FAIRFIELD, Conn. — Goodwill of Western & Northern Connecticut is honoring one of its trainees, Fairfield resident Thomas Kitoko, with its Spirit of Inspiration Award at this year’s Annual Achievement Awards Luncheon on Thursday, April 28.
The award honors those who, with the help of Goodwill programs and services, have been able to overcome significant challenges and are on a path to a successful future.
Kitoko is a native of Congo, Central Africa who was separated from his family during factional infighting.
A group of fighters looking to recruit child soldiers demanded Kitoko tell them the location of his son, but Kitoko refused.
His refusal resulted in life-long ramifications, including the fighters taking his wife and severely torturing Kitoko, with his maimed left leg requiring him to wear a platform shoe to this day.
Kitoko's next seven years were spent in a refugee camp where he was reunited with his son and was elected to come to the U.S.
Kitoko and his son were assigned a place to live together, but were without a steady source of income to support their family.
He was referred to and received retail training at Goodwill and used his certification to obtain employment at two separate retail locations. He recently accepted a full time janitorial job at Sacred Heart University.
“Thomas has overcome incredible obstacles and adversity,” said Vickie Volpano, president and chief executive officer of Goodwill of Western and Northern Connecticut.
“His determination and outlook is inspirational to us all. We are so proud to honor him,” Volpano added.
Goodwill of Western & Northern Connecticut describes its mission as offering employment and supportive services and that through its programs, "the individuals it serves gain hope, dignity, and financial independence."
Along with employment training, Goodwill Career Centers helped Kitoko learn English and utilize community resources to obtain a drivers license and a vehicle to get to and from work.
Kitoko plans to get a job in the human services field to give back to his new community and help people better their own lives.
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