SARASOTA/BRADENTON, FL – Goodwill Manasota has made significant moves to beef up its Veterans Services Program. The nonprofit organization has hired three new team members to staff its Homeless Veterans Reintegration Program (HVRP), promoted an existing team member to a new role, and shifted a former career services employee to assist in non-HVRP operations.
Eric Davis, Bryan Jacobs and Chris Landis are serving as HVRP advisors. In this role, they help to connect at-risk veterans with necessary social services while providing comprehensive case management and vocational services that assist in lowering or removing barriers to employment. Mike Marzella, an Army veteran who has worked for Goodwill for the past year, was promoted to HVRP program manager. Janet McBride has also joined Goodwill’s Veteran Services team to help non-HVRP veterans and their families; she previously worked for Goodwill’s Job Connections program.
After graduating from high school, Davis served in the Coast Guard for 10 years, working as a supply store keeper on the USCGC THETIS, a boat designated to stop drug trafficking and perform migrant rescues, and then as a manager of supply and warehouse items at Base Portsmouth in Virginia. He retired from military service as a Petty Officer Second Class in 2016; his post at Goodwill is his first civilian job.
Jacobs was a 2nd Marine Division Battlefield Paramedic who served two tours in Iraq. He has worked as a chef, later earning his Bachelor’s degree in Hospitality from USF Sarasota-Manatee. After the suicide of his younger brother, who also served in the Marines, Jacobs made it a personal goal to help his military brothers and sisters who were struggling; he created the Vet2Chef program to assist homeless veterans in finding a new vocation in the culinary arts. He began working for Goodwill in October of 2017.
Landis joined the Army National Guard after graduating from high school. After his military retirement, he received a Bachelor’s degree from USF and his Master’s degree in Criminal Justice Administration. He was honored with the outstanding graduate award for his research on veterans with PTSD, discussing how social supports can reduce the likelihood they will wind up in the criminal justice system. Landis then worked with Veterans Treatment Court, helping veterans get through the criminal justice system, get connected with social services, and get back on their feet. He was hired by Goodwill in late November of 2017.
HVRP director Mike Marzella is an Army veteran who served for seven years, leaving the Army on a medical discharge. He worked as an EMT in Desoto County while also earning his Bachelor’s degree in Information Security from the University of Phoenix. While working in IT, he became involved with veteran-related nonprofit work and found his passion. He started working for Goodwill's Veterans Services Program a year ago.
"We are thrilled to welcome these amazing professionals to our team – they will be instrumental in our efforts to help veterans regain a sense of pride, dignity and purpose," said Goodwill Manasota’s director of the Veterans Services Program C.J. Bannister, who has served in that capacity since the program began in 2013. "At Goodwill, we believe that our veterans deserve more – they deserve access to services they have earned, employment and housing. I am looking forward to seeing the contributions these team members will make to our organization and the community in the coming months."
Goodwill Manasota’s Veterans Services Program was created to help eliminate barriers to employment, provide opportunities for higher-paying positions for veterans and their families, and connect veterans with needed social services. The HVRP, which is funded through grants from the U.S. Department of Labor, helps to reintegrate homeless veterans into meaningful employment within the labor force and to stimulate the development of effective service delivery systems that address the complex problems facing homeless veterans and their families. For more information, go to experiencegoodwill.org or call (941) 355-2721, ext. 451.
About Goodwill Manasota
Goodwill Manasota is an industry-leading, 501(c)(3), not-for-profit organization that changes lives through the power of work. With the sales of donated goods and philanthropic donations, Goodwill is able to assist people with disabilities and other barriers to employment by providing job skills training and employment opportunities. In 2016, Goodwill Manasota served 28,207 people, placed 755 people in jobs and assisted 240 veterans as they reintegrated back into the civilian workforce. Goodwill Manasota’s economic impact back to the community is worth $92.1 million. Goodwill is one of the pioneers of the reduce-reuse-recycle movement and this past year diverted more than 40 million pounds out of the landfill. We accomplish our mission through a network of Good Neighbor Centers in Sarasota, Manatee, Hardee and DeSoto counties and our Mission Development Services (MDS) around North America. Goodwill Manasota is accountable to a local Board of Directors. Goodwill Manasota, in essence, belongs to this community and is not owned by any individual or company. For more information, visit www.experiencegoodwill.org.