Yesterday, I was privileged to join a small group of Gulfstream volunteers for a tour of the new Goodwill of Southeast Georgia’s Opportunity Center. The Center’s Mission Compliance and Advancement Coordinator, Melanie Goodwin, guided us through the facility, explaining their mission to help community members with barriers to employment – be it homelessness, poverty, or even single parenthood. “If you’re moving from couch to couch every night, you’re just trying to survive,” explained Goodwin. “Employment is secondary.”
Each week, Goodwill caseworkers meet with individuals and determine how to assist with their employment obstacles. One such barrier to overcome may be the lack of proper job skills. The Opportunity Center is working to eradicate this hindrance. On-site computer-based training will provide participants with Google digital skills and even Microsoft certifications. Better training leads to better jobs.
The Center’s goal is to help Savannah residents with barriers to employment earn meaningful work, thereby breaking the cycle of poverty.
“Forty-five percent of Savannah residents don’t have a high school diploma,” Goodwin explained. “Single mothers make an average income of fourteen-thousand dollars a year. To get out of poverty, workers have to make sixteen to seventeen dollars an hour. Helping the impoverished helps them give back to the community. No one who needs assistance is ever turned away.”
Following the tour, my fellow volunteers and I received goods outside the warehouse, rolled and replaced table donations for the conjoining retail center, and placed clothing in compressors that baled items for shipment to third world countries and disaster areas around the world. This final action assures that anything unwanted in our own community will still be used by someone in need across the globe.
The next time you clean out your closets, think of Goodwill and know that they’re working hard to eradicate poverty in our community. Your donations of gently used items can make a big difference in this quest.
A hearty thank you to Goodwill’s Melanie Goodwin and Gulfstream’s Al Wright for providing this highly educational and inspiring activity.