On February 7, Rich Cantz Senior Vice President Strategic Development of Goodwill Industries of Northern New England was our guest and speaker. Rich previously worked for United Way and for Youth Alternatives (now Opportunity Alliance). Rich was a Rotarian for about 10 years in the Portland Club and has been speaking at local clubs to tell the story of Goodwill.
Goodwill was started in Boston in 1902 by local Methodist minister and founded on the principle of a hand up, not a hand out. He collected used household goods and clothing in wealthier parts of the city, then trained workers to mend and repair the used goods. In 1933, Goodwill came to Maine where it initially offered employment opportunities to the mentally handicapped through repair and repurpose of donated goods. There are now 30 stores across Maine, NH and Vermont.  Goodwill employees about 2000 people, with about 1100 of those in the retail stores. Only about 5-6% of their annual revenue is from private donations. 
Sparked by the closing of Pineland in 1996, Goodwill formed a Health Care division. They now have 25 community-based long term care facilities around Maine. In addition, they serve about 800 people a year who have sustained brain injuries.  Their clients include Veterans who are referred by the VA. Services also include pre-employment training and education to help transition people they serve into the workforce.  Another division of Goodwill is their Good Clean Property Services. Employees clean many types of business including banks, federal buildings and their own stores.
Today Goodwill’s primary objective remains workforce development. They support displaced workers to retrain them for new careers. They provide AmeriCorps programs in three states which place volunteers with non-profits needing help. They have a new YouthBuild program in Lewiston and work with residents of Long Creek Youth Development Center.  They partner with Community Colleges, Adult Education programs, Career Centers and licensed social workers to help people find and keep jobs.
Job retention is a key metric. They try to take a holistic approach to job training and retention by looking at and addressing gaps in all aspects of a person’s life that can impact employment such as education and living situation, as well as physical or mental disability.
Goodwill NNE Operations Center in Gorham ME