Goodwill Works: Meet Gunnar Williams

Gunnar doesn't know how to read. You wouldn't know this if he didn't tell you; he's a smart and personable young man who enjoys video games and dreams of traveling around the world. He's just an average guy who never learned to read while in the school system. "I just listen," he said. "I watch more. If I'm with someone, I usually listen to what they say to figure it out."

At 21 years old, Gunnar has decided that now is better than never. "It's the only thing holding me back," he said. "What else is there to do? You're not going to get anywhere if you don't learn." 

 While most of Gunnar's work at Goodwill is computer-based, he also uses flash cards to test his reading skills.

While most of Gunnar's work at Goodwill is computer-based, he also uses flash cards to test his reading skills.

He enrolled in the Oak Ridge Goodwill's Work Keys program, a course designed to teach remedial skills in a self-paced computer environment. Though he has only been in the program for a short time, Gunnar has seen a lot of progress. 

"I could really only read small words," he said, reflecting on when he joined the program. "I'm starting to get better.  The more I work on it, the more I get better."

"He is really doing well with being able to read full sentences, where a couple months ago he could not read a short sentence of three words without stumbling," said Goodwill Employment Training and Rehabilitation Coordinator Margaret Tinker. Gunnar has shared his success with Margaret, prideful that he is able to identify more words while in public.

Gunnar has a goal in mind - he's excited about reading so he could get his license. He is currently studying welding, anxious for the opportunity to get a high-paying job.

When asked what he would say to a teen or adult who finds themselves in a similar situation, Gunnar has a word of advice. "Even though he can't read very well, he can still try. And not give up. The biggest thing is to make sure he doesn't give up."

We are incredibly proud of Gunnar's success so far. If you or someone you know could benefit from Goodwill's Work Keys program, contact us at 865.588.8567.

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