Achieving the impossible

By Tatiana Peralta 12/07/2021
Achieving the Impossible

Dustin Fayard spent years in limbo searching for a meaningful job, believing he just didn’t have the ability to work. It wasn’t until 2013 that Dustin landed his first-ever job at Goodwill South Mississippi where he became a force to be reckoned with. Since joining the team, Dustin has successfully proven that he possesses the skills needed to achieve upward mobility in the workplace. 

“Dustin just needed to be unleashed,” said Kimberly Hall, Chief Workforce and Economic Development Officer at Goodwill South Mississippi. “He has a ton of potential and we wanted to make sure we were creating opportunities to unleash that potential. I look forward to seeing him blossom and to what’s next. He inspires other team members that have disabilities. We all stand in awe of what he can do.”  

Dustin is employed at the Keesler Air Force Base as an assistant project manager through the AbilityOne® Program, one of the largest sources of employment for people who are blind or have significant disabilities.  

When Dustin joined Goodwill South Mississippi, one of the nonprofit agencies in the SourceAmerica® network, he just wanted to stay employed. He always thought climbing the career ladder was an unattainable goal. As he received support and learned the ropes, Dustin started to reach for the stars and achieve milestones that he once thought were impossible.  

A day in the life for Dustin includes supervising a team of about a dozen AbilityOne employees who are responsible for cleaning and maintaining the 90 buildings at the Keesler Air Force base, managing team schedules, and conducting quality checks. In total, Dustin’s team cleans one million square feet each week. Even though he is now a supervisor, Dustin is always willing to work alongside his team to make sure everything is done to the right standards.  

“Because a majority of my team has disabilities, I have to keep in mind what they are going through,” he said. “It helps me to empathize with them. My favorite part of the job is working with them, seeing that despite what they may be going through, they show up to work every day. It helps me to see I’m not the only one going through something and fighting through something. It really motivates you.” 

Dustin’s biggest challenge at the start of his career was his own mind. While the importance of work was never instilled in him as a child, Dustin always knew he wanted an opportunity to be independent. Consistently, Dustin was told that because of his disability he wouldn’t be able to handle having a job. It is because of Dustin’s hard work, skills, and the opportunities presented at Goodwill South Mississippi through the AbilityOne Program, that Dustin has been able to dispel all those notions.  

“Goodwill and the AbilityOne Program changed my life,” he said. “That is not even an understatement. Before Goodwill I was convinced that I couldn’t work and that I would go through life withering away. They accommodated my situation, worked around what needed to be done, and really opened my eyes to all I could handle.”  

Right now, Dustin is content with his job and the independence it provides. “I hope to stay on my feet and keep working,” he said. “While it may seem like a minor goal, for me to be employed for 20 years would be a massive achievement.” 

Dustin’s message to all of us is to be patient with the people we encounter. “Just because you can’t see a disability, it doesn’t mean people don’t have one,” he said. “Everyone has goals they feel they can’t reach, and it is up to all of us to help others.” 

Want to learn more about how people with disabilities in the SourceAmerica nonprofit network are breaking barriers? Check out our Success Stories and Videos.