Goodwill honors VA Medical Center as Employer of the Year

Published 12:00 am Thursday, December 1, 2022

WINSTON-SALEM – Goodwill Industries of Northwest North Carolina honored the community partners, volunteer leaders, employees and program participants who make its mission services possible at the annual recognition banquet Nov. 17, at the Benton Convention Center in Winston-Salem.

The W.G. (Bill) Hefner VA Medical Center in Salisbury was named Employer of the Year:

The VA Medical Center is one of Goodwill’s leading employers in the Salisbury area and is instrumental in placing both veteran and non-veteran program participants in a variety of job opportunities, including nursing, housekeeping, food service and supply techs. Annually, more than 30 participants in Goodwill’s programs gain meaningful employment with the W.G. Hefner VA Medical Center.

Attendees enjoyed a keynote address by Dr. William T. Lewis Sr., a nationally recognized leader in diversity and inclusion. As founder of WillHouse Global, Lewis has served as advisor and consultant to business and higher education leaders, most recently as special consultant to the president for belonging, equity and inclusion at Forsyth Technical Community College. Lewis is an advisory board member of the Winston-Salem Foundation’s Black Philanthropy Initiative, a trustee for Leadership Winston-Salem, and serves on the board of directors of the United Way of Forsyth County. He is the author of “Sweet Potato or Pumpkin Pie: Conversations with My White Friends about Race.” Lewis also serves his 13-year-old son’s business, CAMS Coffee Company as the chief executive gopher. CAMS Coffee was created to provide supportive employment for individuals with disabilities.

The banquet included presentations to community leader Dr. Robert V. Ford Jr., Graduate of the Year Kyle Johnson, Achiever of the Year Erika Bowman, employee recognition awards and those for community and corporate partners.

The Heritage Award recognizes individuals that have made a significant, long-lasting contribution to the success of Goodwill and its mission. The Heritage Award is the highest honor that Goodwill gives to those who support its mission and has only been given to five individuals. Dr. Robert V. Ford Jr. is a retired physician, community leader, and longtime member of Goodwill’s Board of Directors. Dr. Ford practiced pediatrics in Winston-Salem for 43 years, from 1974-2017.

The Graduate of the Year Award honors an outstanding person with a disability or disadvantaging condition who has completed a Goodwill career services program and gone on to demonstrate outstanding achievement by attaining and maintaining successful employment in the community. The 2022 Graduate of the Year is Kyle Johnson, a Wilkesboro native and Army veteran who overcame substance abuse and homelessness. With the help of the Goodwill Veterans Services Program, Kyle completed professional truck driver training and is now employed with Bottomley Enterprises in Mt. Airy. Watch a video about Kyle’s story at

The Achiever of the Year award is presented to an individual who has overcome obstacles, demonstrated significant personal and vocational development, and achieved success in the workplace. The 2022 Achiever of the Year is Erika Bowman, who worked with Goodwill’s employment specialists in Asheville and Hendersonville after her release from incarceration. Within a few months, Goodwill hired Erika as a Project Re-entry specialist, where she assisted other formerly incarcerated individuals find jobs after their release. Watch a video about Erika’s story at

The banquet also recognized four Goodwill employees who were nominated by their peers as outstanding examples of the organization’s culture and values, and who help create an environment that fosters the success of Goodwill’s mission. They were:

  • Devita Ewell, Mission Advancement, Winston-Salem
  • Junetta Holman, Facilities, Winston-Salem
  • Wendy Steele, Mission Advancement, Lexington
  • Lynn Whitcomb, Black Mountain store manager

Others honored for their support Goodwill’s mission through donations and partnering on workforce development programs were:

Partner Agency of the Year: Golden LEAF Foundation

Goodwill began partnering with the Golden LEAF Foundation during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic in June 2020. This partnership provides childcare, training, and supportive service assistance to individuals in Davie, Stokes, Surry, Wilkes and Yadkin Counties, which have been instrumental in helping individuals complete training programs or start new careers.


Donor Partner of the Year: Hanesbrands, Inc.

As part of a long-running partnership, Hanesbrands has donated thousands of socks, underwear, t-shirts, active wear and other clothing items to Goodwill for sale in its 51 retail stores and outlets. The revenue generated has helped fund workforce development, training, and provides services throughout Goodwill’s 31-county territory.


Special Recognition Award: Winston-Salem Dash

Goodwill began partnering with the Dash in 2015 to raise awareness for the Goodwill Veterans Services Program. The partnership has helped Goodwill to educate the public on its mission, honor participants in the Veterans Services Program, and promote the retail stores that provide funding for Goodwill’s programs and services. To date, the Dash have recognized 23 local veterans on-field during games as part of the annual Salute to Veterans program.