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Goodwill Achievers

Goodwill Industries was founded on the premise of "a hand-up, not a hand out".

People with disabilities and special needs have very diverse potential, face different challenges and have unique aspirations. Some can achieve independence in a few weeks; for others, it may take years.

All Goodwill services are transitional, including those offering paid work experience in our entrepreneurial divisions. Our commitment to transitioning workers at their peak performance through the application of an individualized plan is what makes Goodwill different from traditional schools and employers.

Here is where you will find the stories of the people Goodwill serves. They are the primary reason why Goodwill exists, and the essential factor that drives us daily to continue providing quality job training and opportunities, for those in need. 

Thank you! Your donations and purchases are truly changing lives.

2017 Achievers

Melody Esquilin & Counselors Roxanna Ridgway 
and Dinah Donado

Rolando Ramirez and
Counselor Charlie Moux

Melody Esquilin, 26, lives with her parents in Lauderdale Lakes, Florida. As a child, Ms. Esquilin was diagnosed with learning disabilities as well as Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. While these have been admitted challenges in her life, they have not impeded her success as she maintained employment as a cashier at Ross Dress for Less for ten years. But, Melody wanted more. Her dream was to be in the media industry.

With determination, hard work, guidance and support from her family, she pursued vocational training in media and production. A year later, Ms. Esquilin graduated with a 3.25 GPA and was awarded a television production certificate. Nevertheless, she had difficulty landing a job in her chosen field. She was referred to Goodwill Industries for job placement assistance as she had difficulty with the application process, interviewing and finding employment.

With guidance from her Goodwill Job Placement Specialist and participation in pre-employment coaching she was able to overcome some barriers to employment. Her Job Placement Specialist quickly initiated contacts in her chosen field even though Ms. Esquilin was adamant that she wanted to work at Channel 7 News.

Meanwhile, she and her brother created a YouTube video highlighting her video production skills and abilities and on/off camera techniques. It also helped Ms. Esquilin gain more confidence in her own abilities. The YouTube video was later incorporated as a link on her resume by the Job Placement Specialist so that a prospective employer could view Ms. Esquilin’s abilities before interviewing her. After a year of active job development and networking with different TV channels, Ms. Esquilin secured employment with Channel 7 News in Miami as a film and video editor - her dream job.

Ms. Esquilin, a very talented young lady, gained confidence with interviewing and meeting employers over time and acquired the video editor job. Ms. Esquilin was very grateful and said, “Thank you so much for believing in me and coaching me to be a better person.” She continues to receive ongoing support from a Goodwill job coach to ensure her success on the job. 


Rolando Ramirez, 40, was born in Nicaragua and lives with his father, stepmother and stepsister. Mr. Ramirez completed the 9th grade at Coral Park Senior High School and discontinued his education due to medical problems. He had diagnoses of kidney disorder, spinal problems and Mood Disorder with depressive features.

Mr. Ramirez was referred to Goodwill in March 1999. At the time he had no work experience and enrolled in the custodial vocational training program. After two months he completed the training and was hired as a custodian at the main plant. Mr. Ramirez had a variety of health conditions that affected his attendance and production. These conditions affected his mood and job performance. Nevertheless, Mr. Ramirez persevered and through his strong desire to succeed he mastered the tools of his trade and excelled at his job as a custodian. He was assigned to work in an array of service contracts such as: West Flagler Building, Claude Pepper Federal Building, and Miami-Dade Bus Depot. Mr. Ramirez was then promoted to Lead Worker at the Central Bus Depot. On April 13, 2013 the bus depot contract ceased, and Mr. Ramirez was transferred to the main plant as a floor specialist.

Over the years, Mr. Ramirez has overcome many barriers to employment. His Goodwill counselor provided counseling, guidance and support services to help him improve and maintain emotional stability and improve his social skills and interpersonal relations with co-workers and supervisors.

Counselors also worked closely with Mr. Ramirez’s supervisor and offered job accommodations to facilitate achievement of his goals. On several occasions, Mr. Ramirez was provided advocacy for medical leave and to find accommodations that better fit his medical needs.

Over his 15 years at Goodwill, Mr. Ramirez has invested his time in developing his skills. His manager recognized his growth and dedication to his work and thus Mr. Ramirez was promoted to Custodian Supervisor at the main plant. He is a fine example of how hard work leads to success.

We are extremely proud of Rolando’s perseverance, tenacity and courage to overcome so many obstacles. He is another great success story! We congratulate Rolando on being selected as Goodwill Industries’ Achiever of the Year 2017. 




To continue to help the 460,000 people with disabilities of working age here in South Florida, please consider donating.