Goodwill Industries of Middle Georgia (GIMG) announced today the temporary closure of all 16 of its resale training stores in its 35-county service delivery area. Most of Goodwill’s attended Donation Centers will remain open 11am-6pm to collect Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for First Responders and other gently used clothing and household items.
The local Goodwill charity joins other independent Goodwill organizations across the country in making the gut-wrenching decision to reduce its workforce until the crisis has resolved and operations stabilize. Since March 20th GIMG has furloughed 510 of its 644-person workforce.
“This was an incredibly difficult decision, but it was necessary to protect our employees and simultaneously stabilize our nonprofit social service organization to serve the forthcoming tsunami of unemployed citizens,” said Goodwill of Middle Georgia President James K. Stiff. “We hope these actions will position us to fully reopen, resume services and rehire those impacted when the global health crisis subsides.”
Immediate steps to support affected local Goodwill team members include continued accrual of paid time off, access to health benefits with free telemedicine service, and Goodwill’s human resources department filing for each furloughed employee’s COVID-19 unemployment insurance benefits. Goodwill has temporarily suspended in-person operations at its eight Job Connection career centers and moved services to a virtual model accessible via the Job Connection link on www.GoodwillWorks.org. In addition to employment-specific resources and current job leads, Goodwill has created a comprehensive localized resource guide for every client with information on assistance for food, housing, utilities, health care, childcare, domestic violence support and other community services.
“We’ve made the necessary adjustment to deliver services online now as well as to practice social distancing,” said Leah Pontani, Vice President of Career Development at GIMG. “We can connect people with assistance for many areas of their lives where they may be struggling. We also know numerous companies that are hiring. We provide connections to virtual classes with industry certifications and stackable credentials from which people can benefit while they’re furloughed or laid off. We can help people sustain themselves and their families.”
Most employment placement and education services through Job Connection career centers are free of charge to job seekers, funded by revenue generated from sales in Goodwill’s training stores. With Goodwill stores now temporarily closed at least until May, Goodwill needs financial gifts to offer virtual services, achieve continuity and to rebuild and enhance capacity to serve the predicted and unprecedented wave of new unemployed citizens.
For the first time in the local Goodwill’s 45-year history, the local charity (with retail and hospitality applied learning enterprises badly wounded) is making an emergency appeal for financial contributions.
“Goodwill needs to be able to continue our life-changing work during this crisis and be strong to offer a ‘hand-up’ to tens of thousands who have been stripped of their jobs by COVID-19,” Stiff said.
“Goodwill wants to be… There” video can be found at www.GoodwillWorks.org, with more information on how to save and strengthen the local Goodwill charity.