My Story: Kevin Ricksy

By Tammer Heard, Older Worker Services Coach and Compliance Monitor, Goodwill Industries International and Beth Hannon-Penny, Older Worker Services Program Director, Goodwill Industries International

Our world is shaped by those who come together and take action for the greater-good, especially Veterans.

From the minister who hired individuals to mend, and repair used goods, to the servicemen and women who put their lives on the line to protect the freedom, democracy, rights, and privileges of our great country, these individuals are an integral part to a community’s ability to meet the needs of the most vulnerable. Within this group, is Kevin Ricksy.

Kevin, a retired military veteran and current SCSEP participant, has dedicated his life to serving his community. A series of circumstances, including two hip replacements and the amputation of two fingers, drove Kevin into retirement. Kevin was looking for a way to continue to help his community and garner skills for consistent employment. A colleague encouraged Kevin to connect with the Senior Community Service and Employment Program at Goodwill Industries of Michiana, Inc. . In SCSEP, participants train with a variety of organizations for up to four years, while a Goodwill SCSEP Guide will help them create an individualized career plan.  The individualized career plan identifies a participant’s employment goals and determines the job readiness services needed to reach employment.

Since fall of 2021, Kevin has trained with Food Finders, a food bank in Lafayette, Indiana, and has helped to create a pristine and safe environment for all who enter. According to Kevin, the COVID-19 pandemic made it difficult to maintain the enhanced sanitation requirements of the food bank setting, but the work was critical for those relying on the donated supplies for weekly meals.

In his early days at Food Finders, Kevin was tasked with managing all liquid spills, litter, and stacks of unsorted merchandise that could contribute to a store injury.  Beyond maintenance duties, Kevin often found himself encouraging visitors as they shopped for needed goods. Kevin mentioned that, for some, the decision to reach out for assistance with groceries or other expenses can be a difficult one. He notes how the stigma around food pantries is often negative. “Hopefully, when my neighbors walk into Food Finders, the presentation alone dignifies their experience.  More importantly they know that our community will always be a resource for any neighbor,” Kevin says.

Through this assignment Kevin continued to improve his digital skills and help his community. After a few months of paid community service and job training, Kevin’s supervisor expressed a desire to hire him.  Unfortunately, a few days prior to his start date and after a routine doctor’s visit, Kevin was diagnosed with blood clots in his lungs. Kevin immediately sought treatment and had to postpone his job opportunity while he recovered. Once receiving a clean bill of health, Kevin will continue to build his skills and impact his community through SCSEP.

If you are an older worker seeking help with training or paid work experience, contact your local SCSEP representative to see if you qualify. Find a SCSEP location near you to see if you qualify.

To learn more about Goodwill job training programs or career search assistance, contact your local Goodwill.