary for success.

Mary started in a Goodwill vocational program in 2005 shortly after graduating from high school. At the time, she was having trouble navigating her environment, described program manager Bonnie Mock. It was decided about a year ago that she would come to the Community Skills Program to work on her sensory issues. She also spends a lot of time working on communication - talking to her peers and going out in the community and talking with others.

"It's amazing the challenges she has everyday and how hard she works everyday," Mock said. "When she first came to us, just going out to the van and getting in the van was a huge obstacle - just to be able to step into a van. She now does that without a problem."

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Fatoumata - Gaining Confidence Every Day

Fatoumata Gaining Confidence Every DayFatoumata has overcome odds and obstacles. She came to the United States alone – without her family and friends – and that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

Fatoumata was born in West Africa, and she was born deaf. Her teachers and family didn’t know how to sign, so no one could teach her how to communicate. She struggled to tell others her needs and feelings and couldn’t attend school. Hoping for a better future for his daughter, Fatoumata’s father arranged for her to live with friends in the United States.

Once she settled in Berks County, she was connected with the Office of Vocational Rehabilitation (OVR), and was partnered with a teacher who taught reading, writing and sign language.

Fatoumata was interested in working at a store and she was referred to Goodwill. Goodwill job coaches began working with Fatoumata and arranged for her assessment and job training to take place at the Goodwill Store and Donation Center in Shillington. She was officially hired and converted from Goodwill client to Goodwill employee.

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