Supporting Individuals Employed In Our Communities

Q&A with Samuel Knight, Goodwill employment specialist:

  1. How long have you worked for Goodwill?

Since Sept. 9, 2019. Before I joined Goodwill, I was doing similar work for a company called Brain Injury Services.

  1. What drew you to your position?

I like helping individuals with disabilities find jobs because I know they have a lot of issues finding work. The joy in helping them get there is great. Having a job and being able to maintain it is so important.

  1. What specific skills and expertise do you have that aid you in your work?

I have over eight years of experience working in the skills training field, helping individuals with disabilities overcome challenges in the workplace. My son has autism, so I am fully immersed in the needs of people with disabilities. I am conscientious about being patient and encouraging, and I bring those traits to work, which helps me serve my clients.

  1. What do you love about your job?

The satisfaction of when my clients get a job and then their first paycheck. They start telling me what they’re going to do long-term – save up to move out, or buy a car, or to help their family out. I love to see their smiles when they get their first paycheck; many are working after a long haitus or have finally landed their first job.

  1. What is the biggest challenge in your work currently?

There are not enough work hours in the day. I want to do so much for each client, all of whom are in different stages in their development. It’s a balancing act to make sure the clients that I have are getting the support they need while still meeting the administrative demands of my position.

  1. What challenges have you overcome in your work?

I think working with anyone with a disability is a challenge – a rewarding challenge.  I want to make sure I’m giving them all the support that they need to succeed. Sometimes it’s more than just employment — they might need help with transportation or housing, or they may need to be pointed in the right direction for benefits counseling. Sometimes people need a friend and they just want to talk. They might not have a lot of friends or people with whom they can discuss their issues. At those times, I have to put on the hat of a friend, step aside from being their employment specialist and listen to the client. Through listening, I get to understand my clients better and can provide more support beyond just helping them to secure employment.

  1. What do you like about working for Goodwill?

The co-workers. Everyone is very nice, everyone is helpful and ready to answer questions. That’s been the biggest thing for me, the comradery I have with my co-workers.

  1. How do the services you provide help individuals with disabilities improve and grow?

Helping our clients find jobs gives them the confidence that they can thrive in the community. In many cases they don’t have a social life outside of their immediate families, but once they get a job, they have co-workers and they build new relationships and friendships. It’s awesome for my clients to have those opportunities in inclusive environments.