An Unusual Bookstore Tale
Goodwill Industries operates differently than most nationwide charities in that each state operates and monitors their own industry locally, finding what works best in their region. For instance, in Miami a large Goodwill company makes flags. In another state, Goodwill Industries works within the transportation industry. They train people in truck driving, locomotive engineering, tractor trailer mechanics, logistics and dispatching.
In Macon, Georgia, Goodwill is the first in the country with its own accredited college. Loans and scholarships are available to attend Helms College and receive a degree but even more important is work experience. There are numerous internships and hands-on training. There’s a culinary school, training in graphics, marketing and retailing, GED and custodial training. They have an academic achievement center, computers and tutors. They also have an automotive center that provides preventive maintenance, services their own fleet, and makes use of donated cars. The campus houses a large Goodwill Retail store, Hire Grounds Bookstore and Café, Helms College, a conference center, the truck center, and Edgars Fine Dining restaurant operated by the culinary school.
Last Saturday I signed books at Hire Grounds Bookstore and Café. This large bookstore has new and gently used books, donated. Helms College retail students work at the store. The café is supplied by the culinary school and run by interns. The posters promoting my signing were created by graphic students. Marketing interns gave me the best advertising I’ve ever had. Under the watchful eye of the Manager of Volunteer Services, they offer at least one book signing a month as well as other activities. When I arrived for my signing the store was full of sugar-coated kids finishing up their gingerbread house building.
The problem that plagues Goodwill Industries currently is anti-business administration and policies. Many small businesses that used to employ Goodwill trainees across the country have closed; many others only afford part-time employees without benefits. Goodwill Industries have shown America that partnering with community employers can provide meaningful jobs for trained people. A private sector leg up is definitely better than a government hand out.