FORT MILL — Like most thrift shops, the new one Goodwill opened here recently offers bargains on clothes, home furnishings, appliances, toys and more.
Chances are, you already knew that.
But did you know how this not-for-profit uses the proceeds from its sales? The array of free services Goodwill offers and the impact the organization has on local communities might surprise you.
“The mission is to provide job services, training, instill skills and employment for people in the community,” store manager Steven Byrd said.
Store employees represent a cross section of the community.
“We have people between 18 years old to people over 70,” Byrd said. “We have retired veterans and college students, so it’s a very diverse group.”
Finding a suit or dress for just a few dollars or a full-sized refrigerator to replace the old that just conked out on you is just the beginning of Goodwill’s impact.
“You purchase an item in the store and it has a direct impact in the community,” Samantha Story, public relations and community manager for Goodwill Industries of the Southern Piedmont, said.
“This store created 25 new jobs with an estimated economic impact of $3.5 million annually,” including wages and sales,” she said – and Story was just getting started.
“We offer job training services through classes at (Charlotte’s) Goodwill University, everything from IT to a construction trade school. The funds that come here, yes, we’re happy to provide 25 additional jobs, but Goodwill (of the Southern Piedmont) has served 18 counties around the Charlotte area and helped over 11,000 people with job training and employment services.”
In addition to teaching new skills and providing “upskilling,” for those who want it, Goodwill helps newly trained folks find the good jobs they want.
“We’ll help you with your resumé, we’ll help you with your job search and accessing the job market,” Story said. “We also offered things like Microsoft Excel, Microsoft Word and in the past year we’ve added advanced IT training, including quality assurance and Salesforce.”
And the training and other services are all offered free of charge.
Perhaps one of the most intriguing programs in a region experiencing sustained growth is the one that teaches the building trades.
“Not only basic construction,” Story said, “but some of the really in-demand special areas of construction, like electrical, masonry and carpentry.”
The programs were specially curated to fit the needs of the region.
“The cool thing about Goodwill, I think, is that we’re an international brand, an international organization, but we’re run locally. Goodwill of the Southern Piedmont decides the programs that we think will best fit the community,” Story said.
Although Goodwill takes pride in helping “anyone with gaps in their work history,” including people formerly incarcerated and others rebuilding their lives, Story has a one-word answer when asked who is eligible for services.
“Everyone,” she said.
The Fort Mill store, at 2690 S.C. 160 West near the Waterstone subdivision, is the 26th opened by Goodwill in the Southern Piedmont region.
“Fort Mill is one of the fastest-growing towns in the nation, and we’re thrilled to open an additional location here to make shopping and donating even more convenient for our supporters in the area,” Barbara Maida-Stolle, chief business officer at Goodwill Industries of the Southern Piedmont, said in a statement.
“Our shoppers and donors play a vital role in driving the Goodwill mission, and we’re grateful for their support throughout the region.”
To donate items to the Fort Mill store, you don’t even need to leave your vehicle. Just pull into the drive-through around the back of the store and let Goodwill team members take it from there.
Want to know more?
You might want to check the Goodwill website at goodwillsp.org to see what kind of items are accepted for donation as well as information about programs and services. You can also sign up for alerts about sales and other news. For more, visit Goodwill on Facebook at Facebook.com/GoodwillSP, Twitter and Instagram @GoodwillSP and on LinkedIn at Goodwill Industries of the Southern Piedmont. You can call the Fort Mill store at 980-636-1050.