Customer Service Starts With A Smile

Goodwill employee once down on his luck uplifts customers with positive spirit.

First impressions are everything, and the first time you meet Rodney Shelton, you’re overcome with joy, happiness and a newfound appreciation for life. For customers who shop at the Goodwill Austintown store, no trip would be complete without stopping to talk with Shelton, the fun-loving janitor who greets each and every individual with a smile and friendly hello. His journey has been far from easy, enduring hardships and adversity, but without those challenges, he wouldn’t be the person he is today.

“The customers are why I love working for Goodwill and I truly believe a bright smile and positive attitude goes a long way to making a difference in the lives of people.” Rodney Shelton Janitor, Austintown Goodwill

Shelton’s story begins on Youngstown’s north side where he grew up. He graduated from Rayen High School in 1972 and throughout the years, worked for a variety of industries from a beverage distribution facility to manufacturing shop to even a scrapyard. It was while at the scrapyard when he received the news he would be laid off. From there, he fell on some hard times and struggled to make ends meet. Without a job or home, Shelton had to seek refuge at the Rescue Mission of the Mahoning Valley. But, he was determined not to give up.

The Rescue Mission and Goodwill have a long-standing relationship and in fact were one in the same locally until 1960. Thanks to this close partnership, a member of the mission staff referred Shelton to Goodwill’s Job Placement Program. The complimentary service helps people find employment opportunities by identifying their strengths and interests, and preparing them for the job market. This includes assisting with the employment application process, teaching interview techniques and provide guidance to developing a resume.

Shelton participated and completed the program in 2013 and soon after was hired full-time to work as a janitor at the Austintown store. “Goodwill is an outstanding organization to work for and I appreciate and am extremely grateful they gave me this opportunity to showcase my skills,” said Shelton.

That gratitude represents Shelton’s attitude. He arrives bright and early before each shift to make sure the floors are spotless and that each shopping cart is neatly stacked at the front door for customers to grab and go. But, it doesn’t stop at the door. Shelton goes above and beyond to help ensure customers leave Goodwill happy and appreciated.

Each person who comes into the store receives a kind and courteous welcome from Shelton. His positive spirit is highly contagious and brings a smile to every customer and employee. “Rodney’s enthusiastic about his work and very helpful with customers,” stated Jacqui Edwards, Austintown Goodwill Supervisor. “He puts a smile on a lot of customers’ faces and even if they do not need any assistance, they love that he volunteers to help.”

Whether a frequent visitor or new shopper to Goodwill Austintown, know you’re going to get a warm greeting and helpful hand from Rodney Shelton.