Goodwill Helps Veterans Find Employment

1:59 PM, Nov 13, 2011   |    comments
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BUFFALO, N.Y. - Allen Wylie says he likes to work and keep busy. And it's certainly hard to keep track of Wylie when he's at work, because he's constantly moving. However, just a few months ago, Wylie, like millions of other Americans, found himself no longer on the go.

"I was dealing with senior citizens, picking them up and dropping them off," said Wylie. "But they lost the funding, so I lost my job."

Eager to work again, he stopped by the Veteran Stand Down at the Connecticut Street Armory in May, organized by the Department of Veterans Affairs. The event was designed to help make it easier for veterans to take advantage of benefits afforded to them. There, Wylie got in touch with someone representing the veteran employment program at Goodwill Industries of Western New York. Before long, he was sitting in Job Developer Barbara Gruppo's office.

"He was open to most any job," said Gruppo, but as it turned out, the job that was open was right at Goodwill's William Street location. Soon Wylie was driving a truck for the donation center.

"They asked me if I wanted to have the opportunity to work at Goodwill, and I told them, yeah, I need a job," said Wylie. "Because there are a lot of people out there that's not working."

Allen is one of about eighteen veterans Goodwill has helped find employment this past month; about a third of those were homeless. Program Manager Mark LaHood says his office tries to help as many veterans as they can, a goal being at least half. Many face challenges, like mental health issues and substance abuse, but many of them are just victims of the down economy.

"When we can place someone who just for any number of just random circumstances ended up on the streets and we can find that person a job and get that person on their feet, then that's very rewarding," said LaHood.

For Allen Wylie, the reward was in getting moving again.

"I was really fortunate because at the time, I was ready to go get unemployment, but instead of getting unemployment I got hired here," said Wylie. "And that kind of like, it was perfect."

For more information on Goodwill of WNY's veteran employment programs, click here.

Goodwill is a partial sponsor of a veteran's parade Saturday in Delaware Park. The event runs from 11 a.m. To 4 p.m., and there will be music and entertainment afterwards.

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