16 Oct Doing Well by Doing Good(will)
Despite tepid growth in the region’s economy, many employers are finding it a challenge to recruit willing and qualified employees. Many applicants lack skills while others may be challenged by personal circumstances such as day care or transportation that make it hard to get and keep a good job. For employers and prospective employees, there’s a little known resource for employment, training and support – it’s Goodwill of Northern New England.
What’s it all about?
For the vast majority of us, Goodwill is a mecca for quality used clothing, furniture and household goods – valuable items that might otherwise end up in a landfill or languish in a garage or attic. That’s how Goodwill began – Rev. Edgar J. Helms was a Methodist minister in Boston who solicited the wealthy homeowners of Beacon Hill for their cast-offs. With the certain knowledge that work provides dignity and self worth, he trained those on the short end of the stick to repair and prepare those used items for resale and then plowed the profits back into more training and outreach.
With a timeless mission, Helms said Goodwill Industries is an “industrial program as well as a social service enterprise…a provider of employment, training and rehabilitation for people of limited employability, and a source of temporary assistance for individuals whose resources were depleted.”
Today, Goodwill Industries is so much more. Here in Northern New England, they provide job training, facilitate free tax preparation, manage group homes for the developmentally disabled and even provide training and rehabilitation for those with brain injuries. Though they work with governments and foundations, most of their operating capital comes from the 32 stores in Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont. Currently, Goodwill NNE employs about 2,400 people.
Adult services include
- Job Connection Services help prospective employees over and through the obstacles that make gainful steady employment a challenge such as day care, transportation and family members whose abuse, addiction or mental capacity may inhibit getting and keeping a job.
- Their Senior Community Service Employment Program helps those over 55 transition to new work opportunities often providing a paycheck while they receive on-the-job training at a local employer. Imagine being a talented displaced paper machine operator in a service economy and you get a clear picture of the need for re-training.
- The STEM Training & Jobs Program works with employers requiring high skills by providing qualified trainees that may simply need skills upgrades in order to be hired full time.
- AgrAbility that focuses on farmers with chronic health conditions or disabilities
- Goodwill manages AmeriCorps programs that place volunteers in local non-profits, municipalities and schools
- Veterans also can access the Goodwill Veterans Fund that helps former soldiers navigate their way into the civilian workforce. The fund also helps support the families of veterans. Car repairs, licensing fees and exams, education and travel expenses are just some of the ways Goodwill supports eligible vets.
For those with health issues but who still have work capacity and a desire to be employed, Goodwill, again, assists people through the challenges of physical limitations, deafness, mental illness, acquired brain injuries or intellectual disabilities. Speech pathologists occupational therapists and certified assertive technology professionals all pitch in to address the needs of the entire person.
The beauty of their workforce services is that employers can have a trial period with people who are working toward full time positions. Everyone wants to be sure there’s a good fit. As one hi-tech employer recently said, “We don’t accept second-best and we’ve never been disappointed with those coming to us through Goodwill.”
High praise with good reason. For individuals, Goodwill provides a path to economic stability. For employers, it’s a good way to manage the risk of not having enough skilled workers. And for society, there is no better welfare program than a good job.
If you want to help, keep dropping off those clothes and home goods, make an outright donation or simply host a gathering of employers to introduce them to the benefits of doing well by doing Good(will).