Goodwill Impact Luncheon Shares Inspiring Stories


A young woman who lost her eyesight but found a renewed sense of purpose. A group of people with intellectual disabilities who inspire everyone around them. And a woman who is proving she can excel in what many consider a man’s field.

These were among the stories of achievement celebrated by Goodwill at its Impact Luncheon awards ceremony in Nashville last Thursday.

Outstanding Goodwill employees, Career Solutions clients and community partners were recognized during the event at the Music City Center. The luncheon was emceed by NewsChannel 5 Anchor Rhori Johnston and sponsored by American Paper & Twine.

In honor of Goodwill Industries of Middle Tennessee’s 60th anniversary — being celebrated this year — the nonprofit also honored five volunteer board members who played critical roles in its history with Pioneer Awards. Recipients were: William Cammack, chairman of Equitable Trust; the late Gib DeLacey, former chief financial officer of Third National Bank; the late Earl Beasley, co-founder of Volunteer Capital Corporation; the late Alex Taylor, owner of Taylor Impressions Printing; and the late Russell Stansell, a contractor with Stansell Electric Company.


Achievers of the Year
The recipients of this award have achieved great success since being hired by Goodwill.

Lynn Starks was in her early 30s when she learned her eyesight was failing because of diabetes. After several years and two failed surgeries, she was completely blind. Lynn’s vision troubles forced her to leave her job as the head cook for a nursing home. She was unemployed for a full year. Making matters worse, friends stopped coming to see her and she felt increasingly isolated and, she said, like God had forgotten her. But then, Starks submitted an application at the Mt. Juliet Goodwill store. Soon, she was working as the store’s greeter. Today, at 39, Starks’ life is coming back into focus. Her job allows her to talk to dozens of new people every week. It fills her with a sense of accomplishment, and her manager says she constantly exceeds expectations. “If it wasn’t for this job — I don’t know,” Starks says. “I love working here.”

Lisa Young had once worked in retail, and it wasn’t a good experience. So, in February of 2013, when she came to the Goodwill Career Solutions center in Jackson for help finding a job — her only request was that she not work in retail. At Career Solutions, she created a resume and completed classes in computer basics and online job search. But her options were limited because she had trouble passing a background check. And then, her father died unexpectedly, leaving the single mother with no help supporting her four children. So she gladly accepted a job at Goodwill’s store in North Jackson. Soon, Young fell in love with Goodwill’s mission of changing lives through education, training and employment. Four years later, she “absolutely loves” her job, has received a promotion and hopes to one day work at Goodwill’s corporate office.

LaVoi-Katz Award
This award is named in honor of two women who were loyal supporters of Goodwill, Madaleine LaVoi and Elsine Katz. The award is given to a Career Solutions client who has made outstanding progress in their program at Goodwill.

Since its founding in 1957, providing employment for people with disabilities has always been at the heart of Goodwill’s mission. Today, the nonprofit employs more than 400 people with disabilities, including one unique group of about 30 Goodwill employees with intellectual or developmental disabilities who work together in Nashville. Most organize clothes hangers or hang clothing for Goodwill. But they are so much more. The group’s name was inspired years ago by the 1980s TV show of the same name. Like the characters on the TV series, the A-Team always seems to come to the rescue. When folks at Goodwill feel down, the A-Team makes them smile. And when they feel like celebrating, the A-Team always brings the party. In return, Goodwill gives them a safe, supportive place to do productive, meaningful work, earn a paycheck and socialize.

David B. Lifsey Scholarship
This annual scholarship, named for Goodwill’s past president who served four decades, is presented to a Goodwill training program graduate who plans to enroll in post-secondary education or a credentialed certification program.

Education has always been a priority for Vickie Ash. She was never able to go to college but was determined that her son would have that opportunity. So they moved from West Virginia to Tennessee so he could start school at Austin Peay State University. Ash visited Goodwill Career Solutions for resume assistance and help finding a better job. Based on her interests, an employment coach placed her in Goodwill’s nationally-certified construction training program. Ash learned a lot and discovered she could succeed in a field dominated by men. A year after graduating, Vickie has built a successful career. Her company, Ash Construction, has completed renovations on four homes as well as a major plumbing project, and she has two more large jobs lined up. Ash’s income has doubled, and she is confident in her skills.

The employer and community partners are organizations that have significantly contributed to Goodwill’s mission of providing jobs and job services to those who struggle to find work.

Donor Partner of the Year Award

Since 1996, Nashville’s Hillsboro High School has partnered with Goodwill in the operation of a Donations Express Center on the school grounds as part of a student-led effort. The center is consistently among the top-producing donation sites for Goodwill, and Principal Kenyae Reese says the partnership provides a valuable learning experience for students.

Community Partner of the Year Award

Tennessee College of Applied Technology – Nashville has for many years partnered with Goodwill on education initiatives. Recently, the two institutions have joined forces to present ongoing seminars to help potential students overcome barriers to returning to school, providing them with information on college enrollment preparation, financial planning and more.

Goodwill Ambassador of the Year

Porsche Pope is a fashion and thrift blogger and stylist living in Nashville who has a passion for Goodwill’s inexpensive shopping opportunities and its mission. Known to her many fans Polished Pope, Pope frequently writes about — and posts photos of — her Goodwill finds. She has participated in several Goodwill fashion events, has appeared on TV to discuss Goodwill and spearheaded Goodwill’s recent Back2School Style Giveaway for high school students.

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