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Pathways to Success 20th Annual Achievement Awards Held

On October 19th, 2021 Goodwill of Western New York held its Pathways to Success 20th Annual Achievement Awards at the historic Barrel Factory located in the Old First Ward of Buffalo. More than 200 guests gathered to celebrate the achievements of four individuals who exemplify the perseverance and dedication of the hundreds of people that Goodwill of Western New York supports and one business partner that has supported and promoted Goodwill’s mission to the community.

Special thanks to our presenting sponsor West Herr Automotive Group and all our supporters who made this special night possible and continue to support our mission of helping people reach their full potential through learning and the power of work.

A profile for each awardee was written and a short video shared with everyone in attendance. We encourage you to read these amazing stories and watch these short videos below.


Life had not always been easy for Lawanda or “Red” as she is affectionately called by all who know her.

Red’s journey at Goodwill began when she relocated to Buffalo from South Carolina due to personal and family issues. She felt she would have more opportunities to create a better life for herself and have a fresh start. Red was referred to Goodwill through a welfare to work program which required her to work and receive job training in order to maintain her public assistance benefits.

While fulfilling the requirements of her program, Red worked in Goodwill’s Donated Goods Processing Division sorting donations from the community to be sold in Goodwill’s retail stores. Although she performed her job well, she was known for being “feisty” and did not always know how to handle situations that arose in the workplace or how to handle work relationships. Red worked closely with her Goodwill case manager to develop both her personal and professional skills which made her a better team member – and a better person.

Red’s work ethic and potential were noticed by Goodwill’s Director of Retail Operations who suggested Red apply for a store associate position at Goodwill’s Buffalo location. She applied and landed the position. Red’s personality was perfect for the store position and she excelled in her new role. When an assistant manager position became available at the store, Red was ready, and she was promoted to the management position she now holds.

Goodwill’s Buffalo store is definitely a better place with Red in it. Her larger than life personality shines through and she has created a real team atmosphere for her staff and a welcoming shopping experience for customers, many of them “regulars” at the store that Red knows by name. We have watched Red climb the retail management career ladder and could not be more proud of how far she has come and all she has accomplished.


Chelsea thought that graduating from college would mean she would be able to find a great job soon after, however that was not the case. She experienced a few barriers to finding employment and realized that she would need help completing her job search and preparing for interviews. She was referred to Goodwill to gain the skills she needed.

At Goodwill, Chelsea worked with her Case Manager on her work readiness skills and learned “how to make a good impression in an interview” and succeed in her job search. She was always open to options available to her. Chelsea gained valuable work experience in Goodwill’s Donated Goods/Retail Division and trained at Goodwill’s Buffalo store. She interviewed for and was hired as a sales associate at Goodwill’s Hamburg location where she worked for two years.

Although Chelsea enjoyed her position and did well, she says it “wasn’t really where I wanted to be”. Chelsea thought that she might like working in an office environment and decided to enroll into Goodwill’s Long Term Employment Program to help her find a new position that would allow her to utilize her college education and customer service experience. Chelsea started to work with a Career Coach who provided her with guidance and support to be able to reach her goals and take steps toward a new career path.

Chelsea’s timing could not have been better. Goodwill had just partnered with Fisher Price/Mattel on a new training program for a career path that would prove to be perfect for Chelsea. She received training and hands on work experience as a data entry clerk working on a fulfillment project for Fisher Price/Mattel’s Hot Wheels products, and she is thriving in the office environment.

Chelsea has gained many new work skills through her position and has a positive view on the future of her career. We’re excited to see that Chelsea has found her career path and look forward to what’s ahead for her.

Dan and Armen

Dan and Armen Mulumba arrived in the United States as refugees. They had escaped with their parents and younger brother from Africa “to find a better life” for themselves.

The local agency that assisted them with their arrival referred Dan and Armen to Goodwill. They had already completed high school and spoke English, and it was felt they could benefit from one of Goodwill’s workforce development programs. Within a month of their arrival, they were enrolled in Goodwill’s manufacturing training program which included technical training, workforce readiness skills and work experience that would enable them to get on a career path in the growing manufacturing sector. They had never held a job and were both eager to learn, gain work experience and interact with coworkers.

Upon receiving their certificates of completion from the manufacturing training program, Dan and Armen were ready to land a job. With the help of Goodwill, they worked on their job search and interviewing skills and began applying for jobs. When the right opportunity opened up, they were ready and landed full time jobs at Tapecon, a local manufacturing company – Armen as a machine operator and Dan as a packaging/inspection associate, with many opportunities for growth and advancement.

Dan and Armen decided to continue their education and enrolled at Erie Community College – Armen for Business Administration and Dan in Business with hopes to major in accounting. Their employer fully supported their decision and made allowances to that they could balance work and school. Armen even took “Zoom classes on lunch”.

Goodwill’s has supported these two bright individuals throughout their journey, and it has been a pleasure to watch them thrive in their personal and professional lives. Dan will proudly tell you he now even has his driver’s license.

We are so proud of Dan and Armen and excited to see what the future holds for these two very special individuals.

Fisher-Price | Mattel

Everyone knows Fisher-Price. For over 90 years, they have produced educational toys for infants, toddlers and preschoolers from their headquarters in East Aurora, NY. This iconic brand has created the familiar toys that generations of children and families around the world know and love.

In 1931, Herman Fisher and Irving Price embarked on a journey to change the toy industry. Their goal was to create toys that inspire a child's development, based on the belief that play is the way children learn best. To this day, understanding the importance of play while helping to build a child's skill set is the fundamental principle, as the company strives to enrich the lives of families with young children. In 1993 Fisher-Price became a subsidiary of Mattel.

The Fisher-Price/Mattel philosophy of learning and development resonates in everything they do as a company and aligns with Goodwill’s mission to help people learn and develop the skills they need to prepare for, find and keep jobs in WNY.

Fisher-Price/Mattel has had a long-standing partnership with Goodwill and has collaborated on many projects over the years. When an opportunity arose to create a new training initiative for Goodwill’s Goodskills Career Builder, Fisher-Price was the clear choice. Participants receive the training and practical work experience needed to begin a career in the data entry field by working on a fulfillment project for Mattel’s Hot Wheels promotions and product safety registration initiatives. This training and work experience provide the first step on the career ladder for many of Goodwill’s Goodskills participants who are looking to enter the data entry and technology field. This partnership assists with opening doors to many jobs that provide a career path for growth and advancement. After participating in the Fisher-Price/Mattel training, participants have the option to continue their training in the technology field by enrolling in a Tech Initiative Program.

We thank Fisher-Price/Mattel for collaborating on the Data Entry Training Initiative and look forward to our continued partnership as we help people change their lives and build careers.


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