Many people know Goodwill by its retail stores — as a place to donate unwanted items or to shop for bargains. What isn’t as widely understood, however, is that proceeds from those stores fund job training programs for people with barriers to employment.
“The perception that Goodwill is about old clothes is a challenge,” explains Bill Oakley, President and CEO of Goodwill Industries of Central Florida. “At our stores throughout Central Florida, we sell items families donate and use the revenue to fund our job training programs and community-based services. At Goodwill, ‘Donations = Jobs.’ "
Goodwill generates opportunities for people to achieve economic stability and build strong families and vibrant communities by offering job training, employment placement services and other community-based programs for people who have a disability, lack education or job experience, or face employment challenges. At the organization’s Job Connection Centers, job seekers can research and pursue employment opportunities through a wide range of free services.
A Networking Center provides the latest job leads, as well as copy and fax equipment to apply for them. The Job Club offers interview skills training, job search advice and résumé writing assistance. The Community Resources Library provides a variety of information about local services and assistance with life changes. In addition, Goodwill also offers a “Hello Line” that enables those without phone service to receive calls from prospective employers.
Goodwill’s impact on Central Florida is especially important during the holiday season, when many people and businesses are considering charitable donations. For every 24 pounds of donations (about two loads of laundry), Goodwill is able to connect one person to critical employment training and placement programs.
“There are many ways the community can support our mission, both during the holidays — and year-round,” adds Bill. “Encouraging children to donate toys before receiving new gifts, cleaning out closets, or even making a cash donation are all simple ways to help.”
In 2012, Goodwill provided vocational services to 25,500 Central Floridians and helped place nearly 5,000 of them with employers, enabling them to become more self-sufficient and better provide for themselves and their families. The work may seem daunting to some, but Bill’s belief in Goodwill and its mission keep him inspired about the possibilities and focused on the organization’s future.
“I’m continually moved by the people we serve. Many times they are in very difficult circumstances, and when I see what they’re able to achieve… it’s truly amazing,” says Bill. “And I wonder if I were in their shoes, if I could do the same. It’s both humbling and inspiring.”
For more information about Goodwill Industries of Central Florida, visit www.goodwillcfl.org.