The Times They Are A-Changin’

A teenager in the ‘60s, I remember the popular Bob Dylan song, “The Times They Are A-Changin’” as the rallying cry for a generation. At times, it seemed impossible that our country would ever come together. But we did and today we continue to see our times changing . . . just in different ways.

Some of the most stressful times of our lives steam from change. Getting married, buying a home, and changing jobs are just a few of the life changes that can cause angst and uneasiness in our everyday lives. But typically, you end up happier once you have navigated the waters of change.

At Goodwill we are not immune to the changes going on in the world around us. As I think about the key areas that will impact Goodwill, I know we must navigate through changes in program funding sources, the ideological shift in the way that individuals, particularly with disabilities, wish to receive services, and the demand for different shopping experiences and what that means for Goodwill.

We were recently notified by the United Way Roanoke Valley that funding for Goodwill programs and services were being eliminated. The notification read, “Our community experienced substantial volatility and dynamic change in the business landscape this year. When such shifts take place in the corporate area, the ripple effect is often significant within the nonprofit sector. United Way felt the impact of these changes in the form of a very challenging 2016 fundraising campaign.” For Goodwill, this means funding budgeted to help support three programs disappeared and we must subsidize with revenues we are able to generate through internal operations, such as Donated Goods and the efforts of our Development team. The Times They Are A-Changin’  

Our communities are in a transition from a period where work centers, such as the ones that Goodwill operates in Roanoke and Radford, were the norm and what were preferred by families of individuals with disabilities. But today, views have changed and society and families prefer for their loved ones with a disability to work in a community setting instead of work center environments. This ideological shift and changes to laws means that Goodwill has to change, too. We have been working with individuals that we serve over the past several years to help transition individuals to community employment or day support services. The Times They Are A-Changin’  

Brick and mortar retail stores nationwide are seeing fewer and fewer people walk through the doors as customers are choosing to shop online. At Goodwill this reduced foot traffic means fewer sales and therefore fewer dollars to support job training and employment programs. In order to be able to continue to provide the job training and employment programs at the heart of our mission we are meeting customers where they choose to shop; either in-store or on-line. Some customers love the opportunity for the expanded selection of items that they find in our online Goodwill store. Others are concerned that the change means their local Goodwill will be void of treasures. I can assure you that your local Goodwill stores, although they may look a little different in their physical appearance these days, remain a treasure trove, and all stores, whether online or around the corner, still provide critical revenues to support job training and employment programs right here in your community. The Times They Are A-Changin’  

Goodwill is strong and I am excited to see what the future holds for not only our organization, but the individuals we serve and for those that we have yet to meet. At Goodwill, when we successfully navigate change the end result is all about the happiness of the people that we serve, their ability to contribute to their communities, and watching them achieve greater independence.

If nothing ever changed there’d be no butterflies. ~Source Unknown

It’s a #LaborOfLove

I grew up in Southeastern Ohio in the 1950’s.  I was one of six children.  We lived in a very rural area in the Appalachian region.  There were small farms, and it was the heart of the strip mines.  It was an economically depressed community.  There were few jobs, but people had a resiliency and they took care of themselves and their families.

I worked many jobs as a young man.  I was a potter, worked as a carpenter, planted trees in the strip mines, worked in a factory and drove a forklift, and was a substitute teacher among other things.  But in 1974 I was lucky enough to find my way to the Goodwill in Zanesville, Ohio.  Forty-two years later, I’m still as passionate about helping people find meaningful work as I was that first day on the job in 1974. 

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, there were 5.6 million job openings in the United States at the end of June. In observance of Labor Day, between August 30 and September 6, Goodwills across the country are challenging people to sign Goodwill’s #LaborOfLove pledge. The hope is to spread awareness about Goodwill and the importance of job placement and training programs for people looking for employment.

By signing the #LaborofLove pledge, you can raise awareness about Goodwill’s job training programs that assist people in obtaining skills and industry-recognized credentials.  Last year, our Goodwill helped individuals earn more than 830 credentials and assisted 4,200 people to find jobs right here in Central and Southwest Virginia.

Goodwill wants to help business and industry close the skills gap in today’s workforce. This requires commitment to retraining and educating our workforce. Today you can help by clicking here to learn more about Goodwill and how individuals can support our efforts to put people to work.