Group Supported Employment in Action

Judy Lane has been with Goodwill for 15 years. Originally joining in a horticultural setting, Lane worked with a group of participants growing plants and vegetables for sale at local farmers markets. Over the years as Goodwill programs changed and developed, Lane moved into the retail stores, providing every day coaching for groups of individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

Members of the supported group work in an inclusive environment, working along side Goodwill associates, donors and shoppers daily.

“Having the chance to experience an integrated environment helps them work on how to interact with people and overcome those challenges.”
Said Lane on the importance of the inclusive environments.

One of the participants Lane has worked with for over seven years is Anthony Southall. He was first referred to Goodwill for a skill building program before being referred to his role in the supported working environment. Today, he is excited to come to work and be part of a close-knit group who make work fun.

Anthony Southall

“This group has been together for a long time,” said Lane. “Sometimes they’ll call each other on the weekend, they all have nicknames for each other. It shows how comfortable they are together.”

Southall is a flexible employee and very outgoing. He loves to work as a customer greeter, welcoming shoppers to the store and interacting with the public. Before joining Goodwill, he worked in more isolated settings with less on-going support. Socializing with a diverse range of people has allowed him to develop his interpersonal skills.

Southall’s housemate is also a co-worker with Goodwill, working at a retail store in Chesterfield. They often talk about their experiences and both enjoy working for the organization. Southall’s parents also love to shop at the Centerville store and see their son thrive in a supportive workplace.

Individuals with disabilities have a range of barriers to employment and often have a lot of disruption in their daily lives. Lane enjoys being the continuity in their world. Coming into work every day they know what to expect and that she will help them to have positive experiences in their day.

Anthony Southall working as a textile hanger

“I believe if you have to work you’ve got to have some fun,” said Lane. “If a good song comes on we sing it, I tell them if they want to dance it’s fine as long as they’re still getting their work done.”

To learn more about the Goodwill’s inclusive work opportunities for individuals with disabilities contact Neil Young,