May 14, 2019
LAS VEGAS, NV — Nina Ridgeway exemplifies the Goodwill mission and the unselfish and service-oriented values of Goodwill’s founder Rev. Edgar Helms through various efforts and programs at her Goodwill. For her work to advocate for and serve veterans and military families, among others, Goodwill Industries International is honored to award her with the 2019 Edgar J. Helms Award for Staff.
Ridgeway is the Veteran Integration Program manager and Director of Career Center Services at Goodwill Industries of Southern Nevada. A 20-year Air Force veteran, she grew Goodwill’s Veterans Integration Program and is passionate about helping veterans and their spouses succeed beyond their service. The program helps veterans and their spouses through a variety of services, including helping to translate their skills and make them marketable to employers, and ensuring long-term financial stability for themselves and their families.
Since joining Goodwill in 2013, Ridgeway has successfully connected people, partners and local employers; opened several career centers; provided hands-on services to the veteran community and their families; and helped placed more than 6,700 individuals into employment, with nearly one-third of those being veterans and military family members.
In 2018, Ridgeway launched the community’s first Mobile Career Coach, an innovative program that provides career services to homeless veterans, victims of domestic abuse, people in addiction recovery, and those who are unable to travel to Goodwill locations. The program stabilized the lives of nearly 100 individuals in its first year.
To ensure that Goodwill employees were fully equipped to best serve program participants, Ridgeway organized “Safe Talk” training for the mission services staff, which helps employees identify program participants in crisis and provide resources to help. Her collaboration with the Director of Philanthropy resulted in Goodwill receiving a $1.4 million Department of Labor dislocated worker grant, which enhanced Goodwill’s Veteran Integration Program to help transitioning military members and their spouses secure civilian employment.
“Nina is a dedicated leader within the veteran community and our mission services are much stronger because of her,” said John Helderman, CEO at Goodwill Industries of Southern Nevada. “Nina is extremely passionate about helping veterans, their families, and other job seekers and her commitment to helping others is evident in her work every day.”
For her work with Goodwill, Ridgeway received the Salute Our Troops individual recognition from NBC News 3 Las Vegas, as well as program recognition through the Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve (ESGR) Seven Seals Award for service to the community.
In 2015, Ridgeway established the Southern Nevada Veteran Community Engagement Board and currently serves as chair. In August of this year, the board is being recognized by the Governor of Nevada for their work. She was also selected to serve on the Mayor’s Challenge for Suicide Prevention Taskforce on behalf of City of Las Vegas Mayor Carolyn Goodman. As part of the effort to address this serious issue within the veteran community, she created a “State of the State” suicide prevention and information workshop, which provided information and resources to 20 community service providers. Ridgeway’s leadership efforts have been recognized in the veteran community by the VA Medical Center director, the Nevada Department of Veterans Services, Veterans Village Las Vegas and the Acting Secretary of Veteran Affairs Peter O’Rourke.
The Edgar J. Helms Award for Staff honors a current Goodwill employee who has not received Goodwill services in the past, and who exemplifies the mission of Goodwill Industries and its founder Rev. Edgar J. Helms’ values of unselfish service to people with disabilities or other disadvantaging conditions. Ridgeway will receive the award at Goodwill Industries International’s annual meeting of the Delegate Assembly this June in Pittsburgh, PA.