By SF Goodwill
Goodwill of San Francisco, San Mateo, and Marin Counties (SF Goodwill) is a one-stop destination for anyone who wants to find work or build his or her career skills. We have been a leader in local workforce development for more than 100 years. Then COVID-19 upended our community in a way none of us could have anticipated.
Our supportive employment program provides paid work experience at SF Goodwill, benefits, skill building and training opportunities for some of the Bay Area’s most vulnerable populations. Many of the people we hire are returning to work after years of incarceration, homelessness, addiction, or immigration and most have few or no resources beyond the employment safety net we provide. Without employment, the individuals we serve can easily fall further into perilous life circumstances. The shelter-in-place orders forced us to close our 19 retail stores, 26 donation centers, and pause our warehouse operations—where we employ more than 500 individuals in need. We are currently reopening our operations in phases. Check the SF Goodwill store and donation center locators for regular updates.
Photo by Chloe Aftel
“I wanted to go where I would be accepted. I didn’t want to lie about my past, I just wanted a second chance to build skills and a resume. I told the commissioner on my case that I gave back to the community in prison and I wanted to continue to give back when I got out.” – Natalie
Despite these challenges, with our longstanding commitment to the local community we are emerging as an essential provider during the crisis. In addition to our “earn while you learn” program at our donation and retail operations, SF Goodwill also operates several Career Centers that provide free services to anyone in need of assistance finding work. We have adapted our services to a virtual model, where we offer San Francisco’s disadvantaged, low-income communities of underemployed and unemployed individuals with free access to online training, personalized career services, and connections to local employers. Our virtual hiring events have included essential businesses such as Target, Safeway, Amazon, Good Eggs, and essential service providers like Mercy Housing and Larkin Street Youth Services. We have reached more than 450 individuals since March 2020. Mercy Housing was the first employer partner to host a virtual job fair with SF Goodwill. In this blog post, Mercy Housing lauds Goodwill’s services for “keeping communities vibrant and healthy even as we face difficulties.”
A Goodwill student learning virtually. Photo by Chloe Aftel.
The trainings we offer include jobseeker essentials such as resume development, and new offerings to meet the current needs of the community, including workshops on interviewing skills during COVID-19, cultivating a growth mindset, and language skills for non-native English speakers. We have welcomed guest speakers from leading tech companies like Google and Salesforce for our technology workshops.
Photo by Chloe Aftel
“Working at Goodwill has been a great experience for me. I did not have digital skills and computer knowledge. Goodwill opened doors for me to get back on my feet.” – Angelica
We have also joined the City’s effort to provide emergency shelter to our most vulnerable residents by recruiting workers to serve as on-site monitors to ensure health and safety requirements, manage communication and logistics onsite, where SF Goodwill recruited and screened more than 1,200 applications, resulting in 471 individuals (and counting) who have stepped into new, critical service jobs. “I have been inspired by my lovely support team to do better for not only myself but for other people as well,” reflects a formerly incarcerated individual before coming to one SF Goodwill’s Career Centers, who recently joined the emergency shelter effort as a monitor. “This job is the most fulfilling and happiest I have ever had. The feeling of being productive and proactive in the environment I wish to have in a career is a blessing.”
In response to COVID-19, we are also leading an initiative in partnership with San Francisco’s Office of Economic and Workforce Development to connect low-income workers who have been laid off or negatively impacted by the pandemic with a one-time emergency cash benefit, which to date has been disbursed to more than 70 individuals, and will reach hundreds of more individuals and their families by this Fall.
Finally, we have lent our support to other community-led initiatives, including our partnership with the San Francisco Marin Food Bank by offering our trucks and drivers to deliver food to vulnerable neighbors, and we are also working with Project CARE Masks’ Spread Love Not Hate program to provide textiles to produce masks for at-risk populations.
With more than half a million jobs eliminated in San Francisco alone by the crisis, we know our services to help the local community are more critical today than ever. The people we serve depend on our career services to transform their lives through training and the dignity of work. Goodwill is more than just a place of work, for many it sets a foundation where they are able to experience safety, learning, and belonging on their journeys to a better life. We will continue to bring our organization’s values to the greater community during this crisis. We are stronger together. If you or someone you know is in need of job assistance you can learn more about our Career Center here.
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