Goodwill helps build the community

When someone walks into a Goodwill store they are greeted with aisles of potential new treasures. What they probably don’t realize is the impact they are making by simply deciding to shop there. Money spent at Goodwill goes towards providing opportunities for jobseekers with job training programs, helping people prepare for careers and job placements that fit their skillsets.

Crystal Hardesty, Goodwill Upstate/Midlands Director of Marketing/PR says, “Goodwill is community based in that we are solely supported by the community. We assist 16 counties in South Carolina to help individuals become independent citizens.” Goodwill has been able to position themselves in a way to be easily accessed by individuals that need their services. A person can learn about the services Goodwill offers while running a daily shopping errand to pick up much needed items. Some of these services might be surprising, but a Goodwill representative is happy to assist them or figure out a more convenient time to return. While many of the services offered by Goodwill are available through other organizations, the convenience of making them available in high traffic areas is a huge benefit to users.  “One of the things that we have found to work really well is our Work Readiness Class,” Crystal continues, “If there are people that are coming into a training program they complete the class during their first week. If they are coming through from Job Connections the class is done on a less formal basis, but we are working with them on their soft skills.”

As a Community Based Organization (CBO), Goodwill not only benefits the jobseeker, but the community as a whole. Employers are engaged by the employment specialists on staff who make businesses aware of the services available. Because Goodwill is integrated within small communities the employment specialists are able to attend local meetings and find out the needs of the community.

With an extensive list of services offered, Goodwill seeks collaboration with other organizations and businesses to ensure that the community needs are met. While Goodwill is a part of several programs, there is one in particular that sticks out to Crystal; the Youth Build Greenville Grant provided by the U.S. Department of Labor. Through the grant youth are able to obtain their GED, learn construction skills and life skills. Crystal said, “This was such a momentous collaboration because there were 15 to 20 organizations that are a part of this grant from the beginning to help youth in our community succeed.” In the initial stages of the grant Greenville Revitalization Corporation helped identify a location for the program.  With a dedicated “home” the Home Builders Institute provided a trainer to teach the participants construction skills. Habitat of Humanity of Greenville County then helps them take these skills out of the classroom and apply them to the community by inviting them to participate in building houses for the community. They have been able to commit to the construction of three houses through the first iteration of the grant.  Another key partner in this grant has been Life Long Learning who has provided the kids with the tools to attain their GED’s and then presents the GEDs to them at a graduation ceremony. Throughout the grant process Goodwill has acted as the operator of the grant. Of course these are only a few of the partners that have been a part of this, all with different missions, but they have all come together to help the community.