While the Goodwill thrift centre, donation store and career centre opened up last fall, Goodwill recently held an open house and celebration of what it has accomplished so far.
Dale Monaghan, president and CEO of Goodwill Industries of Alberta, said there are five people who are a part of the Power of Work program, which is located in the career centre in the middle of the store. Proceeds from Goodwill go directly towards the career centre and the program.
“The Power of Work program is, first of all, it’s internationally recognized because all Goodwills in 17 countries have some sort of Power of Work program, and it’s all about creating employment opportunity for persons of disadvantage… in the case of our Goodwill, our purpose, our mission, is to support Albertans with disabilities to get great jobs,” he said.
“Power of Work, for our Goodwill, is our training and development program and then also, beyond training and development, job search and working with employers in the community to successfully hire a person with disability. It’s about preparation out of the person with disability that’s come to our Power of Work program, it’s about readying yourself for employment, so that means job search, that means rehearsals on interviews, that means focus and development on values (that are) important in the workplace, strategies on how to succeed in the workplace.”
Monaghan added that participants are taught the importance of showing up on time and putting in a full shift, as well as expectations in the workplace and interpersonal skills with other team members.
An open house was held on Friday, Feb. 6 to give businesses the opportunity to visit the career centre and talk to the Power of Work participants.
A unique aspect of the program, Monaghan noted, is its staff’s involvement in job search activity.
“We go out with our Power of Work personnel, and we go out and meet with businesses and explore some options for jobs. Oftentimes for employers with businesses, it’s not clear that there’s necessarily a job available for a person with disability,” he said.
The process is one that Monaghan called “job carving.”
“We’ll go to a business and help the decision-makers there carve a position that is valuable to them, but also is very suitable for a person with disabilities. From that, then we make the connection and an interview happens. We wholeheartedly believe that there has to be a tremendous fit… but the skills, the credential, the personality of the person with disability has to fit with that business, because this is not intended to be a short-term relationship, this is intended to be a mutually beneficial relationship that lasts a longer time. That’s what Power of Work is all about — it’s an incredible bundle of relationship and capacity building, which includes the business. This is not just getting a person with disability a job, this is an entire strategic relationship bundle that includes the employer, which is a partner in this whole power of work strategy.”
While one of the five participants currently has a job within the store, the career councillors at the career centre are continuing to work with the employee to teach greater employment skills, customer service and interpersonal relationships.
The donation centre can also be used as job training for the other four.
“The overall package… has been wonderful,” Monaghan said of the store, which has multiple purposes, including retail, the donation centre and career centre.
“The community has been tremendously welcoming to us.”
He said so far, since the store’s opening in October, there has been a large amount of shopping and donations, and the Robin Hood Association has helped Goodwill with training and advice. Monaghan said he also thanked Strathcona County residents for their support.
“We’re just overwhelmed with the reception and the continued support of residents who shop and donate and ultimately to me, it’s not Goodwill and the Power of Work that is creating all this training and opportunity, it is the resident who shop and donate — they’re our partners,” he said.