Randy and Shelley Wimberly, owners of Randy’s Garage, allowed Sergio Gomez, a student with a disability and a penchant for cars, to intern at their LaBelle garage during the summer of 2012.
Gomez exemplified excellent work ethics, so Randy and staff chose to invest their time to train and support the high school student in all aspects of his life, particularly to help him become a mechanic. Randy Wimberly attended Gomez’s graduation from LaBelle High School in 2013 and assisted in finding additional part-time work for him.
Barbara Key-Ramos, Goodwill’s Able Trust High School High Tech program manager for Hendry and Glades counties, first met the couple while recruiting employers to mentor her students during the summer of 2012. The Able Trust High School High Tech program works with students with disabilities to ensure a career interest path for vocational and post-secondary education.
Key-Ramos helped Gomez explore options and supported his career path after being paired with Randy. Gomez continued his post-secondary education at Fort Myers Technical College and subsequently became a certified mechanic.
“My experience with this wonderful employer and his staff has been nothing but positive from day one. The relationship that was initially formed in 2012 until now is the model of social capital relationship investment,” Key-Ramos said. “Sergio is happy. He has his certification in mechanics and has higher aspirations to be a great mechanic like Randy Wimberly.”
Goodwill is not the only organization to recognize the Wimberlys’ investment in the community. In 2015, the couple received the Automotive Youth Educational Systems Award from the Fort Myers Institute of Technology. AYES includes partners among the automotive industry, Florida Departments of Education and Labor, local dealerships and NATEF-accredited high schools.
Shelley Wimberly serves on the High School High Tech Business Advisory Council and brings community awareness to the program in Hendry County.