Every time you shop or donate items to a Goodwill store, you are playing a pivotal role in removing barriers for fellow Kentucky residents seeking a second chance – and the opportunity to turn their lives around.
Though the 67 retail locations operated by Goodwill Industries of Kentucky might look like other thrift store establishments, they are much more. Nearly 90 cents of every dollar generated by the stores support programs and services that give people a fighting chance to overcome disadvantages such as mental or physical disabilities, drug and alcohol addiction, no housing or transportation, lack of education, under-employment, and perpetual poverty to become thriving, prospering members of society.
“We give people a hand up, not a handout so they can experience the dignity and independence that comes with earning a paycheck and achieving self-sufficiency,” explained Rena Sharpe, chief operating officer at Goodwill Industries of Kentucky.
In the Louisville area, Goodwill’s mission, role and space all have been enhanced by the recently opened Resource Center, which gives people the opportunity to meet with Goodwill career coaches and local partners for help with a variety of services aimed at helping them attain stability in their lives, achieve their career goals and, most importantly, become self-sufficient. At one place, clients can concentrate on an array of subjects that lead to success, including budgeting, financial and computer skills, and forklift accreditations. Behavioral, mental, and spiritual health support services also are available, along with assistance that will help them survive as they strive to succeed, such as housing, addiction treatment, legal aid, and food stamps.
And, of course, they can learn about all the programs offered by Goodwill.
“We now have many resources under one roof,” Sharpe said. “As we build this model out in Louisville, we plan to replicate it throughout the state. We already have plans to expand this service model to other markets and with other partners.”
Last year, despite the economic and medical issues created by the COVID-19 pandemic, Goodwill Industries of Kentucky worked with 750 local employers to place more than 2,000 people in meaningful jobs. In 2021, Sharpe expects to eclipse that number.
“We also consider working at Goodwill a potential first starts for many individuals. Our goal is to have them move up in Goodwill or connect them with our employee-partners,” she added.
Goodwill offers its clients a variety of services, including soft skills, reintegration programs, resume building, financial and digital literacy, transportation, housing, dental work, and education opportunities. Focusing on four distinct phases – barrier removal, career path planning, training, and credentialing and permanent placement – the nonprofit organization provides individualized programs aimed at self-sufficiency.
An important aspect of Goodwill’s mission involves helping clients overcome the problem of having broken the law in the past through expungement.
“We want to help them clear their criminal record. In Kentucky, we’re working on lobbying with that. Even if you don’t mess up during parole, you still have your record on the books, and that keeps people from seeking the kind of employment that leads them to self-sufficiency,” Sharpe pointed out.
As Goodwill Industries of Kentucky evolves to further its mission to serve those who are willing to help themselves, the nonprofit organization maintains its dedication to help people in need through the “profit” it earns at its stores across the state.
“We don’t buy new products. We sell gently used items that people decided they don’t want anymore. We give them a second chance, just like we strive to give our clients a second chance,” Sharpe said.
To learn more about how you can help Goodwill Industries of Kentucky help others, call 502-585-5221 or visit www.GoodwillKY.org.