NEWBERRY — Goodwill has moved a few doors down on Wilson Road. The move brings with it a larger retail space and a Job Connection.
“We have been in the Newberry community with a retail presence for over 10 years. I have been with this Goodwill for just over 10 years. We have always been in the same location and one of the things we really wanted to do was upgrade our presence and establish a Job Connection here,” said Patrick Michaels, president of Goodwill Industries of Upstate/Midlands South Carolina. “We haven’t had a Job Connections presence in Newberry County so we are super excited about that.”
Job Connection is the main way people access the services Goodwill provides, according to Michaels.
“A lot of people may not know that Goodwill helps people who have a barrier to employment to acquire skills to get a job or directly helps them get a job,” he said. “Last year there were over 30,000 people in our 16 county service areas that sought services from Goodwill. We placed over 12,000 of them in jobs.”
That level of service is now in Newberry County. Goodwill also has a partnership with Piedmont Technical College in Newberry, and through that partnership clients of the Job Connection can access training programs at PTC not only here, but in Laurens County as well.
As residents come into Job Connection for the first time, a representative will explain what their services are.
“Our services are supporting them in their job search efforts, making sure they have everything they need to have a strategic and successful job search, including having an email address and a working phone. We do not provide that, but we encourage them to get that,” said Brenda Verdone, team leader for the Upstate.
Job Connection will make sure job seekers have a good resume, and that they are promoting themselves in the right way. They will also receive assistance in online job searching, so they do not fall down the rabbit hole in cyberspace.
“Then we stay with them until they have a job because we know they are going to need some encouragement, it can be a frustrating process to get a job. Some people it can take one week, others it can take three months or longer,” Verdone said. “We offer education and training programs, and we go over all of that.”
Along with Job Connection, Goodwill also has a bigger retail store, which also comes with a few full time positions.
“We hope the community will come out and support the organization with its new presence here in Newberry. For one, thrift shopping is a lot of fun, and two because Job Connection is an important thing, and their shopping and donations supports, funds and pays for our Job Connection services,” Michaels said. “So we are excited to kind of expand our presence in Newberry and bring mission based services to people who have a barrier to employment.”
The new store is twice the size of the previous one, and has new fixtures and a mix of new and collectible items.
“What customers might see is the quality of goods may go up, they are going to have great finds. We really think this is a much more organized, categorized way for people to find what they want, and maybe find some fun things they didn’t know they need, but the big deal for us is it is twice the size,” Michaels said.
The former Goodwill location did not have the proper space to process donations, but that has changed.
“That has been a challenge for us, and our new situation helps us to be able to move the donated items to the floor, categorize them, and make them look good so people can buy them,” Michaels said. “We really appreciate the support we have always had in the Newberry community, if we didn’t have the support we couldn’t update our presence here.”
Michaels added that 92 cents on every dollar spent at Goodwill goes to their program services.
“Hopefully the people in the community can feel good when they donate or shop. They are helping somebody else in the community get skills, or get a job or improve their lives,” he said.
Reach Andrew Wigger at 803-276-0625 ext. 1867 or on Twitter @ TheNBOnews.