Each year in May all of the Goodwill Industries affiliates across the country choose two area businesses to honor, one as the business and the other as employer of the year.
In North Fort Myers, it is a particular honor to be chosen for those distinctions, as this is the site of Goodwill Industries of Southwest Florida headquarters.
This year, LYNX Services, L.L.C. of North Fort Myers and BJ's Wholesale Club of Cape Coral each took top honors for supporting Goodwill in the community. LYNX received the agency's Business of the Year recognition and BJ's was named Goodwill's 2010 Employer of the Year.
Goodwill CEO Tom Feurig congratulates BJ’s General Manager Cindy Newmaster. BJ’s employee Curtis Williams holds the Employer of the Year Award.
The non-profit agency recognized the businesses and several individuals at its annual awards luncheon held at Harborside Event Center in Fort Myers.
LYNX Services received the Business of the Year honor for its support of Goodwill's Business Services program. Goodwill Business Services provide low-cost cleaning, maintenance, and secure document destruction service while employing people with disabilities.
LYNX Services is a third-party administrator of insurance claims management and outsourced contract center services, also known as one of the largest employers in North Fort Myers.
LYNX was one of the first Southwest Florida businesses to utilize Goodwill Secure Shred for its document destruction needs. "When we started our shredding business, they partnered with us," said Goodwill's Senior Vice President of Administrative Services Rick Evanchyk.
LYNX also recently offered its 70,000 square foot facility in North Fort Myers for use as Goodwill's training ground for janitorial apprentices.
"We're happy to be able to provide the facility," said Brian Dvoroznak, LYNX Services' controller, in a prepared statement. "With Goodwill, we get something we need and help the community at the same time. There aren't many instances where you can find a true win-win opportunity in business."
The Employer of the Year is given to a local business that has supported Goodwill's mission of employing people with disabilities and other disadvantages. This year, the award went to BJ's Wholesale Club, just over the North Fort Myers/Cape Coral border on Pine Island Road, the popular local membership-based warehouse club.
Cindy Newmaster, general manager of the Cape Coral BJ's, accepted the award alongside members of the BJ's team at the luncheon.
According to Goodwill representatives, the company supports and enhances programs within the community with the goal of creating a positive, long-lasting impact, which includes hiring people with disabilities and special needs. Locally, that effort is spearheaded by Newmaster, who recently became a member of Goodwill's local board of directors.
Those within the program are no different than their coworkers, she said.
"They're just part of the team, doing the same job. Nobody treats them differently," said Newmaster.
"We were very excited for the opportunity to be named Employer of the Year," said BJ's Sandra Aguliar. "BJ's takes pride in being a good corporate citizen and giving back to the communities we serve."
Also honored at the awards luncheon were Volunteer of the Year Carolina Rodriguez, Achiever of the Year Ruth Moise, and Graduate of the Year Ruben Castro.
The Goodwill Annual Awards Luncheon was sponsored by SunTrust Bank. The afternoon's keynote speaker was Jason Gunter, a Fort Myers resident who recently completed the Ironman Triathlon as a double-amputee.
Goodwill Industries of Southwest Florida, Inc. helps people with disabilities and other disadvantages overcome their barriers to employment and independence. Supported programs include Job-Link, vocational training, community outreach, youth programs, income-subsidized housing, and vehicle assistance.