Goodwill of Western and Northern Connecticut is on a growth spurt.
Established in 1951, the local chapter of this international nonprofit has grown to operate 17 stores and 14 additional locations in the extensive territory. Four more are planned to open by year-end.
Goodwill’s newest location will open in Waterbury at 943 Wolcott St. by the end of this month. Two additional stores are scheduled to open this fall in Oxford and Stamford. Doors will open at the new Monroe store once approvals clear with the town, the company stated.
Recently opened stores include New Milford, Enfield and Bloomfield. They’re also exploring other new locations throughout the region for 2017.
Vickie L. Volpano, president and chief executive officer of Goodwill of Western and Northern Connecticut, said the driving force behind this expansion phase is a noble one, which is to continue their founder’s mission to help more people to become self-sufficient and to get the unemployed back to work.
“There are still more people we need to help. Through the expansion of stores we are able to hire more people and we are able to serve more people and that’s why we’re expanding,” she said. “We help people through job training, career planning services and job placement.”
Last year, this Goodwill affiliate generated more than $48 million in revenue from the sale of donated items. As a result, they served over 22,000 Connecticut residents through a variety of programs, services and other charitable acts, she said. They employed over 1,300 workers.
“We help individuals and families to be more independent and self-sufficient through either work or other supportive services. It’s very much about dignity and respect,” Volpano said.
Goodwill served more than 10,000 people during the Great Recession from March 2008 through February 2010, and employed approximately 700 workers before the recession.
Since the recession officially ended, Goodwill has more than doubled the amount of people they’ve helped and they aren’t slowing down any time soon. They’re still seeing an increase in people needing their help, she said.
Nationally, Goodwill says it helped put 173,155 people back to work this year.
Out of those served in 2015, Volpano said more than 100 people needed intensive services, such as those with brain injuries, and Goodwill helps them to live as much of a full life as possible by providing around-the-clock intensive services for them. Part of this total also included helping over 8,000 people at their career centers.
There is one other independent Goodwill affiliate in Connecticut. Easter Seals Goodwill Industries serves South-Central and Eastern Connecticut. They operate 13 secondhand retail stores and 1 outlet and helped over 1,000 people in 2015.
Volpano said they’re looking to hire people in their four new stores. Jobseekers should apply four to six weeks before the grand openings. Goodwill is an equal opportunity employer and they offer competitive wages and benefits by industry. “Any individual who is qualified for any position is considered for hire. We’ve learned that disabilities and other challenges are not always evident, and we’re happy to consider them, or anyone.”
To apply for a job, visit one of their career centers or apply online at www.gwct.org.
Goodwill’s network of 164 independent, community-based Goodwills in the US and Canada generated a combined revenue of $5.5 billion and served over 37 million people in 2015.
Source: Goodwill of Western and Northern Connecticut
The early days:
Rev. Edgar J. Helms, a Methodist minister and early social innovator from Boston founded Goodwill in 1902.
Helms collected household goods and clothing in wealthier areas of the city, then trained and hired those who were poor to mend and repair the used goods. The goods were resold or donated to the people who repaired them. Helms described Goodwill Industries as an “industrial program as well as a social service enterprise…a provider of employment, training and rehabilitation for people of limited employability, and a source of temporary assistance for individuals whose resources were depleted.”
Article and store photos are by Alicia Sakal. Founder photo, contributed. Originally written for Republican-American, July 25, 2016 for the front page of the Business section and featured online as well.