In 2018, Goodwill Industries – Essex Kent Lambton is celebrating 85 years of service to the community. “As we celebrate this anniversary, this is an opportunity to look back on some of the successes that we’ve seen over the years,” explains CEO Kevin Smith. In 2008, Goodwill was recognized with two local awards for its work. In the spring the organization received the Chamber of Commerce Outstanding Business Achievement Award in the not for profit category. The same year, Goodwill was awarded the Suncor Sustainability Award. “Those earlier awards were very important to our organization.”

Goodwill’s business is divided along two main lines. In the Workforce Development (WFD) Program, the Goodwill Career Centres provide a wide range of services for job seekers and the Goodwill Connections staff teach life skills to participants with developmental disabilities. In the Donated Goods and Retail (DGR) Program, they employ people in the Attended Donation Centres (ADCs) and Retail Stores to collect and process donated goods. “We create jobs every time someone donates at one of our ADCs. We have 12 located through Essex, Kent and Lambton Counties. We train people on all aspects of retail in our four retail stores, including our Bookstore in Windsor.”

In the DGR program, they are celebrating three years in a row of winning the Growing the Business Comparable Growth Award from the Goodwill Industries International office. This award recognizes Goodwill operations with the highest rate of growth in their existing retail footprint over the previous year. “This is a very exciting award for our organization because it reflects the hard work of the entire DRG Team, from the cashiers and production staff at the retail stores, to the staff accepting donations at our Attended Donation Centres, to our transportation team and our Recycling Centre associates.”

The WFD Team is also honoring some recent accolades. In 2016, they were awarded Goodwill Industries International’s Mission Support Mission Integration Award, which recognizes the investment in career center services that are jointly funded by government resources and Goodwill investment. The Sarnia Career Centre is ranked #1 among Canadian Goodwills for people served and placed per 100,000 population. “These awards highlight not only the tremendous dedication of the entire Goodwill team, but also the community support for our work.”

Alongside the individual DGR and WFD awards, the entire organization is celebrating a recent partnership. In 2017, Goodwill teamed up with the Celebration of Lights Committee to restore the Front Street Candle Arch. A staff member teamed up with a committee member to learn the skills necessary to do the repair work. “Through our Register Round Up Program, the wages to support a staff member to work on this project were covered. This truly was a team effort.” Looking to the future, Smith hopes to support many more community projects. “Anytime we can teach someone new skills and do something to benefit the community, we want to be involved. That is how we fulfill our mission: changing people’s lives through the power of work.”