Goodwill® Store Supervisor Empowers Others through Example

Goodwill Industries International Honors Abigail Wilson with the 2014 Edgar J. Helms Award for Graduate Staf 

Portland, OR — For three years, Abigail Wilson has served as a Goodwill® store supervisor in Bend, OR. In addition to training staff and ensuring growth in sales, she serves as inspiration to her employer, her employees and the community by demonstrating that people should be judged for their abilities and not their disabilities. For empowering others and demonstrating the values of Goodwill’s founder, Goodwill Industries International honors Wilson with the 2014 Edgar J. Helms Award for Graduate Staff.
After fighting cancer for more than 10 years, Wilson had a laryngectomy to save her life. She now uses a prosthetic device to breathe and speak. Despite having a wealth of experience in retail management, she was unable to find work. She sought out the help of Goodwill Industries of the Columbia Willamette (Portland, OR) at its Bend Job Connection Center. She worked with employment specialists to find ways to re-enter the workforce. However, Wilson believes that employers could not look beyond her disability.
Their loss was Goodwill’s gain. Wilson was hired at the Bend store and has become known for her creativity and merchandising expertise, as well as having a knack for identifying priceless finds that sell well through Goodwill’s e-commerce operation. She inspires her employees with her enthusiasm and passion for Goodwill’s mission. She works with production staff to help them recognize quality donations such as antiques, collectibles, designer goods and vintage finds. When those items sell on the e-commerce site, she brings the good news back to staff to give them credit for their hard work in funding Goodwill’s mission.
“A down economy is a barrier to employment but being different in a down economy can seem like an insurmountable barrier,” said Jim Gibbons, president and CEO of Goodwill Industries International. “But Abigail’s talents in retail and people management caught Goodwill’s eye. Now Abigail serves as an ambassador of Goodwill’s mission in everything she does.”
Wilson speaks highly of her Goodwill experience. “This is the first time in 15 years where my voice – or lack of one – isn’t an issue,” she said. “How can you not love working for a company whose mission statement is to provide jobs and services to people with challenges to finding employment?”
Wilson will receive her award at Goodwill’s annual Delegate Assembly meeting in Austin, TX, on June 29, 2014. The 2014 Edgar J. Helms Award for Graduate Staff is sponsored by Cintas®.
The Edgar J. Helms Award for Graduate Staff honors a current Goodwill employee who is a past recipient of Goodwill services and exemplifies the mission of Goodwill Industries and its founder Rev. Edgar J. Helms’ values of unselfish service to people with disabilities or other disadvantaging conditions.