Thrift stores are more than a bargain basement — or a catchy pop song for that matter.
Goodwill is a perfect example of thrift stores answering a greater need in local communities. Since 1902 Goodwill Industries, Inc. has worked to provide job training using the "hand up, not hand out" motto.
"I think we can all agree that jobs change lives by providing a means to be independent, secure and confident," said Heather Gioia, director of public relations at Goodwill Industries.
Through its sale of donated housewares, furniture and clothing, the thrifty organization provides free job training and education to individuals within its local area. On Friday, Goodwill expanded its reach to Walton County with the grand opening of the Career Training in DeFuniak Springs.
The Career Training Centers, or CTCs provide assistance to those with disabilities and other barriers to employment, Gioia said. Services offered include individual career counseling, job placement services, computer skills classes, computer labs for job searches, resume writing help, interview skills, and a variety of education and job training workshops.
"The people that come through our doors are a diverse group," Gioia said. "From single mothers and recent immigrants to ex-offenders and adults who never finished high school. We are best known for helping those with disabilities and disadvantages, but our services are available to anyone that wishes to use them."
In 2012 Goodwill provided 5,733 people in _____ with career training and job placement assistance. Of that number, 1,876 were those with disabilities, 3,091 were underemployed or unemployed adults and 1,499 were under-educated adults.
Career training not only benefits the individuals, but also the economy. Employers can hire in locals knowing they are gaining a well-trained and committed employee, Gioia said.
"Goodwill's job training and education programs benefit more than just our students — they enrich the whole community," Gioia explained.
While Goodwill's career training and job placement services are free and open to everybody, those wishing to better their lives have to initiate the change.
"They take that first step toward their future when they come to a Career Training Center," Gioia said. "We help them create a path to get there."
The new Goodwill Career Training Center is located at 1302 Highway 331 in DeFuniak Springs. The building is also a drop-off site for donations. Revenues made at Goodwill retail stores go directly into employment and training programs. You can also support Goodwill, through their new partnership with Beyonce. Auction items are on sale now at charitybuzz.com. For more information about Goodwill Industries, Inc., visit www.goodwill.org.