Training is tailored to the needs of each Goodwill client, the program's marketing director says.
By MARALINE KUBIK
VINDICATOR STAFF WRITER
YOUNGSTOWN -- Ten years ago, Dan Wallack couldn't hold a job, cook a meal, wash his clothes, read a newspaper or live independently.
Today he has a steady job, is about to move into an apartment, and is being recognized for excelling in his training at Goodwill.
Wallack was one of three Goodwill graduates honored during an annual awards banquet Thursday at the Holiday Inn MetroPlex.
Skills taught: About 100 area residents graduate from Goodwill's training programs each year -- individuals who were previously unemployable because of a physical, mental, emotional or economic disability, said Melissa Pearce, marketing director. All some need is training on how to adjust to going to work every day. "A lot of times, this is their first job," she explained.
Others need more comprehensive training. They need to learn how to use the bank, catch a bus, groom themselves, prepare nutritious meals, show up for work on time, and master skills necessary to do a job.
Goodwill assesses the needs of each client, Pearce said, and "tailors a program to meet the needs of the individual." They work in Goodwill's sheltered workshop until they can be competitive in the marketplace before moving into the traditional work force.
Success story: Wallack, who worked at Goodwill for 10 years before moving into the labor force, couldn't hold a job before. He learned to detail cars as part of special education class in high school, but would frequently walk off the job before it was finished.
"I thought it was funny," he recalled. "I don't do it anymore. I like working. I learned a lot of responsibility at Goodwill."
Today, Wallack, 46, works in the janitorial and maintenance department of Alpha Therapeutic Corp., Youngstown. Since he was hired last November, he hasn't missed a day of work.
"Dan's a great worker. He has a fantastic attitude, and he really takes a lot of pride in his work," said Paul Bray, Alpha Therapeutic general manager.
Alpha Therapeutic employs three workers that came through Goodwill, two in maintenance and one in processing. The first was hired about two years ago; the others were hired late last year.
"They do a great job. We're very satisfied with the workers who've come through Goodwill," Bray said. "It's been a great program for us, and we're glad to help out any way we can." Bray also sits on the business advisory council for Goodwill.
Wallack said he always thought he could hold a job but didn't know how to do it until he came to Goodwill. Referring to the work he did in the organization's sheltered workshop, he added, "This is the longest job I ever kept."
Although he admitted to being "a little scared at first" to take a job in the outside world, it's turned out to be a good thing.
Robert Mitchell, a Goodwill placement aide, visited Wallack on the job almost every day for the first month. "Then he started to catch on," Mitchell said. "Now, he works very independently -- he's on his own."
Wallack plans to move into an apartment later this month and said he will work more days to pay for it. He's already selected new furniture and made the first payment.