Celebrating Black History Month with Lakeysha Hamilton

    [fa icon="calendar"] Feb 6, 2024 3:00:00 PM / by Noelle Gray

    Noelle Gray

    February is Black History Month, and Goodwill of Central & Southern Indiana is excited to highlight the African American leaders who contribute to our mission of changing lives every day through health, education and employment. Lakeysha Hamilton, Goodwill’s director of outlets, has been with the organization for over 20 years and looks forward to Black History Month.

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    “I know it’s just one month, but Black History Month is meant to recognize us as a people,” said Lakeysha. “We can remember our past while celebrating our present.”

    For Lakeysha, Black History Month is an opportune time to celebrate her heritage. Her grandmother’s church is producing a play about her family, originally from Mississippi. She looks up to her great-great-grandfather, Dallas B. Jones, a formerly enslaved person, pastor and community leader.

    “He made sacrifices for our family to buy a home and become a leader – all while being visually impaired,” said Lakeysha. “He motivated me especially because of my disability and to not let it determine who I am as a person.”

    Lakeysha has sickle cell anemia, a disease that affects red blood cells in the body. When she was first hired at Goodwill in 2004, she worked part-time as a cashier to have supplemental income. She couldn’t pursue full-time employment while receiving social security.

    “My site leader believed in me,” said Lakeysha. “Through that encouragement, I challenged myself. I was not only able to have a job, but I was also able to have a career.”

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    Since 2004, Lakeysha has been promoted several times and worked her way up to the Director of Outlets. Now, she is one of the leaders on the Goodwill Retail Operations Team, responsible for four outlets. She ensures that these facilities run smoothly, and staff can improve their skills and take care of their families. 

    “I love the opportunities Goodwill gives everyone, regardless of background,” said Lakeysha.

    As a Black woman with a disability, Lakeysha is proud of the growth she’s been able to achieve. 

    “Before, my identity affected me because I always questioned myself,” said Lakeysha. “I always cared about what other people thought. It took some years to come to terms with letting some of that perception go. I can't allow that to hinder my growth.” 

    Lakeysha plans on growing even further. In the near future, she wants to re-enroll at Ivy Tech, earn her associate degree and start working toward a bachelor’s in business administration.

    “Black women are stereotyped in so many different ways,” said Lakeysha. “Thankfully, I can say the leadership I report to has allowed me to be who I am and is receptive to my feelings. If you look at Goodwill as an organization and the diversity, equity and inclusion work we do, it allows all of us to be different.”

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    Topics: Employment, Disability, Retail, DEI

    Noelle Gray

    Written by Noelle Gray

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