ONALASKA, WI (WXOW)—When you think about Goodwill, often times you think of a thrift store, but it's also a work training center.
The School to Work program at Goodwill helps train high school students with disabilities for the workplace.
Katie Lowenstein has spent the last five years getting hands on training in job skills at Good Will; when she was in high school she was in the School to Work program but has since graduated.
"Katie is the highlight of most of our days," Paula Egge, Goodwill Store Team Leader said.
"I do a good job man," Katie said.
"Originally when she started she was very quiet in the sense she was worried about not being able to do the job," Egge said.
But now, she has come out of her shell and she knows a lot of the customers.
"They actually call her by name," Egge said "They actually look for her, so she's very much a social person. They look forward to greeting her everyday when they come to shop."
Each day Katie walks through the doors to come to work she says "Today is the best day of my life!"
"It's very contagious it makes the work environment very upbeat and she's definitely a valuable asset to our organization," Egge said.
The program has helped Katie learn to stay focused on the task she's given.
One of her jobs is to search the racks for:
"Pink dude," Katie said.
Clothes with pink tags have been on the rack the longest so it's time to put them on clearance.
Katie works independently in the store and her job coach occasionally checks in.
"It's a learn as you go environment so we try thing to help her grow as a team member," Egge said.
Katie said she's learned a lot over the years.
"She (my job coach) taught me a lot of things like doing moves, stuff like that," Katie said.
Skills that will eventually help here get her next job.
The school to work program that helped train Katie is funded by donations.
Goodwill of North Central Wisconsin and News 19 are teaming up for a donation drive designed to benefit our local community from September 7-9.
Donations are accepted during regular business hours.
Our goal is to get 50 thousand pounds of donations.
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