By Robin Raney, Executive Director of Goodwill Industries of Northwest Texas
There’s an old folk song by Pete Seeger that says, “One man’s hands can’t tear a prison down, two man’s hands can’t tear a prison down, but if two and two and fifty make a million – we’ll see that day come round. We’ll see that day come round.”
That song reminds me of the impact our involvement with Lubbock Area United Way. One person alone, or even two, cannot make a significant impact in advancing adult literacy, decreasing child abuse, helping women flee abusive relationships, assisting families who have lost everything in a fire, or helping girls and boys gain valuable life skills. But when the community comes together through United Way, substantial change can occur.
At Goodwill, we are proud to be a United Way Community Partner. Our mission is to create job opportunities for people with barriers to employment. We help people who have difficulty finding and keeping a job. We do this by our Training, Placement and Life Skills Program (TPALS), which United Way helps to fund.
Jim, a TPALS client, had been laid off from his management job.
Steve, a retired CEO and another TPALS client, ended up needing to reenter the workforce.
Sue and Quinn, also TPALS clients were finishing up Ph.D.’s in engineering.
Goodwill is a second chance employer. We hire people with non-violent criminal backgrounds, no job history, spotty job history or poor job history to give them a hand up and gain the self-esteem that comes from earning a paycheck.
Josh just wanted a job, but his wheelchair presented a barrier to employment. We helped him with his interview skills. We then ended up hiring him at Goodwill, and he is now enjoying increased independence.
Personally, my family was not sure if our special needs daughter would ever be able to work. It is hard to find an employer willing to grant the extra patience needed to find an individual’s unique skills and abilities. But I’m proud to say she now works four hours a week at Goodwill. Her supervisor has asked her to increase her hours. She says that after recreation therapy, horseback riding, swimming, and messages, working four hours a week leaves just enough time for karaoke and naps.
What she’s learning at Goodwill is priceless. It’s about learning to value money because she’s earned it. She’s building her social skills and developing friendships. There are a lot of hands tearing down the walls of isolation, dependency, and loneliness.
When we support United Way, many hands are working together to tear down the walls of illiteracy, homelessness, child abuse, sexual abuse, poverty, and hopelessness.
At Goodwill, we like to say that we offer Hope and Opportunity. I think the ability to offer hope and opportunity is a common thread that binds all 23 Community Partners and United Way supporters together. We’re tearing down prisons, and we’re rising together, so no one stands alone.