On October 12th, 2022 Goodwill of Western New York held its Pathways to Success 21st Annual Achievement Awards at the Powerhouse at Color Park in Buffalo. More than 200 guests gathered to celebrate the achievements of three individuals who exemplify the perseverance and dedication of the hundreds of people that Goodwill of Western New York supports, one community partner, and one business partner who have supported and promoted Goodwill’s mission to change lives through the power of work.
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.
We would also like to thank Rich’s Catering, The Hall Monitors jazz quintet from Williamsville East High School, our photographer Molly Sheehan, and our Event Committee for all their efforts.
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.
Community Partner of the Year
A private career-oriented Catholic college in the spirit of the Sisters of Mercy, Trocaire College strives to empower students toward personal enrichment, dignity, and self-worth. This student empowerment is embodied through education in a variety of professions and in the liberal arts. Recognizing the individual needs of a diverse student body, Trocaire College provides life-long learning and development within a community-based environment.
Trocaire’s goal is to help students who are determined to succeed, build careers of achievement and lives of purpose. They help individuals change their lives through education so they can transform their career paths and earn a living wage that transforms not only their own lives, but also the lives of their families.
The collaboration between Goodwill and Trocaire is a powerful one. With common goals and missions, it was a natural fit for the two organizations to combine resources and partner together for Goodskills Career Builder. This partnership allows us to work together to change people’s lives through education and training and to provide resources to address individual needs.
Trocaire College’s Workforce Development division covers a wide range of programming including Information Technology training. IT skills are in demand and employers are hiring for these jobs in Buffalo right now. It is estimated that more than 546,000 new IT jobs will be added over the next seven years with a median salary of over $86,000. In the partnership with Goodwill, Trocaire provides onsite IT training for Goodskills participants. Instructors from Trocaire conduct classes on cyber safety and Microsoft Office, and students have an opportunity to earn an internationally recognized certificate of completion.
The IT training Goodskills participants receive transforms into workforce readiness skills that not only benefit the students’ professional lives, but also their personal lives. The training provided by Trocaire instructors is the first step for many Goodskills participants who are looking for meaningful careers in the technology field. It opens doors to further training and jobs that provide a career path for growth and advancement.
We are proud to partner with Trocaire College and to continue to provide the training and opportunities that change lives.
M & T Bank
Business Partner of the Year
Great companies have an enduring sense of purpose. M&T Bank is one of these companies. They are driven to help, and encourage and enable their customers and communities to thrive. Founded in 1856, they care deeply about those they serve. Today the idea of ongoing connectivity and collaboration is more important than ever. M&T Bank believes in taking an active role in the lives of their customers and within our communities, working as one to promote the success of all.
M&T is committed to understanding the distinct needs and desires of the people and businesses who make our communities unique. M&T Bank has consistently earned the highest possible Community Reinvestment Act (CRA) performance rating from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York because they know they are only as successful as the communities they serve.
M&T Bank has had a longstanding partnership with Goodwill and has collaborated with Goodwill on numerous projects and initiatives. Goodwill is grateful for M&T’s generous support over the years. Our unique partnership continues to grow and evolve in a variety of meaningful ways.
M&T team members from the local neighborhood branch provide financial education for Goodskills Career Builder participants that truly make a difference in their lives. The financial literacy classes covering subjects such as banking basics, credit scores and repair, mortgages and retirement help participants understand and take control of their personal finances.
Goodskills participants tour the M&T Tech Academy at Seneca One as part of their curriculum to see the space and expose them to the advanced training and types of career opportunities available to them in the technology field.
M&T’s human resources team members connect with Goodskills graduates at the onsite job fair held monthly at Goodwill’s agency headquarters to assist with resume building and interviewing skills and potentially offer employment opportunities to those who are a good fit for M&T. Several Goodskills graduates have now been hired in customer support, online banking, and mortgage services positions and are proud to call M&T their employer.
We are thankful to M&T Bank for our partnership and look forward to continuing to help people change their lives, their careers, and their communities.
Achiever of the Year
Kenneth is a proud combat veteran who originally came to Goodwill in 2019. He worked with Goodwill's workforce team to overcome personal obstacles and determine his professional goals. After working on his resume and interviewing skills, Kenneth was hired for a one-year contract position at the US Census Bureau. When that position ended, he found himself unemployed again.
Kenneth enrolled in Goodwill’s Goodskills Career Builder. He gained a solid foundation of workforce readiness skills, technical training and hands on work experience and continued to develop his interviewing skills. When local employers came on site to interview Goodskills graduates, Kenneth was ready. He interviewed for his dream job at Tesla and landed the job he had set his mind to.
Kenneth is excelling in his position as an Energy Support Specialist at Tesla. He handles a variety of customer issues, administrative functions, special projects and support functions while delivering exceptional customer service. He has been both resilient and determined as he transitioned not only to civilian employment but also to a brand new career path. Kenneth’s attitude, aptitude, and commitment were the keys to successfully gaining employment at Tesla. He continues to demonstrate his love of learning and his strong work ethic. He makes it his goal to deliver the best possible customer service and takes pride in his work and the company where he works.
At Tesla, Kenneth's supervisors and team members describe him as a true professional. He is also empathetic, approachable, and easy to interact with. He enjoys and appreciates his team members and they feel likewise about him. He is grateful for how far he has come and for all who have supported him, and continue to do so, and we are proud to have been part of his journey.
Achiever of the Year
Shamar was at a place in his life where he felt he had no real direction. He was unemployed and knew he wanted a position that gave him a purpose, but he lacked the confidence and guidance to move forward. He was in need of stable housing, had other personal issues, and struggled with the ability to network and adapt to new schedules.
A friend told Shamar about Goodskills Career Builder. Enrolling in Goodskills Career Builder exposed Shamar to career possibilities in both the Technology and Manufacturing fields, and the skills and hands on training he learned could be applied in either career path. His upbeat, outgoing team-oriented personality began to shine. Shamar learned the tools and strategies he needed to gain and maintain confidence, communicate well, present himself in an interview and network across professions, allowing new doors of opportunity to open for him.
When Shamar interviewed with employers at the on-site job fair for Goodskills graduates, he initially landed a job with a local company in a remote position. He decided to go with another position that he felt would better suit his personality and his desire to do “hands on” work. That position is with PCB Piezotronics where he is building on the skills he has learned through Goodskills and participating in PCB’s manufacturing training program to become a Manufacturing Technician. Shamar had the skillset that PCB looks for when they are developing new trainees, and his employer describes him as a quick learner who is extremely reliable. Shamar will tell you that he really enjoys his new position at PCB. It has given him hope, and he appreciates the fact that every day is a new learning experience for him.
We are excited to see that Shamar has found his career path and look forward to what’s ahead for him.
Achiever of the Year
Roberta is a devoted single mom who was struggling and relying on public assistance when she was referred to Goodwill through an Erie County welfare to work program. She wanted more for herself and her daughter but lacked the skills and support she needed to be successful in finding a career path.
Roberta enrolled in Goodskills Career Builder, but she initially struggled to find child care and transportation so that she could attend training. With the support she received through her Career Coach and the Goodwill team she was able to attend classes. Roberta completed the Goodskills Manufacturing track where she learned workforce readiness skills, received forklift training and earned her OSHA 10 certification. Being surrounded by supportive, positive people inspired Roberta to be successful although admittedly the process was not always easy.
Upon graduation from Goodskills, Roberta had the opportunity to meet with local employers in the manufacturing field. She was well prepared with her newly learned interviewing skills, an updated resume and her ever-present positive attitude. The representative from Eastman Machine was impressed by Roberta’s energy, motivation and skillset and knew she would be a good fit at this family owned company.
In her position as a Manufacturing Technician at Eastman Machine, Roberta is a true team player who leads by example. She has created a family atmosphere in her department that is appreciated by everyone she works with. Roberta is grateful that she has found a “home” at Eastman. She now has a career, not a job, where she wants to stay and that she wants to retire from. She recently joined the union at Eastman so that she can have the security of receiving a full benefits package for herself and her daughter.
Roberta has come a long way from where she started on her career path and we are very proud of all she has accomplished.