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Goodwill of Greater Washington: Transforming Our Community

By Mariah Craven on May 9th, 2013


Last week, Women’s Foundation President Nicky Goren spoke on a panel about the importance of giving boldly. While the message was geared toward donors, it was easily applicable to the foundations and nonprofits that serve our community. In order to create real change, we all have to be willing to be bold, strategic, and take risks. This, she explained, is why The Women’s Foundation has invested in Goodwill and their job training programs for nearly eight years.

Goodwill’s work here in the Washington metro area is representative of the change that needs to happen in order to become a great community with a viable workforce. Goodwill trains employees they themselves would be willing to hire (and often do). They are strategic about their programs, looking to the future to find jobs that will likely be in high demand and offer opportunities for growth. And they’re vigilant, correcting course when they see ways to be even more successful.

Several years ago, The Women’s Foundation funded a construction training program at Goodwill geared toward women. When the economy slowed and women trainees faced challenges in getting into and remaining in construction jobs, Goodwill changed their strategy in order to be more effective.

Kieva, a woman I met after she finished Goodwill’s training, participated in the construction program. After deciding that it wasn’t the field she wanted to be in and struggling to coordinate child care and the early construction hours, she used Goodwill’s training and resources to find and interview for a job at a Washington hotel. “I took those things that I learned here and got the job on the spot,” she told me.

She also shared how much better life for her and her five-year-old daughter was since she got a job with benefits, good wages, and a career pathway. When we met, she was looking forward to being able to buy Christmas gifts and save for the future.

Goodwill’s ability to tune in to the needs of the community and the people they serve has led the organization to better understand the unique challenges faced by the populations they serve. The Women’s Foundation has been particularly impressed by Goodwill’s commitment to using a gender lens in their programming, offering case management and wraparound services specifically geared towards women. And because Goodwill lives its values, those services are available to staff as well as clients.

During Goodwill Industries Week (May 5-11), The Women’s Foundation congratulates Goodwill on their incredible accomplishments. And more importantly, we want to thank Goodwill of Greater Washington for creating the change that is transforming our community.

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