Cookeville mom honored as Goodwill Achiever of the Year

Manika Ringo

Stories of achievement, collaboration celebrated during impact week

NASHVILLE — A young mom who dreamed of finishing her education, a man whose career spanned three decades despite his disability and a daughter who aspires to help others the way she and her mother were helped are among the employees, clients and partners whose inspiring stories were celebrated during Goodwill Industries of Middle Tennessee’s 2020 Impact Week.

The online celebration, presented by Pinnacle Financial Partners, replaced Goodwill’s annual fall luncheon. It included a series of videos and award presentations released daily from Nov. 16-20. The videos, including introductions by NewsChannel 5 anchor Rhori Johnston, can be viewed at

“These stories of achievement, redemption and collaboration demonstrate the power of Goodwill’s mission to change lives and benefit our entire community,” said Goodwill’s President and CEO Matthew Bourlakas. “Thanks to the generosity of Pinnacle Financial Partners and our other sponsors, we were able to share these messages of hope far and wide despite the pandemic.”


Achiever of the Year

The recipient of this award, sponsored this year by American Paper & Twine, has achieved great success since being hired by Goodwill.

Manika Ringo was 14 when she became pregnant and quit high school. She dreamed of earning her diploma, but the death of her father and other circumstances left her homeless. In 2015, she moved from Arizona to Cookeville and found a job at Goodwill. Manika excelled and was promoted to store administrator. In 2019, she was selected for an employee leadership program that motivated her to seek her high school equivalency diploma and explore college opportunities. The mother of five earned her diploma in the spring of 2020 and enrolled at Volunteer State Community College to study nursing administrative management.

David B. Lifsey Scholarship

This annual scholarship, named for Goodwill’s past president who served four decades, is presented to a Goodwill training program graduate who plans to enroll in post-secondary education or a credentialed certification program.

After Precious Davis’ birth in 2000, she and her mother spent 14 months at Renewal House, a nonprofit addiction treatment center in Nashville. Renewal House referred Precious’ mother, Shirley Davis, to Goodwill for help finding employment, and Shirley went to work for Goodwill. As a teenager, Precious took part in Goodwill youth employment programs that she credits with helping her find a part-time job and save money for a car. One program included an internship with Renewal House, and that inspired Precious to seek a degree in social work. She is now a student at Nashville State Community College. 

LaVoi-Katz Award

This award, sponsored this year by BlueCross BlueShield Community Trust, is named in honor of two women who were loyal supporters of Goodwill — Madeleine LaVoi and Elsine Katz. It is given to a Goodwill Career Solutions client who made outstanding progress.

York Gerlock, who has Down syndrome, first came to Goodwill in Nashville for training in 1989. To his family’s delight, the program led to a position processing donations. York became a founding member of a group of people with intellectual or developmental disabilities who work together and are affectionately known as the A-Team. York enjoyed his job, and it became a 30-year career. Along the way, York met countless people who were inspired by his dedication and love of Goodwill. York retired as one of Goodwills’ longest-serving employees on Jan. 8, 2020, when coworkers, friends and family gathered for a party in his honor.

Mission Partner of the Year

Presented to an organization that significantly contributed to Goodwill’s mission of providing jobs and job services for those struggling to find work. The award is sponsored this year by CoreCivic Foundation.

For 15 years, Aspell Recovery Center in Jackson has partnered with Goodwill on behalf of its clients recovering from drug and alcohol addiction. Aspell now annually sends about 150 clients to Goodwill Career Solutions for skills training and job placement, helping restore their financial stability and regain supported, productive lives.

Donor Partner of the Year

Presented to an organization that significantly contributed to Goodwill’s mission through assistance with the collection of donated goods. The award is sponsored this year by T&T Family Foundation.

Williamson County Solid Waste Department hosts Goodwill donation sites at several of its convenience centers. In 2019, people donated about 161,000 times at those sites, allowing Goodwill to employ 18 full-time attendants. About 8,100 tons of useful material was diverted from landfills, saving taxpayers an estimated $400,000.

Pioneer of the Year Award

This award, sponsored this year by the Enchiridion Foundation, honors luminaries who went beyond the call of duty, led by example and inspired others to rally behind Goodwill’s mission of changing lives through education, training and employment. 

The late Ty Osman, co-founder of Solomon Builders in Nashville, served on Goodwill’s Board of Directors from 2010-2014, providing leadership during a period of expansion. He guided site selection and construction of five new Goodwill stores across Middle Tennessee as well as Goodwill’s Lifsey Career Solutions Center in downtown Nashville.

Ambassador of the Year Award

This honoree was chosen from among nominations received on social media in response to a call for examples of people who are dedicated supporters of Goodwill and its mission.

Jennifer Hicks, a nurse practitioner and married mother of two living in Nashville, shops at Goodwill for stress relief, to save money and to maintain an environmentally conscious lifestyle. She also is a frequent donor and fervent supporter of Goodwill’s mission.

Additional sponsors:

Other sponsors of Goodwill’s Impact Week included Autow, LBMC, TVA, Lockton and HUB.

About Goodwill Industries of Middle Tennessee, Inc.

For more than 60 years, Goodwill Industries of Middle Tennessee has provided job training and job placement free of charge to people with disabilities or other barriers to employment through the sale of donated items.  Goodwill’s vision is that all people will have the opportunity to reach their fullest potential through the power of work. More information about Goodwill’s Career Solutions, retail stores and donation centers can be found online at or by calling 1-800-545-9231.

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