Paul at our 72nd F Wearhouse

Goodwill Industries, Inc.; Learn more: www.goodwillomaha.org

Paul walks 10 to 15 miles a day, five days a week. He’s not training for a walkathon; rather, he’s a production associate at the Goodwill Omaha Wearhouse on 72nd and F streets in Omaha. The Wearhouse is where you’ll find Goodwill Omaha’s last-chance items and overflow furniture. Most items are placed in large blue bins, which Paul and the other production associates wheel from the retail operations center out to the Wearhouse sales floor and switch out at specific intervals throughout the day. Enthusiastic bargain hunters fill their carts with the day’s treasures, which they purchase by the pound (except for furniture).

After high school, Paul became a groundskeeper in AbilityOne, Goodwill Omaha’s federally funded program that provides part-time job opportunities for people with disabilities. Paul held this position for nearly 11 years. In 2019, when Goodwill Wearhouse manager Dakota, who knew Paul and his strong work ethic, heard that the grounds contract was ending, she told him she wanted to hire him. Paul was excited at the opportunity and the chance to learn new things at the Wearhouse.

In Goodwill Omaha’s Retail Operations Center, or, as we affectionately call it, the ROC, Paul is constantly on the move sorting last-chance items into large blue bins, which he wheels to the Wearhouse, and moving palettes of furniture from the ROC to the Wearhouse sales floor. He also salvages items and furniture that are broken, torn and otherwise too damaged to sell in the Wearhouse.

Although he noted, “I’m not outside anymore. I’m used to being outside all the time.” Paul said he’s getting more accustomed to being indoors now and he likes working at the ROC. Dakota is even cross-training him to work in the Wearhouse store, giving Paul a chance to learn the customer service aspect of Goodwill.

Paul said he enjoys his new responsibilities and tasks – as long as he still gets to do his favorite part of his job at the Wearhouse: operating the trash compactor. He animatedly talks of how he relishes the way it smashes everything inside the hopper. And, when the compactor is too full and excess items fall out as the driver empties the hopper, Paul grabs a shovel, scoops everything back inside the hopper and goes about his other tasks, always looking forward to the next time he can run the compactor.