Colorado Springs, CO. – April 23, 2019 – Discover Goodwill’s April 17 Annual Dinner, sponsored by ANB Bank and hosted at The Broadmoor, was both attendee- and emotion-packed. This year’s theme: ‘Our Mission: Independence’ underscored the invaluable role that every shopper, donor, sponsor, community partner, employee and other stakeholders achieved to complete the picture of independence for over 76,000 disadvantaged individuals in 2018.
Discover Goodwill President and CEO Karla Grazier began the program by comparing Goodwill’s mission to a puzzle. “Sometimes it is hard to understand the Goodwill puzzle; it has so many pieces,” said Grazier. “One phrase that puts it all together for me is this: ‘Goodwill helps transform the impossible into the possible.’” Grazier then shared about the nonprofit’s profound community impact during the past year—including 5,680 individuals who became more independent through the power of work while bolstering the local economy by over $445 million.
The evening’s picture-perfect theme was brought into full focus during the award ceremony celebrating the past challenges and ultimate triumphs of four distraught but determined individuals, who sought out Discover Goodwill to help place them on the path to independence. These honorees included:
2018 Community Employee of the Year Mellowny Becton (Sponsored by Haynes Mechanical):
It’s no wonder that Mellowny’s name encompasses the word “mellow”—a fitting description of the thirty-six-year-old’s positive attitude and easy-going nature despite her life-long struggle with multiple developmental challenges. During her childhood, Mellowny was bullied and ostracized by her peers but she found a way to channel her frustration by embracing her unique qualities and making friends with others who were also labeled “different.”
Mellowny started working for Discover Goodwill’s janitorial services at the U.S. Air Force Academy in 2016, and her attention to detail and willingness to learn new tasks helped her thrive on the job, whether dutifully cleaning stairwells or spraying down showers with her favorite tool of the trade: the shower machine. Off the clock, Mellowny is an accomplished, award-winning artist who has displayed and sold numerous pieces at art exhibits. She also cherishes time with her friends and roommates, and never shies away from a good cup of coffee with accompanying sweets.
Since joining Discover Goodwill, Mellowny has enjoyed a “clean sweep” of her own—including a fulfilling job, her own home, a new car and greater independence in life.
2018 Independence Award Honoree Larry Langston (Sponsored by Ent Credit Union):
Larry’s life-long achievements include a 36-year-long marriage, 20 years of military service and 16 years working in a highly specialized and classified work environment at NORAD. Despite his stellar military record and impressive professional portfolio, Larry’s life took an unexpected turn when he was laid off from his job due to one lacking credential: Security+ certification.
Suddenly, Larry transitioned from a tenured, national defense contractor to a pizza delivery driver. But the 57-year-old’s demotion to a minimum wage worker seemed like a minor setback compared to his bout with cancer, which he thankfully overcame. Then Larry’s dad passed away, followed by his mother. Still determined to succeed in the midst of his despair, Larry learned about Discover Goodwill’s LIFT IT training program, which offered Security+ certification, along with hands-on teaching and job placement support. The quick-witted, fifty-plus student not only soaked up the knowledge offered by his trainers, he mentored other classmates.
Since completing the LIFT program, Larry has vastly expanded his professional network and career prospects in the IT field. Larry entered through Discover Goodwill’s doors seeking job security but received even more—namely, Security+, setting him on course for a promising future.
2018 Achiever of the Year Ryan Bowlds (Sponsored by Dona Hildebrand):
Twenty-seven-year-old Ryan is an incredibly gifted and tender-hearted young man that has attended Discover Goodwill’s Possibilities program since 2016. Prior to that, Ryan’s life was lonely and isolated due to Asperger’s, a developmental disorder diagnosed early in his childhood. During his school years, Ryan’s condition caused even greater anxiety as crowded classrooms and unfamiliar surroundings overwhelmed him.
Raised by his grandmother from birth, Ryan considered her “mom” until her passing. As a young adult, the broken but determined young man wanted to honor her decades of care and encouragement by achieving greater personal independence. At Possibilities, Ryan has thrived as he learns new skills and is particularly fond of the art center and gym. For Ryan, art is more than an activity; it is a way to express his thoughts and emotions.
One day, Ryan hopes to live independently with a family of his own and open up his own retro gaming store. In the meantime, he embraces each day as a new learning and growing opportunity—as illustrated by his new job at a pet store, where he cleans, stock shelves and enjoys holding little creatures that in his own words: “Help bring light and hope into the world.”
2018 Helms Legacy Honoree Angel Green (Sponsored by GE Johnson Construction Company):
For most of her life, Angel has been on a carousel of destructive relationships leading to bad choices with tragic consequences. Growing up, Angel’s parents were both alcoholics, but her father’s chronic abuse of alcohol led to physical and emotional abuse in the home, primarily directed at her mom, resulting in countless broken bones and a shattered childhood for Angel and her five siblings.
A single mother since the age of 23, Angel fell into a similar cycle of destructive relationships with men, which eventually led her down a dark path of drug addiction and dealing to support her habit—resulting in multiple felony charges and the unfathomable thought of losing her children. Angel’s final wake-up calls were her fourth pregnancy and mother’s passing.
In 2010, Angel was referred to Discover Goodwill’s Employment First program and volunteered at a retail center. After securing full-time employment, Angel suffered more loss—the deaths of her father and beloved brother. With the support of her extended Discover Goodwill family, Angel persevered. Throughout her tenure with Discover Goodwill, Angel’s thirst for knowledge and drive for excellence, known as the “Angel Factor,” have placed her on the road to success and the 41-year-old is now an accomplished retail assistant manager. Since 2015, Angel has celebrated two additions to her growing family: an adoring husband and their new baby boy.
Additional business and individual honorees recognized on stage are referenced below:
2019 Guiding Light Award* Honorees: Bart and Cathy Holaday
(*Sponsored by ANB Bank)
2018 Extending Goodwill Awards:
The Salvation Army
Colorado Springs Utilities
Lexus of Colorado Springs
2018 Discover Goodwill Award: GE Johnson Construction Company