Goodwill grows through partnerships

Goodwill Industries of Central North Carolina
Goodwill Industries of Central North Carolina

Todd Cohen

GREENSBORO, N.C. — Last year, Second Harvest Food Bank of Northwest North Carolina got 10,000 pounds of canned food donated by customers at retail stores that Goodwill Industries of Central North Carolina operates in Alamance, Caswell, Guilford, Randolph and Rockingham counties.

Schools in those same counties last year got thousands of dollars in cash and vouchers from Goodwill for teachers to purchase supplies in return for 87,000 pounds of clothing and other items the schools collected for Goodwill.

And a job fair Goodwill hosted this year in partnership with the Greensboro Grasshoppers baseball team landed seasonal jobs with the team for 40 people trained by Goodwill.

“We want to align our efforts with others that share our vision of helping people transition into the competitive workplace,” says Rick Gorham, president and CEO of Greensboro-based Goodwill.

Operating with 315 employees and an annual budget of $19 million, Goodwill last year served nearly 10,000 individuals, placing 1,800 of them into competitive jobs.

Goodwill runs 17 retail stores in the five counties and operates community resource centers that provide computer labs in Guilford, Rockingham and Randolph counties staffed by instructors from Guilford Technical Community College, Randolph Community College and Rockingham Community College.

Goodwill also has developed an allied-health program on the campus of Rockingham Community College that supports its efforts to train individuals for health-care jobs.

And it is assessing a possible plan to develop a job-network computer lab in partnership with Alamance Community College.

Goodwill, many of whose clients are people with physical and developmental disabilities, provides computer-skills training; educational programs to help individuals earn a degree that is equivalent to a high-school diploma; and, in Rockingham County, training for emerging certified nurses, pharmacy technicians, and specialists in medical billing and coding.

Goodwill also offers a re-entry program funded through the North Carolina Governor’s Crime Commission that targets adjudicated individuals who have completed their sentencing, helping them move back into the world of work.

The organization generates 75 percent of its revenue from its retail stores, which sell donated goods such as clothing, gently-used items, hard goods, bicycles, furniture and kitchen appliances; 15 percent from its career-services programs, which are funded through a contract with the state Division of Vocational Rehabilitation Services, foundation grants, and fees from insurance companies to help their clients return to work; and 10 percent from businesses that outsource to Goodwill commercial services such as packaging, shrink-wrapping and collating.

Gorham says partnerships are key components of Goodwill’s strategy.

In a brand-new partnership, for example, Goodwill is giving donated furniture it cannot repair and resell to Barnabas Network, a local furniture bank that will give the furniture to first-time homeowners referred by local departments of social services.

In another new partnership, with Bank of America, 15 branch managers volunteer as mentors to help Goodwill clients understand financial planning and budgeting.

In a third partnership, Summit House, which provides temporary housing for women and children in crisis, solicits and collects donated goods for Goodwill’s retail stores, and in return receives vouchers its clients can use to shop in the stores.

In another new partnership, developed with the Guilford County Homeowners Association, Goodwill has distributed collection bins at the homes of several hundred homeowners in the Reedy Fork community who have signed up to donate items for Goodwill’s retail stores, with Goodwill picking up the items once a month.

And officials of the city of Eden recently asked Goodwill to open and manage a career center in partnership with Rockingham Community College, helping local citizens move into competitive jobs.

Goodwill aims to expand the program to other communities, Gorham says.

“Anything we do,” he says, “is considered a collaboration or partnership.”

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