Goodwill Overcome: Our 2021 Power of Work Awards Banquet

March 18, 2021, Goodwill Industries – Big Bend, Inc. (GIBB) held our Annual Meeting and Power of Work Awards Banquet, a time to gather (safely!) and celebrate the previous year, but also a look ahead to the next year.

In 2020, GIBB served almost 10,000 people through our programs and services, which would not have been possible without our strong community of donors, shoppers, employees, volunteers, and partners. At our Annual Meeting, we were pleased to give recognition to those who exemplify our mission. We recognize the following award winners for their success in 2020.

Graduate of the Year: Mary Strickland

After struggling with anxiety and depression throughout her post-high school life, Mary Strickland lost her father to the very demons she struggles with. A dark year followed where Mary lacked motivation and direction. In 2017, Mary learned about the Goodwill Career Campus and began training as a home health aide. Mary is now working towards her Bachelor of Science in Nursing.

Achiever of the Year: Constantine “Gus” Galoosis

Constantine “Gus” Galoosis comes from a diverse military background growing up that consists of achievements like being a member of the Boy Scouts and playing first base until he was 19 to swimming the Bosphorus Strait, which connects Asia to Europe. After moving to Niceville to be with his parents, Gus came to Goodwill to take classes at our Career Center. He now is the Donation Attendant in the Valparaiso store, and customers and staff alike love him.

GIBB Employee of Distinction Award: Margaret Thomas

Margaret Thomas is a very long-term employee who deserves to be recognized for her hard work and dedication. Margaret goes the extra mile to help staff members, employees, and managers with their questions and problems. She is dedicated to always providing excellent training resources for all our team and can always be counted on to come through with outstanding service and attitude.

The Learning Pavilion Award: Emilie Fernandez

Emilie Fernandez has served at The Learning Pavilion for 5 years as Lead Teacher, Administrative Assistant, and mentor to other teachers in the school. She is well respected for her ability to provide a consistent and developmentally appropriate learning environment. She is also known for her extraordinary capacity to make connections with those students who some may find challenging to have in a classroom either because of a social-emotional delay or special need. Emilie Fernandez is a well-rounded professional whose potential for leadership in our community is superior.

Mission Partner of the Year: FSU’s Center for the Study and Promotion of Communities, Families, and Children

FSU’s Center for the Study and Promotion of Communities, Families, and Children began providing program services in two VPK classrooms at The Learning Pavilion. By strengthening the resiliency of pre-kindergarteners, the expected impact is to improve their ability to cope with, adapt to, and even prevent adversity and its negative outcomes on their lives, both short and long-term. Their capacity and expertise at providing high-quality services over time will raise community standards for future years of VPK students, naturally improving student learning outcomes. To learn more, visit FSU’s Center for the Study and Promotion of Communities, Families, and Children Website.

Mission Partner of the Year: BowStern


While almost every business was being impacted by COVID-19 and the shutdown, BowStern doubled up when we were struggling to help employees who were being impacted and deal with the shutdown. They continued full speed ahead au gratis when we were closed, committed to continuing for as long as it took, and worked tenaciously to get us up and running again. They love the Goodwill mission, their staff shops our stores, and they exhibit the Goodwill core values of respect, innovation, and stewardship.

Volunteer of the Year Award: Susan Zecchini


Susan Zecchini first came to Goodwill to take classes, while she was also considering going back into the workforce. Susan loved helping in the Career Training Center and helping others, so she began to volunteer. She joined the AmeriCorps program and has been volunteering for three years. She has given countless volunteer hours to training, proctoring, holding workshops, and attending outreach and job fairs to promote Goodwill services along with fostering many partnerships for our programs. She has done all this with a smile and no complaints.

None of this would be possible without our retail stores. These stores provide support our missions and services, and they give us the ability to create jobs for members of the community who are overcoming barriers to employment. This past year $0.86 of every dollar spent at our retail stores went to fund our mission-related programs. For this reason, we continue to celebrate strides made in our retail stores with awards in various categories:

Retail Store Awards

Largest Dollar Increase Over Prior Year – Crestview Team

$91,025 Increase

Largest Percent Increase Over Prior Year – Betton Bookstore

12.85% Increase

Sales Increase Over Prior Year – E-Commerce

27.06% or $339,637 Increase

How can you help support Goodwill’s mission? It begins with donating your gently used items. The items that you no longer need or use create jobs, learning opportunities, housing, and so much more for people all over the Big Bend region. If you don’t have any items to donate, you can shop at our retail stores, where 86 cents of every dollar sold is reinvested into our community through programs provided at no cost to participants in the Big Bend area.

To learn more about Goodwill’s mission, and what we accomplished in 2020, check out our Annual Report.

2020 Annual Report