If you sit down and have a conversation with Jabbar Muhammad, you’ll have a hard time believing that he has a shy bone in his body.
Muhammad was 20 years old when he was first referred to Goodwill of Central Arizona by the state’s Department of Developmental Disabilities. He was described as shy and quiet, unsure of himself, yet very polite. However, Muhammad had the desire to learn work skills so he could one day help provide for his family.
Muhammad was enrolled in Goodwill of Central Arizona’s sheltered employment program in 2005. Known as the Workforce Adjustment Training Program – the program helps individuals to prepare for competitive employment with strong emphasis on building soft skills – such as communication, collaboration and being punctual. Goodwill of Central Arizona staff members also teach participants how to process donated items in our stores under the direction of retail store employees and a job coaches in a team environment. Muhammad worked hard over a two-year period to overcome his barriers and increase his employability.
In August 2007, Jabbar decided to enroll in the Janitorial Training Program at Goodwill’s Main Service Campus in Phoenix. Muhammad learned how to clean private offices, cubicles, restrooms, indoor and outdoor public areas as well as floor care, proper chemical usage and safely working independently throughout the day. Muhammad quickly became a standout performer.
In May 2008, Arizona’s Vocational Rehabilitation Department authorized Goodwill to assist Muhammad in finding a job out in “the real world.” In the Job Development and Placement Program, Muhammad’s employment specialist taught him job searching skills, interview preparation, filling out applications, resume building, transportation to interviews and making follow up phone calls.
Eventually, a janitorial position opened in Goodwill’s Commercial Services Division at the United States Courthouse Federal Building in downtown Phoenix. According to his supervisor, Robert Steinbach, Muhammad is doing great, earns almost $12 per hour and he works 25 hours per week.
The 25-year-old janitor employed with Goodwill of Central Arizona’s Commercial Services department enjoys his job and his co-workers.
“Working with Goodwill is a pretty good experience,” said Muhammad. “I feel good about finishing my tasks every day and I like meeting new people.”
Steinbach said Muhammad was “shy at first but we’re really fortunate to have him. He has a good time chatting his co-workers.”
Muhammad is also enrolled as a student at South Mountain Community College and eventually wants to earn his bachelor’s degree. Muhammad continues to receive Supportive Employment Services while working with Goodwill.
Muhammad said he’s not quite sure what he ultimately wants to do professionally but he said he likes to draw and read.
With the progress he is making by learning real-world skills through his work with Commercial Services, it’s a sure bet that Muhammad won’t shy away from any challenges that stand in his way.