Woman Who Sought Goodwill's Help Now Helps Others in Her Shoes

Portland, OR — In 2008, Bernice Jepson approached Goodwill Industries of the Columbia Willamette for help in finding a job. She was 54 and struggling with the emotional repercussions resulting from abuse she experienced as a child. Immediately, the staff at Goodwill Industries® saw something special in Jepson and knew she had the potential to work at Goodwill®. For her commitment to helping people with disabilities and workplace challenges, Jepson has been honored with Goodwill Industries International’s 2011 Edgar J. Helms Award for Graduate Staff.
Jepson was first hired as an intake specialist for the Goodwill’s Job Connection Program, and she now works for the agency’s Long-Term Services Program. In her role in Production and Contracts, she trains participants with developmental disabilities who perform contract work for external and internal employers. She also works closely with participants on social activities like crafts, puzzles, music and drama to increase their mental and motor skills.
“She has a deep desire to help others and is always willing to share her knowledge and experience,” said Michael Miller, president and CEO of Goodwill Industries of the Columbia Willamette. “We knew she could make a real difference in the lives of those Goodwill serves.”
Outside of Goodwill, Jepson works with community agencies through a job readiness program that she developed. She works with individuals about to be released from prison and veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan.
“Time and time again, people turn to Goodwill when others have told them they are not qualified to be part of the work world,” said Jim Gibbons, president and CEO of Goodwill Industries International. “Bernice serves as an inspiration as she spreads Goodwill’s message that everyone has the right to meaningful work.”
Jepson received her award during Goodwill’s annual Delegate Assembly meeting in Rochester, NY, on June 26.