Anthony Barker is a charming and determined young man who has proven that he will not let obstacles hinder his future. Anthony faced numerous hardships from the day he was born. Born premature, Anthony had to undergo countless surgeries throughout his childhood. As an adult, Anthony has been forced to manage challenges with transportation, having limited family support and never receiving adequate job training. Instead of letting these obstacles impede his success, Anthony kept striving to make something of himself. His desire to change his life led him to MERS Goodwill.
“I had been unemployed for more than a year and was at a job fair trying to find a job,” said Anthony. “I happened to come across Goodwill and learned about the different types of employment service programs they offered. I only knew about the stores Goodwill has, not about the services.”
Within a week of learning about Goodwill, Anthony enrolled in the Supported Employment program which is designed to meet the employment needs of individuals with developmental disabilities. The program provides work readiness training and job placement along with retention services to ensure individuals are placed into competitive work settings while providing them with continuous support throughout employment. Once enrolled, Anthony met with his Employment Specialist, Brenda Owens. Initially, Anthony and Brenda worked together to boost his confidence and job retention skills.
At 31 years old Anthony has never been able to hold a job for more than five or six months. With each job he had, Anthony felt like he was never given sufficient job training. Instead of formal job training, other employees would ‘show him the ropes’ and would eventually go back to their own jobs, leaving Anthony without any clear direction and trying to figure out how to proceed on his own.
“I vividly remember meeting Anthony for the first time,” said Employment Specialist and Job Developer Brenda Owens. “This bright young man was immediately likable, and I could tell he was exceptional right from the start.”
Shortly after his initial meeting with Brenda, Anthony participated in job shadowing at The Town & Country Supermarket in Doniphan. The manager at the supermarket was so impressed with Anthony that he was hired as a fulltime employee. For the following three months, Anthony worked with a job coach to continue strengthening his skills and job performance.
Now, working in the maintenance department for the past seven months, Anthony is responsible for stocking shelves, bagging groceries and making sure the outside and inside of the store looks presentable. His new role has changed his life and he credits Goodwill with helping him find success.
“Without training, I felt like I was never really given a chance to succeed,” said Anthony. “Working with Brenda and Donna helped build my confidence and opened by mind to what I am capable of doing and can accomplish. I am truly grateful for the training I obtained from Goodwill and the support I continue to receive.”
Anthony is not the only one who benefited from his experience with Goodwill, Brenda did as well.
“I feel truly lucky to have met Anthony,” said Brenda. “On days when I am bone-tired, it is Anthony and his story that motives me to keep going. He makes me want to be a better person and I feel blessed that I have to opportunity to work with him.”