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Goodwill continues community partnerships

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It's more than just hanging clothes.

And Goodwill Industries of Kanawha Valley Director of Community Relations Kathy McKinley is quick to tell people that.

"There's a lot of different things going on right now at Goodwill, and that's what's exciting for us," McKinley said this week. 

McKinley said Goodwill is working to strengthen the community as a whole by building up individuals.

"Goodwill is very whole-world like that; a lot of paying it forward," she said. "Our branding is ‘You donate, we train, lives change,' and when we worked on that and developed that branding, we wanted to encapsulate all the different ways Goodwill can help people and what they do to strengthen themselves individually in their communities."

McKinley said Goodwill invited members of the community to a town hall meeting at the end of July to assess the needs and desires for a career center. At the last board meeting, members agreed Goodwill should move forward with the project, so plans are in the works for a career center on the west side of Charleston.

"There will be some huddle rooms for people who maybe want to interview but don't have a place on the west side," McKinley explained. "There will be a dress-for-success type of closet, and we already have a durable medical equipment closet in the Charleston store."

And Goodwill Industries of the Kanawha Valley is signing agreements with new partners as well as refreshing some older relationships, including one with Kanawha Valley Community and Technical College. The school will operate with a satellite in the career center for anyone who wants to sign up for computer classes, work on resumes or pick up college credits.

"The person we serve might not be your typical, four-year college student," McKinley said. "It could be someone with a master's degree who is under-employed because of the economy, but for everyone, it charges up their skills."

The Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities recently awarded Goodwill with its highest certification for a period of three years in the areas of job development, job supports, employee development services and organizational employment services.

McKinley said Goodwill has focused on creating a quality work environment for the past few years, working on everything from the ground floor up. Another partnership she said benefits the employees is collaboration with the University of Charleston School of Pharmacy, which provides a wellness program in several stores.

And the 11th store opened last week in Cross Lanes, with crowds, honors and giveaways.

McKinley said they have nearly 400 employees, and she expects to exceed their goal of employing 1,000 West Virginians this year.

"That's a tremendous difference than where we were, say, two years ago," she said.