5/5/12 — 2011 Goodwill Honorees
Congratulations to Amy Landgraf, 2011Graduate of the Year honoree
Amy Landgraf had no home, no job and an uncertain future when she was released from prison after serving time for embezzlement. One of her first steps toward independence was turning to the Goodwill Inn. Continue reading or view video
“Together with support from the staff at the Goodwill Inn, my parole agent and the Michigan Prisoner Reentry program I was able to begin to carve out a new life for myself,” says Amy. “The next step was being hired at the Goodwill Store. I remember the interview, and Joyce Zagunis, the store manager, saying to me “I need you to tell me why I should give you this job.” I finally said, “I need someone to give me a chance. It was a very big deal getting the job after being incarcerated.”
In her quest to become stable enough to have her own place, Amy also worked a second job for a year and a half. Not content to just work, she stepped out of her comfort zone and took on a new job in the Goodwill E-Commerce Department. “I had to learn computer and photography skills,” explained Amy. “It gave me a boost of confidence that I probably would not have gotten if I stayed in my old position. It gave me a feeling that I know I can achieve more, and I can do more. It has been a big force in my life.”
Annette Goodyear, Goodwill Inn Case Manager said, “what impressed me right from the start was Amy’s motivation and dedication to start rebuilding her life. She faced challenges with many obstacles that a lot of people would not want to face. Amy went right toward those and accomplished them faster than anyone I have ever seen.”
With Goodwill’s help, Amy has found a way to rebuild her life. “Goodwill was able to help me use all the resources at my disposal that could possibly help me. That is what I will forever be grateful for,” explains Amy. “The support network that Goodwill laid down that I could utilize, has led to better choices.”
“Amy has grown and become an empowered person, and very strong,” said Annette. “I think she knows what she wants in life, and I have no doubt, she will accomplish those things. She is very deserving of the Graduate of the Year Award”.
Amy added, “I thank the Goodwill family for everything they have done for me…for all the structure in front of me that has helped me go from homeless to my fabulous apartment and helping me get my life back on track.”
Congratulations to Dann McCarthy, Achiever of the Year honoree.
Camping by a stream in a beautiful wooded area was not a weekend adventure for Dann McCarthy; it was a way of life. Dann, our Achiever of the Year, had become homeless, after caring for a terminally ill relative in St. Louis and suffering a bi-polar pulmonary embolism.
Dann said, “I turned to the Goodwill Inn, but it was not very conducive to my lifestyle at the time because I was drinking heavily. I decided to pitch a tent and live without any basic means.” Looking back Dann explains, “it was a content time in my life…content but definitely not happy. It was not a very intelligent way to live, but since I had no money…no job…I had no responsibilities except to care for the space I was living in.”
Life for Dann dramatically changed when a mild February day turned snow to slush. At the end of the day Dann’s boots were wet and the temperature dropped to 8 degrees. During the night, his feet froze. With incredible strength, Dann crawled through the woods to the Department of Human Services, where he got assistance and was taken to the hospital. All ten toes were frost bitten, un-savable and had to be amputated.
“I went from the hospital to Grand Traverse Pavilions for rehabilitation. The people were amazing that took care of me, not only physically but emotionally,” said Dann recalling this life-changing time. “I realized that if these people care so much about me, why do I not care so much about myself? That was an awakening for me.”
Ryan Hannon, Street Outreach coordinator said, “I have worked with Dann since he was living on the streets. I am impressed with Dann. Not only is he now living independently, but he has the willingness and ability to come back and serve as a volunteer helping other people experiencing homelessness. He volunteers at a number of places, including Safe Harbor and the Pavilions and does it with a happy heart. He shows people, there is a way out…they don’t have to be trapped in homelessness.”
As Dann, recovers and regains his strength and independence, he explains, “I continue to do things to
improve my life, and I do the best I can to help others.” His main goal moving forward is to find an opportunity to utilize his degrees in Fine Arts and Technology, Theatre Production, massage therapy or find work as a chef.
Ryan added, “I believe that Dann will continue to succeed because of his enormous strength and endurance. He has achieved so much and will continue to do so as he becomes more independent. I can’t think of anyone more deserving of being the Achiever of the Year.”