SARASOTA/BRADENTON, FL – For the past seven years, Shannon Lummert-Helmer has led the team at the Honore retail location in Sarasota to unprecedented success. Since taking the helm, her team has grown from 60 to more than 90 team members, has become the top revenue generator for all Goodwill stores in Florida, and ranks fifth in the nation out of approximately 2,800 stores. Next week, she will bid her team farewell and take charge at a new Goodwill store location at 3501 Cortez Road West in Bradenton; store is scheduled to open in April.
Lummert-Helmer is not your traditional retail store manager. The striking woman, born in 1959 in Manatee Memorial Hospital and raised in Palmetto, worked for Abraham & Straus (A & S) in Hempstead, NY, served as a production manager in Hollywood, spent five years working for a film production company in Germany, then took a detour in Atlanta, Ga. when her (now ex) husband got transferred. Upon her return to her hometown, she immersed herself in the retail world. But it wasn’t until she was hired by Goodwill Manasota that she found her true calling and her true professional home.
Lummert-Helmer was involved in many activities as a child. She sang with the Palmetto High School Chorus and was the first student from Manatee County to attend All-State Choir every year from grade 6 through 12. She participated with Manatee Players in many musicals throughout the years. However, her dream was to become an archeologist – she lived for her summers enrolled in youth programs at the Bishop Planetarium.
Plans changed when she received a scholarship to Florida State University from Entre Nous and a local music organization: her initial studies included a major in hotel restaurant management with a minor in music but later switched to business administration. Then she crisscrossed the country and globe-trotted, with jobs in the entertainment and retail industries. More than eight years ago, while working in the Beall’s Outlet corporate office, Lummert-Helmer met someone in the Goodwill Manasota human resources department who convinced her to apply for a position as assistant team leader at a local retail location.
She says the organization’s commitment to empower those with disabilities was very attractive to her. “My father’s older brother was mentally and physically disabled and I learned early on that everyone has a purpose and place on this planet,” she said. “Through the years, I became wiser to the struggles of others and I knew that I somehow wanted to be a positive light in their lives.”
One year after getting the job, she interviewed for the manager position at the Honore location. Business has been going nowhere but up since then.
She credits her mother for helping to inspire her momentous work ethic and her deep concern for others, qualities that have made her really appreciate the work Goodwill does for the community. “My mom was from a family that the poor called poor, so I learned early on that we should never look down on others but to recognize and encourage those who are in need,” she says. “I love that we are not a handout but, rather, a hand up. I really feel as if people just want a chance. When you give them that opportunity, the possibilities are endless.”
Next week, Lummert-Helmer will bid farewell to her Honore team to help open Goodwill’s new store on Cortez Road. She has no immediate plans to stop doing what she loves to do.
“I hope to retire someday with this organization or maybe they will wheel me out feet first, who knows?” she laughs. “But as long as I have the strength and my sanity, I want to continue to work toward the mission of changing lives through the power of work. I will always be a voice for those who need to be heard.”
“Shannon embodies the very best of what we look for at Goodwill. She’s motivated, hardworking, compassionate, and a creative problem-solver, with truly remarkable leadership skills,” says Goodwill Manasota president and CEO Bob Rosinsky. “She has contributed tremendously to our success at the Honore location and we know she will continue doing great work at our new Cortez store. We are grateful to Shannon for her commitment to our organization and to our mission.”
About Goodwill Manasota
Goodwill Manasota is an industry-leading, 501(c)(3), not-for-profit organization that changes lives through the power of work. With the sales of donated goods and philanthropic donations, Goodwill is able to assist people with disabilities and other barriers to employment by providing job skills training and employment opportunities. In 2016, Goodwill Manasota served 28,207 people, placed 755 people in jobs and assisted 240 veterans as they reintegrated back into the civilian workforce. Goodwill Manasota’s economic impact back to the community is worth $92.1 million. Goodwill is one of the pioneers of the reduce-reuse-recycle movement and this past year diverted more than 40 million pounds out of the landfill. We accomplish our mission through a network of Good Neighbor Centers in Sarasota, Manatee, Hardee and DeSoto counties and our Mission Development Services (MDS) around North America. Goodwill Manasota is accountable to a local Board of Directors. Goodwill Manasota, in essence, belongs to this community and is not owned by any individual or company. For more information, visit www.experiencegoodwill.org.