Goodwill celebrated area businesses and partner agencies at its annual Business Advisory Council Appreciation Breakfast, held Sept. 16. The Business Advisory Councils (BACs) are groups of local business and community professionals that provide advice and support to Goodwill’s Workforce Development Services. There are currently five Councils with more than 200 members.
At the breakfast, which took place at WinMock at Kinderton in Bermuda Run, BAC members heard remarks from several Goodwill program participants about how the support of the local business community helped them find meaningful employment.
One of those program graduates, Angelo Pegeuse, is currently employed by Hayward Industries, a residential and commercial swimming pool equipment company. Pegeuse was one of the first graduates of the Project Re-entry program from a closed-custody facility (maximum security), Marion Correctional in McDowell County. He served nine years locked down 23:1, or 23 hours locked down and one hour out each day. He began working with Hayward Industries upon release, starting out sweeping floors and then asking for more work and responsibility. Today, Pegeuse has his own apartment and is in school electrical engineering and computer engineering.
“I learned from the mistakes I made, and I’m working on my long-term goals. Every day I wake up free is a blessing,” Pegeuse said.
Another program graduate, Daja Carethers, participated both in the Crosby Scholars college access program and in eLink. When she was younger, she was exposed to alcoholism and domestic violence. Her family situation was such that she was tasked with taking care of herself and her younger brother. In high school, many of her friends became teen mothers and got in trouble with drugs but instead, Daja was the first of her friends to graduate high school – and with a 3.9 GPA.
She credits eLink with proving her the positive support system she needed, as well as helping with education and employment resources. Today Daja is a student at Winston-Salem State University. “I made a way when there was no way,” she said.
Graduate Tina Halabi also had a troubled upbringing, growing up in the foster system and dropping out of high school. Halabi and her family struggled financially and she found it difficult to find and keep work. She wanted to complete her education, but didn’t know where to begin. She entered the Access Center Adult High School program in February of 2014 as one of its first students. She received one-on-one coaching, which provided support and helped her pinpoint her strengths and passions: nursing. In addition to fulfilling the required credits, Halabi completed a nursing assistant I course, which enabled her to find a job with Piedmont Home Health.
Today the mother of three works at Brenner Children’s Hospital as an NA II with the goal of becoming an RN. She told the BAC members, “What I learned through Goodwill was never to give up. Your support of Goodwill gave me a second chance to pursue my dreams.”
Members from each BAC were also recognized with awards for service. Sherry Polonsky, chair of Goodwill’s Board of Directors, thanked the members for helping Goodwill develop training programs that prepare people to fill open jobs. “We are extremely proud to have over 200 volunteers with the BAC. You provide us vital information about market trends and connect us with local employers,” she said. President and CEO Art Gibel agreed, saying that input from local employers directly impacts the job preparation programs that Goodwill provides. “We learn from you,” he said.
Business Advisory Council (BAC) members provide advice and counsel to Goodwill staff, serve as mentors and role models for program participants, educate others on Goodwill’s mission and services and maintain a network for the successful employment of program graduates. Learn more about how to join the BAC here.