Community inclusion and participation

By Meredith Champagne, Vocational Rehabilitation Manager

As part of our vocational services at Goodwill, we offer community-integrated activities to our program participants with disabilities that work here at our corporate headquarters. They are offered a variety of educational, volunteer, and leisure activities outside of their work setting.

Not only do these optional group outings result in fun and rewarding experiences, they can be very instructive too. People enroll in Goodwill programming for vocational and life skills, and these community-based outings are just another way for people to grow and learn. Assisting a resident at a nursing home for instance, teaches interpersonal relationship skills and cooperation, while volunteering at a local animal shelter develops cleaning capabilities. We try and teach each individual that giving back is part of what makes a stronger community.

Our educational trips include visits to the library, museums, or local historical sites. Groups have enjoyed tours of TV and radio stations, attended offsite computer classes, and been aboard the GVSU research vessel. One the most memorable excursions was a trip to Milwaukee on the Lake Express ferry with a small group. For most of the travelers, this was their first trip out of state, let alone on a boat of that size. Additionally, many area businesses and local manufacturers have generously opened their doors to us for informative tours of their facilities, and treated us as valued guests. Exposing our people to different experiences and places helps them see life from a different angle, and to better connect with their neighbors and community.

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Not only does our community integration activities enrich the lives of the people we serve, it’s also a great opportunity for the public to learn about Goodwill and our mission, and to relate with a population they might not be that familiar with. The people we meet through these community outings are always impressed with how hard-working, thoughtful, curious, and capable our workers are.

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