By Richard Carlson, President and CEO
elcome to goodviews, the Goodwill Industries of West Michigan blog. I’m Dick Carlson, president and CEO, and I’m pleased to introduce this new content forum. We’re carving out a place to showcase Goodwill programs and activities, shared by a variety of Goodwill staff, representing different facets of our organization.
In addition to sharing stories about our mission and the lives we change, we intend to cover topics such as retail and donations, recycling, sustainability, quality assurance, financial literacy, our business-to-business services, and more.
Because our organization and its various social enterprises are so diverse, we decided that having a variety of bloggers would give you the best look inside our organization. Each posting will be told through the personal lens of the staff member best representing the topic at hand.
To kick things off, I will share with you my personal story and deep commitment to this incredible organization. I’m proud to say my career with Goodwill has spanned nearly 35 years.
After earning my undergraduate degree in social work from Graceland University and working for two years in the field of children’s services, I accepted a position as a rehabilitation counselor with Goodwill. In this new role, I provided job skills training and psychosocial rehabilitation services to persons with disabilities. They fulfilled subcontracted industrial work with local manufacturers for which they earned a paycheck (a practice we still do today).
This was my first experience working with persons with severe disabilities, and my first experience working within a social enterprise business model. It was incredibly rewarding to be a part of a work environment that provided real, paid work opportunities for people who would otherwise not have employment in the community. Their lives had meaning and purpose. They were engaged, productive, and happy. It opened my eyes to the well-established Goodwill philosophy of “a hand up, not a handout,” “not charity but a chance” … and I was hooked.
While Goodwill served a couple of hundred persons a year back then, today we serve more than 20,000 persons annually — helping people with barriers to employment prepare for, find and keep jobs.