For many, the Goodwill is a place to donate and purchase new and gently used clothing, household goods and other items. Each year, Goodwill stores and donation centers divert millions of pounds of material from going directly into landfills. And these pounds of clothes and other items add up to one huge benefit: the betterment of the community. These donation centers and stores are the primary revenue generators for the non-profit organization to fulfill its commitment to helping people find jobs and support the communities they serve.
When Rev. Edgar J. Helms founded the organization in 1902 in Boston, he set the course for what has evolved into a nearly $6 billion non-profit organization that focuses on “being a source of assistance for individuals whose resources are depleted and providing employment and job-related training for people of limited employability such as youth, seniors, veterans and people with disabilities, criminal backgrounds and other specialized needs.”
To that end, Goodwill.org reports, “In 2015, Goodwill helped more than 312,000 people train for careers in industries such as banking, IT and health care, to name a few – and get the supporting services they needed to be successful – such as English language training, additional education or access to transportation and child care.”
Shauna Coyne has worked at the Goodwill of Central Arizona store in Prescott Valley for the last five years. “I started working here when I was in high school; few places hire teenagers, but Goodwill does,” Coyne said. “The managers gave me the flexibility I needed to still go to school and play sports. I started as a cashier and now I work in various areas; my favorite area is miscellaneous merchandise. The career center has been very helpful to me and I tell all my friends about it, as well.”
Currently, Goodwill Industries of Northern Arizona has approximately 200 employees, 160 of whom are full-time employees with benefits. Nearly 25 percent of the workforce are people with disabilities.
But like many other non-profit identities throughout Northern Arizona, the organization has faced some lean times. Goodwill Industries of Northern Arizona, which operates in Yavapai, Coconino, Mohave counties, has been struggling financially.
David Hirsch, president and CEO of Goodwill Industries of Northern Arizona, says the financial strain is primarily the result of increased costs, competition, sluggish sales and also the new minimum wage. “People have become very savvy shoppers and they have many more shopping options. From online shopping to retail stores, shoppers are able to find almost anything they want for any price. And with the recession, people have not been purchasing new items, which means they are not donating used items. [Fewer] donations and decreased revenue was putting a strain on the organization.”
Eliminating services, closing stores and laying off employees is not the right option for the Northern Arizona organization, and Goodwill of Central Arizona does not want to see its sister organization go down this path. To create a sustainable financial plan for the northern region, the organizations have recently entered into preliminarily merger discussions that would form Goodwill Industries of Central and Northern Arizona. The Board of Directors for both organizations and Goodwill Industries International, Inc., would have to approve the proposed merger.
The larger Central Arizona organization, which serves Maricopa and Yuma counties and part of Yavapai County, is better financially situated to help support the smaller Northern Arizona organization, which serves a larger demographic region.
“Our stores are the revenue generators for the employment, job training and career services we provide to the residents of Northern Arizona,” Hirsch said.
Tim O’Neal, president and chief executive officer of Goodwill of Central Arizona, agrees with Hirsch regarding the merger, “We are confident that a merger between our two organizations is an opportunity for us to significantly strengthen resources and deliver a higher level of service to more people in need. Our top priority is to provide the people of Arizona with the resources and support they need to secure sustainable employment and provide a better quality of life for themselves and their families.” QCBN
Shauna Coyne has worked at the Goodwill of Central Arizona store in Prescott Valley since she was 16 years old. She started as a cashier and now works in various areas of the store, but the misc. merchandise is her favorite.
Photo by Starla S. Collins