GOODWILL ON A MISSION
When you clean out your closet or are in need of some cheap picture frames, what’s the first place you think of?
Chances are high you said Goodwill.
“Goodwill has very strong brand recognition,” said Brendan Hurley, chief marketing office of Goodwill of Greater Washington, “but where Goodwill is lacking is in mission awareness.”
The mission, according to Goodwill’s website, is “to transform lives and communities through the power of education and employment,” particularly for those with disabilities and disadvantages.
“Transforming is a word that really resonates,” said Hurley. “When someone is successfully employed, they can meet a variety of human needs.”
Needs including a roof over ones head, the ability to buy food, to keep the lights on, or keep the heat running in winter, the ability to get kids school supplies or sneakers or medicine when they’re sick.
“It provides necessities that many of us take for granted,” he said. “That is transformative.”
The organization uses the acronym RISE – respect, integrity, service and excellence – to reflect its core values.
Goodwill offers job training and placement programs in the fields of hospitality and security services, as well as career navigation. The latter is a generalized career enrichment program that includes resume and interview assistance, and job search and self-marketing tools.
Goodwill’s career services education programs feature individual assessments to find participants’ best career fit, and address the full job-training process, from initial search to job retention post-hire.
The retail stores that are associated with the Goodwill name help to fund that mission. Ninety-one cents on the dollar that comes into the stores goes to support Goodwill’s education and job training services.
“There is a disconnect between how we generate money to fund our mission and the mission itself,” Hurley said. “We work on correcting that everyday.”
ALL THE YOUNG PROS
Aiding in the quest to spread Goodwill's mission is the Young Professionals Council. Members of the YPC act as brand ambassadors for Goodwill, familiarizing the community with the organization’s mission.
“People are surprised that Goodwill is more than where you buy cheap clothes, or where they can donate things,” said Samantha Penabad, chair of the Young Professionals Council. “We are able to change people's perception of what Goodwill does.”
Penabad, 26, works as a strategy consultant for Accenture Development Partnerships, helping organizations develop and accomplish their goals. She became involved with Goodwill and the YPC through her employer.
As chair, Penabad manages the day-to-day operations of YPC, including strategy and membership recruitment. A good YPC member, she said, is “intensely excited about community service.”
Members of the Young Professionals Council come from a wide range of professional backgrounds, but share the common goal of wanting to help Goodwill spread its mission.
“For me it has to do with providing opportunities, whether it be educational or vocational, for those in our community who have been affected by disabilities and disadvantages,” said Melisa Sullivan, YPC’s vice president of events. “I see Goodwill as a sort of safe haven. It's about empowering these individuals to live in a self-sustaining way.”
Sullivan, 29, has worked on Capitol Hill and in campaign finance fundraising. She has been a part of the Young Professionals Council since 2012.
The YPC is tasked with creating events that fit the lifestyle of DC’s young professionals, finding fun and unusual ways to engage them.
“On any night in DC, you can go to 15 or 20 happy hours for a charitable organization,” Sullivan said. “We want to think outside the box. We want to engage people where they are.”
On July 11, the YPC will host a charity spinning event at Zengo Cycle in Logan Circle. While in the past, YPC has joined in on larger Goodwill events, this year the leadership is working toward more autonomy. Possible future events include a paint-and-sip, a cooking class, and thematic pop-up shops.
In addition to planning and attending events, members of the Young Professionals Council must meet a volunteer requirement, taking part in Goodwill’s programs. That can take the form of assisting with resume development, unloading donations, or anything in between.
“It’s important to be out there and see the impact that Goodwill has and see the people who are benefitting from these programs,” Sullivan said.
Hurley recalls a fashion show Goodwill held in Sept. 2014. The recent graduating class from the hospitality program was invited to walk down the runway. More than 200 people, who all now have jobs with Marriott, stepped up.
“They had huge smiles,” Hurley said. “Some of them were dancing. It was very moving, knowing the impact the program had on them.”