After 13 years as executive director of Goodwill of East Texas, David Walton retired at the end of June. The organization held a reception in his honor Wednesday.
"It taught me no one should ever give up," Walton said of Goodwill.
Walton has a personal appreciation for the organization he worked for. One of Goodwill's missions is to give work to people with disabilities. Walton was hit by a drunk driver in 1973, leaving him with a broken neck. He worked hard on his recovery, and now only walks with a limp and is dependent on a cane.
But he owes his meaningful employment after the fact to Goodwill, he said.
"I have fulfilled my mission, I have paid back my recovery," he said.
Since Walton joined Goodwill Industries of East Texas in January 2000, operating revenues have grown from $3.5 million to $12.5 million, according to a written release from the organization. The number of stores has increased from nine to 15; employment has increased from 250 jobs to more than 400.
The Commercial Services Division, which includes the Opportunities In Tyler workshop, will achieve a record $2 million in revenues for 2013. The Career and Counseling Services Division, which originally provided services to Tyler only, now trains and places individuals in jobs throughout East Texas. Goodwill has grown from serving fewer than 100 people per year to now serving more than 2,000 people per year.
Walton's successor is Kimberly Lewis, who has been executive director of the Goodwill Industries of KYOWVA Inc. in Huntington, W. Va. for the last 10 years.
"I'm looking forward to further integrating Goodwill into the community," she said. "David Walton did a fantastic job of really building a strong foundation … I bleed blue. I feel great every time I go to work."