LUFKIN, TX (KTRE) - Representatives from the Goodwill of Central East Texas recently went to Washington, D.C. for an annual Goodwill International conference, and they came back with an award.
The East Texas News learned Lufkin's Goodwill was one of three Goodwills in the nation to receive the Family Strengthening Center of Excellence Award.
YouthBuild Program Director Nikki Roberts said, "It's a big deal. It's a huge deal because, like I mentioned, there were only three given away."
The excellence award is recognizing the agency for offering programs and classes that help individuals gain financial stability.
"They feel as though we have perfected the method on how to provide these services to our community and to our clients and our employees as well," Roberts said.
Leadership at Lufkin's Goodwill believe their YouthBuild program played a big role in the agency achieving the award.
"There's only a few Goodwills who have YouthBuild programs in their agencies, and so for us, because we intentionally integrated that financial education piece into our YouthBuild program, I really think that's what put us over the top," Roberts said.
Christian Perez graduated from the program, and he was invited to go to D.C. and share his success story with Goodwill and U.S. leadership.
"I got to talk to a lot of senators. I got to meet with them, talk with them about the Goodwill YouthBuild what it's done for me and what it's doing for other people and the community," Perez said.
It was Perez's first time on a plane and his first time to wear a suit. It was also the first time he stood up in front of hundreds of people and shared his story.
"I was doing nothing but bad. Look at my record, and it'll show for itself, and now I'm doing nothing but good helping out my community as much as I can," Perez said.
Perez said he shared his story so that everyone could see how powerful the YouthBuild program is and to see where their money is going.
"I'm drug free. I have a job, and I've kept it for more than six months, so I'm doing real good now. I don't have to worry about the cops coming to my house," Perez said.
Goodwill's YouthBuild program accepts applications all year round. Goodwill also offers a variety of financial education class for free.