When Goodwill Industries of Colorado Springs was founded 50 years ago, welfare was a way of life rather than a means for short-term assistance. Over the last five decades, Goodwill has forged a multitude of partnerships with key public service and support agencies—such as the El Paso County Department of Human Services (DHS)—to address our community’s high unemployment rate.
During 2011, Goodwill is celebrating a half-century of changing lives through job training, placement and retention programs for people moving from welfare to work. Leilani Thrash is just one of over 3,000 individuals Goodwill serves annually through its partnership with DHS. The single mother of three daughters— ranging in age from 8 months to 8 years—found herself on the doorstep of DHS after facing a string of personal and economic pitfalls. After repeated attempts to find employment, Leilani applied for temporary economic assistance through DHS and, soon after, started on the path to financial independence as an enrollee in Goodwill’s Career Development Center.
“Goodwill’s career training program provided personalized counseling and support that helped me sharpen my job preparation skills,” Leilani shared. “I graduated from Goodwill’s Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) program at the top of my class and now am employed full-time as a CNA, assisting and motivating others to maintain their health and achieve their life goals … I love my job! Goodwill’s care and commitment to me and my future was incredibly motivating and allowed me to rise above my circumstances.”
Today, public support programs like those forged between DHS and Goodwill are needed more than ever to provide others like Leilani a hand up, not a handout. As Goodwill celebrates 50 years of improving lives in our community, we in turn celebrate the many thousands of success stories like Leilani’s made possible by our community’s outpouring of goodwill. Every time you shop at a Goodwill retail center, drop off clothes and other re-usable items at one of Goodwill’s donation centers or make a charitable donation, you increase goodwill to your friends, neighbors and others in their season of need. And Goodwill’s longstanding presence in the community has taught us that acts of goodwill never go unnoticed; in fact, they are returned 50-fold … and counting.