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Donald's Story

"I can't say enough about the encouragement I received at Goodwill. They were always pushing me to see what more I can do."

Donald Wallace had worked in construction his whole life doing a highly physical job. In 2016 his world was turned upside down when he was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, suffered a massive heart attack and had quadruple bypass surgery. After a long road of rehabilitation and healing, he changed his lifestyle and got back on his feet. Part of getting his life together meant exploring the type of work he would now be able to perform.

Donald was referred by the State Education Department’s ACCES-VR (Adult Career & Continuing Ed Services-Vocational Rehabilitation) to Goodwill for a vocational evaluation in 2018. He was unsure of his vocational path and physical abilities and found the prospect of starting over daunting. His main concern was that he lacked a support system to help him move forward, and building a network was his highest priority. The Goodwill evaluator recommended that Donald enroll in Supportive Services Corporation’s Senior Community Employment program. Since Goodwill partners with Supportive Services, Donald was able to remain at Goodwill to explore his abilities and measure his strength through different work activities. He also followed up on another Goodwill recommendation to have ACCES-VR sponsor a basic electrician class for him at Erie 1 BOCES. He attended class every evening for four months while continuing to work at Goodwill and successfully completed the program.

Donald will tell you that the Goodwill team was “always pushing” him to do more, and he developed an “I know I can do it attitude.” If it were not for the encouragement he received, he says he would “still be at home sitting on the couch”. When Donald was told about an opportunity to enroll in the Mechatronics program at the new Northland Workforce Training Center, he was “up for the challenge” and “all in”. He worked with Goodwill staff to prepare academically to apply for the program, was accepted, and recently started on his new career path. When he completes the program, Goodwill staff will again work with him to secure a position in the mechatronics field.

Ironically, the day Donald receives the Achiever of the Year award is the third anniversary of the day he had his heart surgery. Donald will tell you that “It’s been a journey and that he has “come so far in those three years”. We are very proud of Donald and can’t wait to see what he’ll do next!

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