Lee Found His Voice at Goodwill

By Heather Phillips, Marketing Intern, Goodwill Omaha

Lee works in the production area at Goodwill Omaha’s Benson Park Plaza location, where he helps donors with their donations, sorts donations, and performs many other tasks.

Lee McCormick first came to Goodwill Omaha back in March 2019, as a participant in our Employment Solutions Retail Sector Training program, which teaches job skills for retail environments. After he’d finished the program, Lee applied for a production job at Goodwill Omaha’s Benson Park Plaza location, and he has worked there since August 2019.

Before he came to Goodwill Omaha, Lee was a quiet young man. He’d always had trouble being around a lot of people and talking to them. He also struggled when he couldn’t have his hood up or a hat on — he considered covering his head a form of protection, sort of a shield from the harsh world.

“With Goodwill, I can wear a head covering of some kind,” Lee said. “It helps me stay calm when I talk to people, as the hood in high school was a coping mechanism [for me] and still is.”

When Lee came to Goodwill, he worried that he would be asked to remove his hood, taking away his protection. He was wrong! In fact, he found that, rather than discouraging him, Goodwill Omaha’s team encouraged him to do what made him feel comfortable. That’s when Lee knew he had found a workplace and people that made him feel cared about.

Lee has struggled with talking to people all his life. It was something he had been working hard to fix about himself for a long time but never really seemed to succeed at as much as he would have liked. The day Lee realized he was becoming better at talking to people was a great day for him. And, he realized, it was because of his work at Goodwill Omaha.

Lee at work
Goodwill uses enormous box-like containers called gaylords to sort and temporarily store donated items that will soon reach our racks and shelves. The gaylords sit on pallets, which Lee moves with a pallet jack.

 

“I’ve used a couple of things I learned when I talked to customers to help when I see someone struggling,” Lee said. “I felt like I was getting better at talking to people outside of my job, which is what I strive to do.”

Lee remembered his interactions with customers and how he had helped them. He thought about the way they seemed happy when he did a good job. Finally, he realized that he could do the same thing with strangers outside of Goodwill. If he looked at them as customers, he could talk to them just like he does at work. When he saw a woman outside struggling with her purchases, he even had the courage to speak to her.

Lee realized that Goodwill was helping him with what used to feel like an impossible challenge. He was finding his voice. He did not want to be silent his entire life, and soon he wouldn’t have to be. And Goodwill motivated and prepared him to take the first step.

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