Goodwill Industries of Greater New York and Northern New Jersey, Inc. has established the Gerald Johnson Scholarship Fund for students who exhibit a commitment to community service and actively participate and contribute to the betterment of their community. As a Goodwill NYNJ employee, Gerald Johnson dedicated forty-two years of his career to develop young community leaders.
Goodwill NYNJ has awarded the first three $1,000 scholarships to:
Peter Maciel, Tia Wheeler, and Maria Elena Loizi
Gerald Johnson had a passion for helping people, especially youth. He was dedicated to the mission of Goodwill NYNJ of empowering individuals with disabilities and other barriers to employment to gain independence through the power of work.
Gerald Johnson Scholarship recipient Peter Maciel volunteered as tutor and mentor in Goodwill NYNJ’s Beacon program at Horace Greeley IS. According to Peter, “community service is a way of giving back. I like making people feel as if they matter.” And that’s exactly what Peter did for two hours a day every weekday! Peter has volunteered over 300 impressive hours at our Beacon program. He continues to volunteer at our after school program assisting students and plans to attend college next year.
Scholarship Recipient Tia Wheeler, who teachers and friends describe as a bright, hardworking and respectful young woman, has been accepted to the University of Albany – Class of 2020. As part of a year-long graduation group assignment, Tia engaged middle school and freshman high school students to address the issues of bullying and self-image. Tia and her teammates researched how bullying affects self-image, relationships between older students and younger students. But her giving spirit did not end with her group assignment. Tia continues to give back to the community through Goodwill NYNJ as a dance teacher at the Woodside Community Center.
“We need to work as a community, alongside one another and put aside our differences, to make an impact on ourselves and to better our society.”
Maria Elena Loizi, the third scholarship recipient, works for Goodwill NYNJ youth services department as an Activity Specialist at our Beacon 141 Afterschool Program. Since joining the Goodwill NYNJ after school program, Maria Elena has taken a personal interest in the lives of each student. Maria Elena, Peter and Tia embodied the values of Goodwill NYNJ through their work and we are proud to reward them with the Gerald Johnson scholarship.