11/24/2010 04:38 pm ET Updated Nov 17, 2011

The Power of a Smile

I have been thinking lately about some of the people I have known in my life who always seem to make me smile, whether I am actually with them or simply thinking about them. I believe this bit of reminiscing started when I had to say goodbye to an old family friend who passed away recently. We shared so many good times together over the years. He had such a zest for life and an ability to make everyone feel better, no matter the circumstances.

Then I thought about the woman who did the floral arrangements in one of the offices where I used to work. In addition to being a great florist, she loved to cook. I'm not sure how or why it started, but she began bringing food to our office. Pretty soon, it became a regular thing -- pork barbecue, casseroles, birthday cakes -- and everyone in the office looked forward to her offerings. She really had a knack for making everyone feel better, whether with her flowers or with her food.

I am heartened by the fact that these types of people exist all over the world, and I recently heard about one such person with the innate quality to bring smiles to those around her. Her name is Dawn Baxter, and she works in the janitorial services department for Goodwill Industries of Central Indiana, located in Indianapolis.

What is it like to work with Dawn? According to her site supervisor, Amy Kieckbusch, "[Dawn] certainly tries to do everything that we ask of her. And she's just really fun to be around. She makes the lunchroom and her work area a better place just with her sense of humor and her willingness and her desire to be here."

For her part, Dawn says simply, "I like working with the customers and the other Goodwill workers on a daily basis. I try to give my all." For Dawn, it's about doing a good job no matter what she's asked to do. And that's not always easy for her, though you'd never know it from her attitude. You see, Dawn uses a motorized wheelchair, and she has limitations with her fine motor skills.

Before she took her current job, Dawn had never done any cleaning. She'd never cleaned so much as a bathroom sink. But she was taught how to master a number of job skills through Goodwill training, and she's been doing a great job -- and making people around her smile -- for five years now.

Dawn says the training encouraged her to do better, to go the extra mile and to achieve success. If she hadn't pushed herself, there are so many people who would've never had their lives brightened by her presence on the job. But because she went through training and gives her all, she has been spreading her own brand of sunshine to all of the people she sees at work.

Dawn's supervisor says confidence was one of Dawn's biggest hurdles when she first started her job -- larger than any of her physical limitations. Dawn had been told for so long that she couldn't do things, so she started to believe it. But now, by focusing on things that she can do rather than on anything she might not be able to accomplish, Dawn continues to draw praise, and smiles, from all those she comes in contact with.

There. Doesn't that put a smile on your face? I know I have one on mine.