Steven Nickerson, who works weekends scanning donated books at the Goodwill store in Ellsworth, has earned a reputation for productivity and innovation in the seven months he's been employed there. He's earned this reputation, along with a bachelor's and master's degree, despite being legally blind. PHOTO BY STEPHEN FAY

Though legally blind, Lamoine man perseveres to see the job through

ELLSWORTH — A condition known as ocular albinism has affected Steven Nickerson’s eyesight so severely that he is legally blind. But he still reads the fine print.

Nickerson, 27, is the book expert at the Ellsworth Goodwill store. His job is to assess the value of the many thousands of books donated to the local store. Using a scanner and a software program that reads books’ barcodes, Nickerson assigns individual volumes to one of three categories: recycling, if a book is damaged or moldy; ready for sale at the Ellsworth store or, if a book is particularly fine or valuable, best to sell on Goodwill’s eCommerce site.

“It’s all about value,” he said.

Nickerson’s values extend well beyond books and his part-time job. He’s determined and conscientious, which has a lot to do with his managing to earn a bachelor’s degree in secondary education, a master’s degree in instructional technology and a teaching certificate.

He’s working to land a full-time position teaching instructional technology or social studies at the 7-12 grade level. Already he leads professional development workshops for Regional School Unit (RSU) 24 staff in the use of technology in the classroom. He also teaches an adult education class in college preparation and fills in as a substitute teacher in Ellsworth and RSU 24 classrooms.

“I was taught that the only way to get ahead in life is to work for it,” Nickerson said. “That means giving 100 percent at my jobs.”

Including his job at Goodwill.

“He’s one of our hardest workers,” said Heather Steeves, content manager at Goodwill of Northern New England. “He’s scanned more than 20,000 books and reinvented how we do the task.”

A Lamoine native, Nickerson sorts an average of 529 books a day. But he put his back into it recently and handled 1,004.

Nikki Birmingham, manager of the Ellsworth store, said Nickerson has a great work ethic.

That’s no accident.

“By slacking off,” Nickerson said, “I would be letting down my co-workers, students, the community, the Goodwill brand and myself.”

Stephen Fay

Stephen Fay

Managing Editor at The Ellsworth American
Stephen Fay, managing editor of The Ellsworth American since 1996, is a third-generation Californian. Starting out as a news reporter in 1974, he has been an editor since 1976, working in Massachusetts, Connecticut and Vermont before settling in Ellsworth with his wife and two daughters. [email protected]
Stephen Fay

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