Acquired Brain Injury Doesn't Stop Young Maryland Woman from Career Success

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Goodwill Industries International honors Joanna McVicker as 2012 Graduate of the Year.

Graduate of the Year for her unwavering work ethic and desire to make a difference in others’ lives.

McVicker sustained a brain injury as a child that affects her cognitive functioning. With the help of the Acquired Brain Injury (ABI) program at Goodwill Industries of Monocacy Valley (Frederick, MD), she learned strategies to be more effective in her work and personal life.

“An instructor with a brain injury teaches the program,” said McVicker. “She understood my issues because she lives with the same things that I struggle with.”

With the help and encouragement she received at Goodwill®, McVicker earned a job at the Frederick Visitors Center where she organizes mailings, restocks brochures and answers vistors’ questions. A lifelong resident of the area, McVicker says she enjoys promoting activities in and around the city.

“For the first time, I feel empowered in my life,” she says. “Some people thought I would never be able to graduate from school or get good grades like the A's and B's on my report card and go to college. I’ve proved them wrong.”

Her supervisor and co-workers feel lucky to have McVicker on staff. Robyn Hildebrand, manager at the center, said, “When Joanna comes to work, we never think, ‘Here comes our Goodwill trainee employee.’ We think ‘Oh, good! Joanna’s here and we need her to fulfill these 80 mailings that must go out.’”

Her current job is just the beginning. McVicker’s dream is to one day work with the elderly. To that end, she volunteers at an assisted living facility and is studying gerontology at her local community college.

“Disabilities like Joanna’s are often invisible to the public. She proves to others with similar disabilities that there are ways to be successful in the workplace,” said Jim Gibbons, president and CEO of Goodwill Industries International. “We look forward to having Joanna serve as an ambassador of Goodwill’s mission.”

Goodwill Industries International’s Kenneth Shaw Graduate of the Year Award honors an outstanding person for completing a Goodwill Industries® career program and becoming competitively employed by a non-Goodwill employer in the community. The award was renamed in 2008 to honor the late Kenneth Shaw’s significant contributions to the Goodwill enterprise over a four-decade period.

CONTACT: Lauren Lawson-Zilai
Director, Public Relations
Goodwill Industries International
Phone: (240) 333-5266

Goodwill Industries International is a network of 165 community-based, independent agencies in the United States and Canada along with 14 affiliates in 13 other countries. Goodwill agencies are innovative and sustainable social enterprises that fund job training programs, employment placement services and other community-based programs by selling donated clothing and household items in more than 2,600 stores and online at Local Goodwill agencies also build revenue and create jobs by contracting with businesses and government to provide a wide range of commercial services, including packaging and assembly, food service preparation, and document imaging and shredding. In 2011, more than 4 million people in the United States and Canada benefited from Goodwill's career services. Goodwill channels 82 percent of its revenues directly into its programs and services. To find your local Goodwill, use the online locator at or call (800) GOODWILL. Follow us on Twitter: @GoodwillIntl or find us on Facebook: GoodwillIntl.

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Lauren Lawson-Zilai
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