Community | Spring 2019

Hidden treasure: How Goodwill of Greater Grand Rapids turns forgotten items into opportunity

(Photo courtesy of Goodwill of Greater Grand Rapids)

Goodwill might be best recognized for its retail storefronts, housing items donated by 650,000 households each year, giving used goods a chance at a second life.

What many might not realize, however, is that 91 cents of every dollar spent at Goodwill of Greater Grand Rapids’ 20 retail stores supports job-training services for people facing barriers to employment—such as mental health or substance abuse issues—who themselves may just need a little extra attention to shine.

Training for long-term jobs

To help people achieve gainful employment, Goodwill offers programs that include Certified Nurse Aide training and technology certification.

“The Greater Grand Rapids area is a hotbed for medical, so there is a need for the Certified Nurse Aide training program in our area,” says Jill Wallace, chief marketing and communication officer for Goodwill. “In terms of IT training, we’re really trying to be forward thinking and help individuals keep jobs that are going to be needed for the long term. These types of trades are something that we’re going to need well into the future.”

The nonprofit also provides job coaching for individuals to help them as they transition into employment and keep their positions once they have them.

Careers, not jobs

Wallace says 96 percent of people who have gone through Goodwill’s CNA training program in the past five years have graduated with a state license. And its IT program has placed at least 100 individuals with a documented disability into IT support positions this past year, jobs that pay $20 per hour.

In addition to providing placement assistance and job training for individuals, Goodwill works to create valuable relationships and collaborations in the communities it serves. As a result, those entities often hire those trained by Goodwill.

“We are trying to place people into careers, not jobs,” says Wallace. “We are looking for retention within these positions.”

And it gets assistance with that goal from Huntington.

“Goodwill is fortunate to have Huntington’s West Michigan Region President John Irwin as an engaged board member,” says Wallace. “His dedication is demonstrated through the bank’s support of the Certified Nurse Aide training program, providing support for additional graduates to earn their state certification.”

We are trying to place people into careers not jobs. We are looking for retention within these positions.
Jill Wallace
Chief Marketing and Communication Officer for Goodwill

About the organization

Name: Goodwill of Greater Grand Rapids

City: Grandville, Michigan
Mission: Changing lives and communities through the power of work

How you can help: Interested in partnering with Goodwill? Visit to learn more.

Make an impact

Learn how Huntington can help make a positive impact in the region. Contact your Huntington relationship manager.
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