In the minds of many, Goodwill is the place to drop off donations and shop at cheaper prices.
The nonprofit organization brings a lot more to the table, though. Goodwill’s overarching mission is to help community members find jobs.
“The store is only a small portion of what we do,” said Parker Kitchens, branch manager for Goodwill staffing services, at a breakfast meeting held Friday to educate local business and organization leaders about Goodwill’s Job Connection Center services in Brunswick.
Goodwill Southeast Georgia serves 29 counties in Georgia and four counties in South Carolina. That area coverage includes 17 retail stores and four career centers.
“Those career centers are extremely important in those communities,” Kitchens said. “… We do have a big impact on the community because we have a lot of people coming in to use our resources.”
The Job Connection Center, located directly beside the Goodwill store in Brunswick, located at 249 Village at Glynn Place, offers workshops, professional development, GED courses and computer access. The center’s staff provides résumé and interviewing skills training and teach courses in hospitality training, soft skills development and computer skills.
Goodwill aims to partner with local businesses to help employers find quality employees and to improve community members' hiring potential.
“We’re in a situation where we’ve got people around here who need to go to work,” Kitchens said. “We’ve got employers who need jobs filled, and we’ve got citizens in our community who need to go to work, but there’s a gap there.”
Goodwill’s Job Connection Center staff in Brunswick hopes to find ways to address that gap.
The center has an ongoing partnership with International Auto Processing at the Port of Brunswick, through which Goodwill can connect people with immediate job opportunities with the company.
The hospitality training program is fairly new, said Teona Chaduneli, who runs the program.
The training classes are held in three-week periods, every day from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.
“The students get introduced to the hospitality industry, the entry level,” Chaduneli said.
Goodwill can also set up trainings for individual businesses to improve employees’ skills.
“We’re very flexible, and we can tailor it to the needs of the community,” Kitchens said. “… Our whole mission is to help people get jobs.”
Kitchens said his staff is working now to spread awareness of these local services.
The Job Connection Center is open Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
“We want the community to know we’re here, to know what we do, to understand us and use our services, whether it be sending people here to go get jobs or what can we as workforce developers do to help the employers seeking employees,” Kitchens said.
The meeting Friday was attended by staff from Coastal Georgia Area Community Action Authority and human resource employees from the King & Prince Resort on St. Simons.
King and Prince, like many companies, struggles with high turnover rates with employees, said Amanda Homan, human resources manager at the King and Prince. Transportation barriers also continue to be a hardship faced by many employees, she said.
“The causeway is only seven miles long, but it’s 100 miles for somebody who doesn’t have transportation,” she said. “And our big issue in this area is that we are so spread out.”
Goodwill aims to help communities address these challenges, Kitchens said.
“I know a lot of people have the thought that we are a place where you donate your clothes or you go and you can get a great deal on a shirt or a pair of pants, right?” he said. “… But, we’re a lot more than that.”
Goodwill is a retailer, a recycler and a business solutions provider, he said.
“Most importantly, we’re your partner in workforce development,” he said. “That’s what we do. Putting people to work is what is most important to us.”
Those interested in learning more can call 912-342-1106.