Prior to 1979, local individuals had access to Goodwill programming through Akron’s Goodwill chapter. In 1980, a group of Wayne County business leaders mobilized to form Goodwill Industries of Wayne County, Inc., a 501(c) 3 nonprofit organization, and ten years later the agency expanded to include Holmes County. Like the other Goodwill affiliates of Goodwill Industries International, Goodwill Industries of Wayne and Holmes Counties operates independently, guided by its own local Board of Trustees made up of diverse community leaders. In this way, local Goodwill agencies are able to develop programs based on the needs of their own unique communities.
Goodwill provides participants with training to obtain employment so that they can gain a sense of self-sufficiency, pride, and accomplishment while decreasing their reliance on public assistance programs. While Goodwill’s programs are designed to help all job seekers, the majority of participants report a disabling condition; a lack of literacy, high school equivalency (diploma or GED), or reliable transportation; a past criminal record; or a history of substance abuse.
Three divisions work together to provide Goodwill’s programming: Workforce Development, which is at the core of the Mission; Industrial Services, which works with local manufacturers; and Retail/Donated Goods, whereby donated items are sold at retail stores or recycled/repurposed. Both Industrial Services and Retail/Donated Goods provide on-the-job training opportunities for program participants while generating revenue for the Workforce Development division, which provides GED preparation, computer training, work and life skills training, resume writing, interview preparation, job-specific training, and other essential employment support.
Goodwill operates five stores within the two-county service area in Wooster, Orrville, Rittman, Millersburg, and Loudonville, generating income to provide employment training and services to local individuals with barriers to employment. Each year, Goodwill Industries of Wayne and Holmes Counties’ programming touches nearly 2,000 local individuals, helping them to reach their highest levels of independence and success through training and employment related services.
Goodwill Industries International (GII)
Goodwill Industries International was founded in 1902 in Boston by a Methodist minister who collected used household goods and clothing in wealthy areas of the city, then trained and hired poor individuals to mend and repair the items. He then resold the items to the people who repaired them, thus beginning the Goodwill philosophy of “a hand up, not a hand out.” Each year, millions of individuals benefit from programming provided by over 175 Goodwill Industries International member organizations.
Our Goodwill organization has had many different experiences over the last couple of years. Some were good, some were bad, and some were truly unique. After the exceptional and uncertain year of 2020, and the ups and downs of 2021, our team determined that we needed to go Back to the Basics.
The 2020 year was about safety, circumventing the new climate caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, and damage control. In 2021, we had to reinvent ourselves and learn how to navigate our operations and mission a little differently. We couldn’t simply rely on what we already knew or “how we have always done things,” instead we had to rely on good decision-making, the courage of our staff, and humility to lead us out of the darkness and towards success.
In the latter half of 2021 and throughout 2022, our team has and will continue to analyze what we do, how we do it, and most importantly, why we do it. The Leadership Team of our organization will be guiding our staff as we embark on a new and exciting journey to review and challenge our current core values. What better way to get back to the basics than to define not only WHO we are, but who we want to become? We will utilize tools, such as a Community Needs Assessment and a strategic planning process, and we will call on each of our employees to assist us as we build new cultural framework and design the road map for our future.
In this report, you will see many amazing successes. You will also notice that our financial snapshot was strong in 2021 with help from additional funding that carried us through the pandemic. However, that funding is no more, and we anticipate that 2022 will also be a volatile climate for our organization.
One major issue that our organization is currently struggling with is the lack of donations to our retail stores. Possibly, our issue stems from increased competition for donations in our area, or maybe the issue could be related to the growing popularity and ease of consumers selling their own gently used items online, or perhaps with the threat of recession looming near, people are simply holding onto items just a little bit longer.