Portland, OR, Man’s ‘Can-Do’ Spirit Leads to Personal, Workplace Success

Goodwill Industries International Honors Jim Barnette as 2012 Achiever of the Year
ROCKVILLE, MD — While Jim Barnette may have multiple disabilities including being legally blind and having mild quadriplegia as a result of a cerebral hemorrhage in infancy, he describes himself the way those around him describe him: happy and successful. For his longstanding tenure as a Goodwill® employee and for being a role model for others with disabilities, Barnette has been named Goodwill Industries International’s 2012 Achiever of the Year.
Barnette, 49, first came to Goodwill Industries of the Columbia Willamette (Portland, OR) almost 10 years ago when he needed help finding a job. He originally worked in the Production and Contracts department, but when he got a taste of what it was like to work on the production floor of a retail store, he was hooked and asked to be transferred.
The award winner has a number of duties at the Cedar Hills store, from sorting donations to staffing the dressing rooms to stocking shelves and displaying merchandise, which is his favorite job. “[Goodwill] always let me try new jobs to see what I was able to. They didn’t tell me ‘no’ just because I never did it before,” Barnette said.
Cheri Folk, director of vocational services at the Portland Goodwill, has known Barnette for nine years.  “I think Jim’s key to success is his can-do attitude. He never lets his disability get in the way of being able to do something.”
That same can-do spirit has led Barnette to run three marathons, collect more than 1,300 albums and be part of a choir to nurture his love of music and singing.
“You can’t help but be impressed when you meet Jim Barnette,” said Jim Gibbons, president and CEO of Goodwill Industries International. “Challenges to employment don’t exist in Jim’s world. He demonstrates that meaningful work is something everyone deserves.”
Today, Barnette requires very little supervision on the job. With this new level of independence, his confidence has soared. “Things are really good for me,” continued Barnette. “I have a girlfriend who is perfect for me, I have a job and earn money. I wish I would have found Goodwill sooner.”
Goodwill Industries International’s Achiever of the Year is a person who has shown great progress and accomplishment in overcoming challenges to finding employment, and who still benefits from the Goodwill work environment or receives services to support employment at a community site.