Marlon Nelson’s letter of resignation to Goodwill was a tear-jerker. “Thanks to each and every one for the opportunity to be a part of this family. Thanks also for the opportunity to push me in the right direction,” Marlon wrote. “I will miss y’all dearly. Please take care of Papaw.”
Marlon has been working for Goodwill’s production facility in Knoxville for about 2 years. In that time, he learned how to work in most of the positions in the warehouse, from collecting and sorting donations to preparing them for shipment to our regional Goodwill retail stores. Marlon knew the business and he knew the people he worked with, including Ron Ramsey, who Marlon affectionately refers to as Papaw.
Ron has been an Extended Employee at Goodwill since 1990 and he will be celebrating his 25th work anniversary and his 75th birthday this month. “He gets the hangers ready for the other people who hang clothes, which is major; you have to have clothes hangers in order to hang,” said Marlon. “And he’s really good at his job.”
Ron has significant cognitive disabilities, so he needs guidance and assistance for much of his daily routine. His speech can be difficult to understand, so he requires patience from the people around him. During the two years that the men have spent together at Goodwill, Marlon has become a friend and mentor to Ron, taking the time to understand and appreciate Ron’s personality. The two initially bonded when Marlon was asked to take Ron to lunch. “Ever since then, it’s become a routine habit,” said Marlon. “We’ve got a great relationship, so it’s hard leaving, but at the same time, I need time to help develop these kids.”
Marlon is leaving Goodwill to work fulltime for his organization, Sleepy Inc. The organization is about a year old and is about to receive its 501c3 non-profit status. Sleepy Inc is intended to engage youth in the community to keep them productive and out of trouble. One big way that they do this: basketball. Marlon works on developing basketball skills, strength training and conditioning with the youth in his program. “Very few people get a chance to do the things that they’re called to do. I’ve been blessed to be able to do my calling,” said Marlon.
Marlon is planning to visit Ron and the rest of the Goodwill staff and clients regularly. “It’s going to be hard for [Ron] to know I’m gone because I’m going to be coming back to visit him so much.”
We wish Marlon the best of luck in his adventures.