Goodwill Houston’s Moreton Achievement Awards
About the Awards
At this annual event, Goodwill Houston publicly recognizes employees, program participants and graduates for their hard work in overcoming obstacles and celebrates their recent and past accomplishments. Each award recipient receives a plaque of achievement and a monetary gift, which has been generously donated by our award sponsors.
History of the Moreton Achievement Awards
The Moreton Achievement Awards Luncheon began in 1988 following the conclusion of the final Distinguished Citizens Banquet, a community-based dinner event that included Goodwill employees and focused its recognition on outstanding citizens of Houston. The event was held at The Houston Club for many years under the leadership of the late President and CEO of Goodwill, Bill Lufburrow.
Goodwill Houston’s current President and CEO, Steve Lufburrow, along with the late Dr. and Mrs. Robert Moreton, introduced the idea of recognizing Goodwill Houston’s own through an appreciation luncheon.
Even after the loss of Dr. and Mrs. Moreton, the namesake remains and the luncheon continues to grow in depth and breadth with support from the community. Many sponsors make this inspiring event possible, as listed on our sponsor page, to whom Goodwill is indebted. The Goodwill Staff, the Board of Directors, the Foundation Board of Directors, the Board of Trustees and the Business Advisory Council also help to carry this event forward.
Goodwill Houston is privileged to honor its outstanding achievers through the Moreton Achievement Awards. We would also like to acknowledge the hard work and dedication of every single person who is a part of the “Goodwill Family,” who may not be recognized as one of this year’s award recipients.
First, Check Out This Video
Next, Learn More About This Year’s Award Recipients
The Moreton Citizen of the Year Award: This Award is given in memory of Dr. Robert Moreton and underwritten by Texas Capital Bank. This Award honors a Goodwill employee that represents the epitome of performance in overcoming obstacles.
Velvet Black is the Retail Team Lead for Baytown and a mother figure to her entire team. Velvet is a survivor of domestic abuse and drug addiction. After leaving her partner of 12 years, Velvet found herself living in her car and staying on friends’ couch. One day, Velvet walked into Goodwill Houston’s Baytown store looking for clothes for a job interview. The manager mentioned that the store was hiring and that Velvet should apply. She did apply, and was quickly hired. Thanks to Goodwill Houston Velvet has been able to get a houe of her own and gained much-needed financial stability. She credits her Goodwill Family with being her support structure and being there for her through several personal tragedies.
“Velvet is so amazing,” her manager, Amber Gilpin, says, “She has so much spirit and a big heart. She makes our team better and she makes Goodwill better by being here.”
Job Connectionram Achiever of the Year: This award recognizes one of Goodwill Houston’s Job Connection program participants who has overcome disabilities and/or other barriers and challenges to finding and maintaining meaningful employment.
In 2018, Michael Buchanan walked into Goodwill Houston’s River Oaks Job Connection Center, a suitcase in his hand. He had just left a drug treatment center and was recovering from a long-time addiction to Methamphetamine. Michael had started using when he was young and living in Odessa, Texas. He tried to quit twice but relapsed both times after a few months. Today he calls his time as an addict, “a dark abyss.” This resulted in Michael overdosing and coming very close to death. Waking up in the hospital, Michael knew he needed to change. He spent his savings on a one-way bus ticket to Houston to check himself into the Texas House, a rehab facility. He spent five and a half months there, struggling not only with the effects of withdrawal but learning to manage the diabetes he had developed during his time as an addict. After he was released, Michael went straight to Goodwill Houston in hopes that he would be able to find a job. With Goodwill’s help and training, Michael found employment at Jersey Mike’s as a crew member. He was able to afford an apartment with a friend and has kept himself sober for over three years by attending regular AA meetings. Michael has risen through the ranks through hard work and dedication. Today he is a District Manager overseeing three Jersey Mike’s locations. Michael says, “if you have a problem, getting help is a sign of courage – not weakness or failure.” Michael is so grateful for Goodwill Houston because with Goodwill’s help and encouragement, he would not have the support or resources that helped get his life back on track and be a successful, contributing member of society.
Alma Moreton Achievement Award: This award is given in memory of our dear friend, Mrs. Alma Moreton. It is given to a Goodwill employee who has successfully exceeded expectations in all areas of his or her work performance for a sustained period of time and serves as a shining role model to others.
Ashley Carter took an unusual route to the Goodwill Houston Family. Ashley used to work for First Convenience Bank. First Convenience, as some of you may know, is a second chance banker that offers accounts to people who might be turned away by other banks. As a second chance employer, many of the individuals we hire fit into that category. Ashley and her team became a familiar face in our hallways as she signed up our new employees. She did amazing work, convincing some people to open the first bank account they’d had in their entire lives.
While our team got to know and appreciate her, she got to know and appreciate Goodwill Houston. When a position on our HR team opened up, she jumped at the chance! Our HR team will tell you, the decision to hire Ashley was a no-brainer!
In 2020, Ashley was promoted to an HR Business Partner and three months later the COVID-19 pandemic shut down the world. During the pandemic, Ashley supported every facet of our HR Department. Doing not just her own job but ensuring that the work of vacant positions did not get missed. Ashley has shined during her tenure at Goodwill Houston and continues to impress all who work with her. She is a creative-thinker and a problem-solver, always coming up with concepts or alternative solutions, making her an incredible member of our team.
The George Lindahl Family Achievement Award: This award is given to a Goodwill Houston employee who has shown excellent progress in overcoming obstacles and serves as a role model for others in carrying out job duties and gaining life skills.
Brenda Garcia is a US Citizen thanks to Goodwill Houston. Brenda came to the United States on a work visa from Mexico five (5) years ago and moved to Houston looking for a steady job. Speaking limited English and still adapting to being in a new country, it was difficult for Brenda to find the work she needed so she could stay in the United States. In early 2017, Brenda joined Goodwill Houston as a Donation Specialist. It was clear from the beginning that she is not only an incredible problem solver, but she also takes the time to make people feel strong, capable, and committed. She rose through the ranks, improved her English skills, and in the process applied for and received citizenship. Today, Brenda is an Attended Donation Center Supervisor overseeing 42 Donation Centers and dozens of Team Members. Brenda is an example of how no challenge is too great to overcome. Her supervisor, Jasmine Carey, says “she believes in me and makes me in believe in me”.
George Lindahl Family Spirit Award – This award is given to someone who exemplifies the team spirit of “winning” and a “can – do” attitude against the odds
Sharonda Maxey worked for a grocery chain for nine years but was constantly overlooked and left behind by management. As a single mom, she wanted to build a successful career to provide for her family. Finally, passed over for one too many promotions, she resigned. Soon after, she found Goodwill Houston. Sharonda thrives as a mentor. She is always seeking out that determined team member that she can coach and guide to get to the next level. As a store manager, Sharonda knows that a strong store comes from a strong team. Her supervisor, David Braddon, says, “Sharonda really wants to pay it forward for all of the mentors she has had here at Goodwill Houston. I am so proud to have her on my team.”
Goodwill Achiever of the Year Award – One Goodwill employee will be awarded annually for the exemplary performance, outstanding attendance, positive attitude, and efforts overcoming challenges presented by their disability or disabilities.
When Tyler Pero graduated High School in 2018, he dreamed of going into the military. He wanted to serve his country while making enough to financially support his mother. Tyler grew up in a family that struggled financially with a working, single mother – who taught him the value of hard work. During the enlistment process, Tyler did not get a high enough score to qualify for the job he wanted. For those of you that don’t know, these tests are like the SAT of the military – they determine what jobs and roles you can attain. Tyler was heartbroken but decided to put his service on hold, get a job, and study for the tests again. Not long after, he walked into the Goodwill store at Katy Ranch and asked the manager if they were hiring. He filled out an application and the manager was so impressed that he was hired on the spot. Tyler started with Goodwill Houston as a floor attendant and because of his hard work, dedication, and motivation, he was promoted to a Donation Specialist the following year. Tyler is a team player and always asks questions for clarity and understanding. He is always willing to do whatever is asked of him and so much more. His Store Manager, Tiffany Hypolite, said she “wishes she had a store full of “Tyler’s” because he always puts in 110% no matter what”. Tyler plans to use the money from this award to help his mom and still plans to pursue his dreams of entering the military.
The Smiling “G” Performance award: This Award recognizes an employee who embodies the essence of joy through the power of work.
Jacob Garcia’s uncle loves Goodwill Houston and encouraged his nephew to apply for a job at the Atascocita store. Jacob was a shy kid with low self-esteem who went out of his way to try and not be a bother to others. His uncle was worried that if he didn’t get a job where he could build some confidence, that Jacob would never realize his true character. Goodwill Houston gave Jacob a chance, and it didn’t take long before his true colors began to shine. He has gained a new confidence and learned to give excellent customer service. When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, that meant that our stores could only operate with limited staff, Jacob was the only Donation Specialist handling hundreds of donors. Jacob took on this challenge with a smile. Jacob knows his job down to every detail, he’s never late, and he goes above and beyond in his job every day. Jacob says, “I want to change the world; Goodwill Houston has helped me organize my life and given me the skills to succeed.”