Pride and Purpose Through the Power of Work

Goodwill Industries International Names Timothy Zarzecki its 2018 Achiever the Year
Virginia Beach, VA — At age 52, Timothy Zarzecki has found a place — and a purpose — through his job in food services at a military base in Virginia Beach, VA. Born with a physical disability and diagnosed with depression, he was out of work when he connected with Goodwill® at a career fair. The Goodwill team helped place him in a position he loves, and since his first day, he has demonstrated a positive attitude, a willingness to tackle any task and natural leadership ability. For those reasons, Goodwill Industries International is honoring Zarzecki as its 2018 Achiever of the Year.
Zarzecki was born with a congenital condition and is missing his left arm below the elbow. He began his career as an architectural draftsman and designer, but as his job became increasingly stressful, he started having trouble coming to terms with his disability. He felt self-conscious and isolated, and he became so severely depressed that he was eventually hospitalized. He knew he had to make a change in his life, so he moved from Pennsylvania to Virginia Beach and began looking for a new job.
“At the time, I didn’t have any self-esteem,” said Zarzecki. “My confidence was at an all-time rock-bottom level, and all I knew was that I needed to get back to work.”
Palmetto Goodwill (North Charleston, SC) recruited him for a food service contract at a top-secret military facility. He quickly became a jack-of-all-trades there, serving customers, maintaining the dining room, making coffee, washing dishes and working the cash register.
“Tim just comes to work, no questions asked,” said Hurley Waples, project manager with Palmetto Goodwill. “He goes above and beyond with his work ethic and his leadership qualities.”
Zarzecki soon befriended some of the wounded warriors who visited the cafeteria. Like him, some were missing limbs, and he began to feel a real a sense of camaraderie and belonging. He also began to take an active role in a self-advocacy group for Goodwill employees with disabilities.
“Tim is a strong advocate for others with challenges,” said Reginald Hughes, vice president of commercial services at Palmetto Goodwill. “He’s willing to tell his story and speak up for others who are searching for a second chance in life.”
Last year, the Goodwill team helped Zarzecki navigate the process of obtaining a prosthetic arm with a bionic hand through the organization’s health insurance plan. Palmetto Goodwill covered all his out-of-pocket expenses — a total of more than $22,000. After months of occupational therapy, Zarzecki is now able to use the arm for his full work day. He says it has changed him profoundly.
“I’m no longer ashamed to look at myself in the mirror,” he said. “I’ve been given some amazing gifts. I want to be part of seeing others getting the same.”
“Tim’s success at work, his humility, and his commitment to mentoring and supporting his colleagues make him a role model,” said Jim Gibbons, president and CEO of Goodwill Industries International. “He’s an inspiration to all of us, and we commend him for using his voice to uplift and encourage others.”
Zarzecki has shared his story on TV and radio and in speaking engagements.
“I don’t have a red carpet rolled out for me wherever I go, and that’s fine with me. That’s Hollywood; that’s another world,” he said. “My world is a little different. Mine is ramps and handrails and curb cuts. That’s my world, and the world of access for my disabled brothers and sisters. And I’m pretty darn proud of my world.”
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.

Malini Wilkes
Public Relations and Multimedia Manager
Goodwill Industries International
Phone: (240) 333-5523
[email protected]

Palmetto Goodwill is a not-for-profit social service organization whose mission is to help people achieve their full potential through the dignity and power of work. More than 90 percent of Goodwill’s revenue goes to fund mission related services. Palmetto Goodwill serves their mission by providing career counseling, job training, and other employment related programs to people with barriers to employment. Last year, Palmetto Goodwill placed 2,001 people into new jobs and provided 44,000 services to 13,500 unique individuals. For more information about Palmetto Goodwill’s programs and services, please visit or find us on Facebook and Twitter.

Goodwill Industries International (GII) is a network of 162 community-based, autonomous organizations in the United States and Canada with a presence in 12 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 for two consecutive years, 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 3,300 stores collectively and online at®. Local Goodwill organizations build revenues and create jobs by contracting with commercial, state, government and non-government organizations to provide a wide range of business services, including manufacturing, warehousing and distribution, packaging, assembly, food preparation, document management, groundskeeping and administrative. Last year, local Goodwill organizations collectively placed more than 288,000 people in employment in the United States and Canada. In addition, more than 35 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
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