Success Stories

Goodwill’s first Deaf employee, Peter Martineau, reflects on his 35-year career

Man smiling with tress in the background

Peter Martineau was the first Deaf employee hired to work with Deaf clients at Goodwill. He was young and it was his first gig, 35 years ago. As a young adult, he was still figuring out the basics like how to grocery shop and cook dinner on a budget. Funnily enough, those were the same skills he was teaching as part of his work in a Goodwill home. Goodwill has 16 staffed group homes that serve adults with disabilities.

At that time, Peter worked as a Direct Support Professional. He helped the clients with their daily activities. Peter was quick to realize that Goodwill gave him more than a paycheck — he learned how to be responsible for his own life. As he figured out budget-friendly meals and ways to remove stains out of his shirts, he taught these same life skills to the clients he served. Together they grew.   

Peter went to college and afterward he took professional trainings and workshops to better assist Deaf clients. Goodwill encouraged him to develop his skills with Deaf empowerment, mutual understanding, and respect. He still works for Goodwill, but now at Lifeworks Deaf Services – community supports for adults who have both an intellectual disability and Deafness.

In the past, one of the Goodwill homes was run by a separate volunteer a board of directors. Goodwill asked Peter to join that board. There he discovered the power of his voice. He learned to use his voice to represent the Deaf community. It was through that lens he flourished.

Around town, he speaks often about his work to the Deaf community. Many people in the community are not aware of the Deaf programs at Goodwill. Peter says they are interested and, sometimes surprised, by his daily work with Deaf clients at Goodwill.

As for the future at Goodwill, Peter is hopeful.

He said, “The use of technology has come such a long way. We are more accessible to more people through texting, video calls and emails. It has made an incredible difference to broaden the access in our daily work with clients.”

It was with a big smile, Peter said when he comes to work, he doesn’t get the “the grumpies.” Rather, it fills him with joy to work with the people we serve. Peter has made this work his priority. We are grateful for his passion and commitment.

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