Neil set a goal of learning his job at Panera and performing his duties on his own without any help from his job coach. Initially, Neil was somewhat hesitant to make choices or decisions on his own on how to progress through his work shift, but he learned to use a task list and how to adhere to a work routine. Neil also had serious reservations about communicating with people who might be less-than-familiar to him. For example, many of his co-workers and supervisors at the restaurant are part time workers who Neil may only encounter from time to time. Also, nearly all of the customers with whom Neil would need to interact are people he has never met. This made Neil very hesitant to engage in either conversation or communicate needs or questions.

Neil worked VERY hard to find the courage to talk to new people and this was a major turning point for him in being able to work on his own. Once he was able to find his own answers from his managers and co-workers, his job coach became much less needed, and eventually, he was able to simply work on his own with only the natural supports of his co-workers.

Neil's incredible progress acquiring the skills needed to work independently is why he was selected by Goodwill as the 2018 Edgar Townsend Achiever Winner.


Rachel has improved her mental health and coping abilities. Rachel has learned to cope with stressors in a healthy manner with support from staff in Supported Community Living and through STEPPS class, DBT, Stairways and individual therapy. In the past, Rachel struggled with self-harm behaviors and has had multiple suicide attempts, both common symptoms of her diagnosis. Rachel is a survivor of a nearly fatal suicide attempt in 2016 and has since then focused on learning about her diagnosis and has taken a very active role in improving her mental health and is functioning at a level that she didn’t think would be possible.

Rachel works very hard on improving her health every day and as a result has become more independent, is able to solve problems more independently and manage stressors and crisis’s she experiences. Rachel is brave and although she can be shy at times, she wants to help end the stigma surrounding mental illness. She wants people to understand that having a mental illness should be nothing to be ashamed of-- it does not discriminate and can affect anyone regardless of age, gender, geography, income, social status, race/ethnicity, religion/spirituality, sexual orientation, background or other aspect of cultural identity.

She hopes that sharing her story will encourage others to talk about mental illness just as you would any other physical illness and seek treatment and help as she has. Rachel also struggles with chronic pain as she was in a car accident. This limits her ability to work full time as she would like to, however Rachel continues to substitute teach on a part time basis and has a degree in elementary and early childhood education. Rachel is currently working towards being able to self-advocate, and being able to say no when she does not want to do something.

Because Rachel has made incredible strides towards living independently, she was selected by Goodwill as the recipient of the 2018 Edgar Supported Community Living Achiever of the Year award.



Robert had not worked for several years. He has a medical condition that required accommodations by an employer. Robert needed support to seek those accommodations so he could be successful in his employment. Robert also has a criminal background from a charge in 2013 that could have made him ineligible for employment at many businesses.

Robert was interested in working close to his apartment due to health concerns and relying on the bus system for transportation. Robert conveniently lives near the Lantern Park Hy-Vee in Coralville and expressed interest in working there.

Robert was offered a part-time position as a Courtesy Clerk that began in January 2018. He received great feedback from the front end manager regarding his friendly smile and his great customer interactions. His hard work did not go unnoticed by coworkers and customers alike. He continued as a Courtesy Clerk until the head of the store’s meat department approached Robert in April about working for him. The HR manager arranged for Robert to shadow the meat department for a shift and was willing to adjust the schedule to fit Robert’s needs. Robert was thrilled for the opportunity to work in the meat department and officially switched to the new position in May 2018. In July Robert was voted employee of the month.

Given the incredible strides Robert made towards finding and maintaining employment, Goodwill selected him as the recipient of the 2018 Edgar Employment Achiever Award winner.


Adam used to have difficulties finding the right words to start a conversation or ask questions. He seldom provided information about himself to continue a conversation. Sometimes he would start in the middle of his thought, or would get nervous and say a part of his thought that others didn’t have context to, so there’d be misunderstanding. Now Adam almost always remembers to get someone’s attention by using their name first, and then starting his thought at the beginning so they can reply with confidence and understanding.

In daily living Adam would sometimes feel some anxiety and would either act too quickly, or wouldn’t complete a task/action thoroughly because of going too fast or not maintaining the focus needed to meet expectations for independence. Skills such as starting at the beginning and taking each step one at a time in order until completion is important for many areas of life. Adam has worked hard to focus on each step of a task in order. Now he stops to ask a question or confirm that he’s on the right track.

Adam's tremendous improvement in acquiring the skills he needs for daily living and social interactions are just a few of the reasons he was selected as the 2018 Day Habilitation Achievement Award winner.

Jennifer, 2018 Edgar Trainee Achiever Winner


When Jennifer first came to Goodwill, she lacked confidence in herself and had other barriers making it difficult for her to socialize with others.

Jennifer became an employee at the Rock Island Goodwill store after completing Goodwill's Retail Certification Training program. As a Retail Associate, she has learned cash register skills, how to sort, tag, hang clothing and give great customer service.

Now, she is considered one of the store's greatest assets by always having a smile and infectious positive attitude. Over the past year, she has mastered every aspect of her job and has earned a reputation of being extremely knowledgeable about the store.

Thanks to her incredible accomplishments over the past year, Jennifer was selected as the winner of the 2018 Edgar Trainee Achiever Award.