Goodwill About Much More than Just Clothes

Writing for BizVoice magazine has afforded me many eye-opening experiences. Case in point: While interviewing an interesting new company, Road Rage Fun Signs, I also met with Goodwill Industries of Central Indiana (an Indiana Chamber member, btw). Goodwill is working as a partner on the production of these signs, which are geared toward making roads safer by allowing drivers to notify each other about upcoming hazards.

Now, if you’re like me, you’ve always had a very positive impression of Goodwill, but only thought of them as a place to donate clothing, nightstands, and maybe even some Christmas-related "re-giftables" (my apologies to society). But as it turns out, many Goodwill locations across the country provide more than just a chance for material objects to get a new lease on life. The company’s commercial services division also provides American workers with a chance to work and/or enhance their skillsets before entering or re-entering the workforce. This portion of the business provides outsourcing for other companies to aid their production and assembly needs, while allowing Goodwill’s employees to grow and learn to be economically self-sufficient.

"Ninety percent (of customer services division) employees have some type of barrier to employment," explained Goodwill Marketing VP Cindy Graham, noting that they may have physical or mental disabilities, or prior convictions. "Some learn skills and move on to other organizations, but we also have some people who have worked here for 30 years."

Dean Graham, CEO of Road Rage Fun Signs (and no relation to Cindy), explained working with Goodwill has been a blessing.

"I’m really impressed by their work," he said. "One key goal with our business is that we want to work with companies that lend a hand up. What better company for that than Goodwill?"

Look for the article about Road Rage Fun Signs in the November/December edition of BizVoice, and we also covered Goodwill’s adult services efforts in the March/April 2007 edition.