Shamin Hotels and the Herndon Foundation Make Program a Success

Goodwill of Central and Coastal Virginia hosted its first cohort of the Pre-Employment Transitional Services (Pre-ETS)program in the summer of 2019 for five students who have disabilities.  The Virginia Department for Aging and Rehabilitative Services referred the teens, ages 17 and 18, for the eight-week program to help them become more confident and proactive and lay a foundation for soft skills and teamwork when transitioning into employment.

Tina Simmons, employment skills trainer and Pre-ETS program lead, saw first-hand how the students developed over the summer.  “They’ve learned how to work hard, pace themselves and express what they need. I am so proud of each one of them.  They have grown, blossomed and excelled. It has been a pleasure and honor to be a part of this amazing team.”

Shamin Hotels partnered with Goodwill to provide learning opportunities and skills training as the off-site work experience host for 2019.  Amy Stewart, director of sales, Homewood Suites by Hilton, expressed that the students learned quickly and maintained a positive, team attitude throughout the experience.

“My hope for these students is that they would look at the Hospitality field as an option for the future and that we as a company might embrace innovative ways to partner with Goodwill and other agencies to create exciting future opportunities,” said Stewart.

Amy Stewart, director of sales, Homewood Suites by Hilton; Shawn Smith, director, vocational services; Tina Simmons, employment skills trainer; Pre-ETS program participants Rimeka Young, Justin Wilborn, Jordan Wilson, Arryn Crawford, Clifford “Sam” Dalseide,

Beyond the skills training, students were paid a stipend for their work experience, thanks to support from the Herndon Foundation.  This tool was a positive motivator and brought an additional learning dimension to the program, allowing students to learn some basic money-management skills.

Pre-ETS participants also met with a community presenter, a VCU student with disabilities. The presenter discussed the importance of self-advocacy, education and career experience, financial management, legal rights and professional presentation. This peer-focused session made a significant impression on the participants, with one student recounting at the graduation that “disability is not inability” — a statement that resonated with the entire cohort and their families.

Goodwill offers several vocational services programs for youth and adults who have disabilities to help them become successfully employed. For more information on vocational services, visit