Fairfielders’ achievements honored by Goodwill
Monday, May 9, 2016
FAIRFIELD – Two Fairfield residents were among those honored at the annual Achievement Awards program of Goodwill of Western and Northern Connecticut.
Thomas Kitoko was presented with the Spirit of Inspiration Award, and Samuel Dupre received the Spirit of Perseverance Award.
Kitoko was born in Congo, Central Africa, but was separated from his family during civil conflict there, according to a Goodwill statement. “He refused to give up the location of his son to a group of fighters looking to recruit child soldiers. In response, the fighters took his wife as retaliation and tortured him so severely that he must wear a platform shoe to accommodate his maimed left leg,” Goodwill said.
Kitoko spent the next seven years in a refugee camp, where he was reunited with his son, and was later able to come to the United States.
Kitoko was assigned a place to live with his son, but had no steady source of income to provide for his family, the agency said. He was referred to and received retail training through Goodwill support services. He used his certification to find work at two separate retail locations and recently was hired for a full-time janitorial job at Sacred Heart University, Goodwill said.
“Thomas has overcome incredible obstacles and adversity,” Vickie Volpano, president and CEO of Goodwill of Western and Northern Connecticut, said in the statement. “His determination and outlook is inspirational to us all; we are so proud to honor him.”
In addition to employment training, Goodwill Career Centers assisted Kitoko in learning English and obtaining a driver’s license, as well as a vehicle to travel to work. He eventually plans to get a job in the human-services field “so he can give back to the community that aided him during his transition and help people better their own lives,” Goodwill said.
Dupre, the other local award recipient, was raised in a single-parent household and, according to Goodwill, “a history of developmental disability and mental illness set him back further, and after dropping out of school in 12th grade and getting arrested for stealing a car, Dupre agreed to receive in-patient treatment at the Bridgeport Mental Health Center after serving jail time.”
He lived at the mental health center until he started vocational services at Goodwill in 2012. Dupre has been working for the agency’s cleaning crew, and recently was chosen by Goodwill to lead cleaning services at Oxford airport.
“We’re so proud of Sam,” Volpano said in the awards statement. “We cannot wait to see his continued growth and development during his time at Goodwill.”
Dupre, who lives in a group home, plans to get a high school diploma and eventually live on his own.