Every year during the first week of May, Goodwill agencies around the country celebrate the fulfillment of their collective mission – transforming lives and communities through the power of education and employment. It’s Goodwill Industries Week, everyone!!
While this year’s celebration is a bit muted compared to previous years, for reasons that require no explanation, the recognition of the critical need for Goodwill’s mission and the innovative approach the organization is taking towards its continued fulfillment is no less important. One could argue that the need is even greater.
Goodwill of Greater Washington (GGW) had to furlough more than 600 associates when it closed its stores for the health and safety of its team members and shoppers back in March. Additional employees were furloughed at the administrative level. Anyone who remained to keep the organization afloat took a healthy pay cut. Like many other businesses and charities, Goodwill is feeling the pinch – big time.
However, Goodwill is innovative and adaptive if nothing else.
While GGW’s primary source of income has been effectively cut off, Goodwill pivoted to a more traditional fundraising model – a revenue strategy that until now only generated about 2% of GGW’s annual income. In the blink of an eye, Goodwill needed to rely on a revenue approach that couldn’t possibly make up the lost retail income – not in a year, and certainly not in a few weeks. But what it could do was rely on the passion for Goodwill shared by thousands of shoppers, donors, volunteers and advocates to help offset those losses and support its furloughed associates who are struggling.
In less than a month Goodwill had raised enough money to extend the healthcare coverage for all those furloughed associates for another three months. With the fear and uncertainty being faced by each of those valued individuals, how they were going to manage their healthcare was one question they no longer needed to lose sleep over for a while longer.
When informed of the insurance coverage extension one furloughed associate, who relies on dialysis, said she just wanted to cry she was so grateful. It was a human act of comfort and care by hundreds of donors she’ll never know.
While GGW is now trying to raise funds to help the broader community through the development of a virtual career center to help anyone who needs assistance with job search and preparation skills, it never forgot that its mission begins at home – serving those people who have served Goodwill for so long. GGW continues to maintain daily contact with its furloughed employees through a team of case managers called RISE coaches, an internal text messaging system, and a private Facebook group where information is shared in an empathetic and supportive environment. Goodwill wants each of them to know that they are not alone and that the organization will stand by them for as long as it can.
Goodwill and its furloughed associates are all anxious for the day its retail stores can reopen, but for just this one week we will join together to recognize our service to one another and pray that it will make us all a little stronger when this collective nightmare comes to an end.
Thank you to everyone who has been there in Goodwill’s time of need. Your support will pay dividends far beyond today. During this year’s Goodwill Industries Week – WE CELEBRATE YOU!