MIDDLEPORT — Mayor Sandy Iannarelli visited the local Goodwill store recently to read a proclamation, part of Goodwill Industries Week celebrations.
The 2nd Avenue location hosted the company’s regional executive staff and the Middleport mayor to highlight their community involvement, both in operating the store and the nonprofit’s larger focus.
Middleport location manager Cassandra Bagent says she strives to keep the retail store “clean and organized” as they place inventory.
“All our stock is donated,” she said. “Without the community, we would have empty racks.”
Iannarelli agreed, saying, “This place serves all in our community, and they have such high-quality merchandise.”
Food and drinks were available to shoppers during the event, which “gives us an opportunity to talk about our mission,” according to Lenore Mason, executive and CEO of Goodwill Industries of Southern Ohio Inc. Mason is the regional manager for Goodwill in Ohio and Kentucky, whose stores fund the company’s training and employment programs for the disabled and disadvantaged.
“We want to help people find employment and keep employment. This leads to independence at work and through work,” Mason said. “Everyone can contribute, and bringing that to the workplace lifts everyone.”
“Our customers make our mission possible, and we turn their generosity into these programs.”
Reading from the proclamation, Iannarelli urged “all citizens to give support to Goodwill Industries in recognition of its ability to maximize and individual’s contribution to self, family, and community.”
Goodwill Industries of Southern Ohio Inc. (GISO) was chartered by the state as a non-profit, charitable organization on Sept. 16, 1977. Their blue donation bins can be spotted all around the area, and a tremendous amount of contributions are accepted at store locations. The donations are processed and resold, recycling at the local level. Retail profits fund the organization’s overall objective, their employment and training efforts targeting underprivileged groups.
Christina Stone is the vocational rehabilitation manager for the regional office in Portsmouth. She said the program exists for individuals with disabilities or deemed disadvantaged, and seeks to provide them with job-seeking assistance and training, following up with help adjusting in workplaces. This demographic presents unique challenges to standard recruiters, but Goodwill Industries specializes in bringing this overlooked group into the workforce.
Stone contends the benefits far outweigh the difficulties and “helping people be involved to their ability helps the whole community” by lowering unemployment and providing independence to greater numbers of people.
Meigs businesses feel the results by acquiring productive workers. Through Goodwill of Southern Ohio, 30 individuals were placed locally last year, and nine have already been found employment this year.
The mayor’s proclamation designated May 1 through May 7 Goodwill Industries Week in Middleport and praised “the delivery of additional services and aid to those that value self-sufficiency and hard work.”
Goodwill’s marketing director for the region, Mary May, said, “Every Goodwill location celebrates different ways, this one is a thank-you to our donors and to get the word out about Cristina’s (Stone) work. We want people who need help to know about us, and we want to let the community know what we are doing and how much we appreciate their support.”