Overcoming A Past Of Abuse And Hardship To Lead A Life Of Success And Service To Others

Goodwill® Recognizes Tieausha Thomas as its 2017 Kenneth Shaw Graduate of the Year
ROCKVILLE, MD — Tieausha Thomas’ life story is one of courage and perseverance. For all that she has overcome — and all that she has accomplished — Goodwill Industries International is pleased to honor Thomas as its 2017 Kenneth Shaw Graduate of the Year.
Thomas grew up with a mother who abused drugs and neglected her, and a father who was an alcoholic and verbally and physically abusive. She lost her uncle and grandfather, and had several failed foster care experiences. She was married at a young age, had two children, and then divorced after facing still more abuse. Thomas has worked through the challenges in her life and is a successful working mother with an award-winning career, committed to caring for her children, ages 7 and 9, and reaching her goals.
“Tieausha is an inspiring example of how one person’s strength and resilience can break a generational cycle of violence and addiction,” said Stacy Larsen, communications manager and Thomas’s sponsor, Goodwill Industries of the Columbia Willamette (Portland, OR). “Her tenacious spirit triumphed over oppressive disadvantages. Despite the struggles of her past, Tieausha sees beauty in every day.”
Thomas credits Goodwill Industries of the Columbia Willamette’s Job Connection program for helping her turn her life around for the better. Working with an employment specialist, she learned the job-hunting and employment skills that helped her land a job as a teller with Wells Fargo in Salem, OR. She advanced from part-time to full-time teller in less than a year, and then to a position as a phone banker. She was also named among the Top 20 Tellers for her service area.
“I feel like I’m in a position both personally and professionally where I’m achieving my goals,” she said, “to have a decent life, good friends, to help others. And I’m not done. I’m just warming up.”
In addition to thriving in her career, she is also inspiring a younger generation through public speaking, an instructional video and her own Facebook page, Tieausha Speaks. She is also starting to write a book about her life to help inspire others like her.
Thomas will receive her award at the Delegate Awards assembly in Louisville, KY on June 27, 2017.
Goodwill Industries International’s Kenneth Shaw Graduate of the Year award honors an outstanding person for completing a Goodwill career program and becoming competitively employed by a non-Goodwill employer in the community. The award was renamed in 2008 to honor the late Kenneth Shaw’s significant contributions to the Goodwill enterprise over a four-decade period.
About Goodwill Industries International
Goodwill Industries International (GII) is a network of 162 community-based, autonomous organizations in the United States and Canada with a presence in 13 other countries. GII is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit that is recognized by GuideStar with its Platinum Seal of Approval, the organization’s highest rating for charities. GII was also ranked by Enso as the #1 brand doing the most good in the world, and was the only nonprofit brand rated in Forbes’ 20 most inspiring companies for three consecutive years. Local Goodwill organizations are innovative and sustainable social enterprises that create job training programs, employment placement and other community-based programs by selling donated clothing and household items in more than 3,200 stores collectively and online at shopgoodwill.com®. Local Goodwill organizations also build revenue and create jobs by contracting with businesses and government to provide a wide range of commercial services, including packaging and assembly, food services preparation, and document imaging and shredding. Last year, local Goodwill organizations collectively placed more than 313,000 people in employment in the United States and Canada. In addition, more than 34 million people used computers and mobile devices to access Goodwill education, training, mentoring and online learning services to strengthen their skills, and more than 2 million people received in person services. To learn more, visit goodwill.org. For more information or to find a Goodwill location near you, use the online locator at Goodwill.org or call (800) GOODWILL. Follow us on Twitter: @GoodwillIntl and @GoodwillCapHill, and find us on Facebook: GoodwillIntl or Instagram: GoodwillIntl.
Lauren Lawson-Zilai
Senior Director, Public Relations
Goodwill Industries International
Phone: (240) 333-5266
[email protected]