Everyone who works at the Goodwill store on Murfreesboro Road in Franklin knows Elizabeth is a Kansas City Chiefs fan.
Recently, a winter hat with the football team’s name, colors and arrowhead logo was donated to Goodwill and set out among the store’s merchandise. After his shift ended, one of the store’s employees purchased the hat. He brought it in the next morning and gave it to Elizabeth.
“It was such a great moment — she let out a holler and had this huge smile,” recalls store manager Chuck Nebel. “That’s typical of the kind of thoughtfulness that Elizabeth brings out in others. When she comes in, it’s like a ray of sunshine coming into the store.”
Donations of clothing and household goods to Goodwill Industries of Middle Tennessee help thousands of people facing barriers to employment to achieve success like Elizabeth. Right now, Goodwill especially needs donations of winter garments, such as coats, jackets, sweaters and sweatshirts for adults and children.
Elizabeth, 25, has worked as a retail assistant at the store since June of 2013. She has cerebral palsy and some learning disabilities, but those challenges never hinder her in making important contributions, Nebel says. Her primary duty is moving clothing out into the store from the processing area, but she provides support in many other areas.
“When one task is done, she is looking for more,” Nebel said. “She never has a bad day and is always willing to help others.”
Elizabeth lives in Nolensville with her parents. Her mother, K. Shreffler, said Elizabeth has become more independent since taking the job at Goodwill.
“I’m amazed at what she has picked up at Goodwill that she’s maintained — learning all the processes and where things go,” she said. “She’s a lot happier now that she has a job that gives her purpose. She wants to go to work. And at home she’s more helpful and organized — almost too organized at times!”
Schreffler said she and her husband recognized back in 2012 that Elizabeth needed a job to keep her busy and fulfilled. She was spending too much time at home bored or just playing video games. They tried having her volunteer with another nonprofit, but there weren’t enough hours available to keep her engaged.
Then, they took her to Goodwill Career Solutions, where she was entered into the Transitional Program and assigned a job coach to help her learn retail tasks. Several months later, she was hired on at the Franklin store.
Shreffler said the job has been good for her daughter in other ways, too. She has many friends at Goodwill, and some of those relationships have helped Elizabeth expand her social life outside of work. Occasionally, female friends Elizabeth met through Goodwill pick her up and take her shopping.
Asked what she likes about her job, Elizabeth said she enjoys joking with co-workers, making her own money and giving gifts during the store’s Christmas party.
“Goodwill helps me get out of the house for awhile,” she adds.
Nebel said the store is every bit as reliant on Elizabeth as she is on Goodwill.
“She is an absolute inspiration,” he said.
About Goodwill Industries of Middle Tennessee, Inc.
For 60 years, Goodwill Industries of Middle Tennessee has provided job training and job placement free of charge to people with disabilities or other barriers to employment through the sale of donated items. Goodwill’s vision is that all people will have the opportunity to reach their fullest potential through the power of work. More information about Goodwill’s Career Solutions, retail stores and donation centers can be obtained online at www.giveit2goodwill.org or by calling 1-800-545-9231.
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