Economic Opportunity: AmeriCorps - AmeriCorps Goodwill Goodworks!

AmeriCorps Goodwill Goodworks! has been a program at Goodwill Industries of the Big Bend (GIBB) for five years, utilizing AmeriCorps members to further Goodwill’s mission of providing job training, education and employment to people with barriers to employment.

AmeriCorps members serve at 11 Goodwill sites and non-profits, reaching 18 counties in North Florida. Members assist individuals who have experienced challenges including family crisis, underemployment, lack of access to education and homelessness. Members provide resource referrals and job training and ultimately help individuals to secure employment.

Last year, Goodwill Goodworks! AmeriCorps provided over 18,000 hours of service, connecting 2,016 individuals with community resources including training, employment assistance, and housing assistance. Members recruited 224 volunteers who donated 3,406 hours valued at over $125,000.

This year, AmeriCorps members are on track to surpass last year’s achievements. Now mid-way in the grant year, over 1,500 economically disadvantaged individuals have received job placement assistance from members, resulting in 375 individuals attaining employment!

AmeriCorps members also sustain a culture of service throughout the region as demonstrated by AmeriCorps Week 2013. Goodwill Goodworks! members partnered with the Florida Association of Food Banks to provide over 1,600 lbs of food to local food pantries – enough for 1,333 meals!

Focus on: Jobs Angel Julius faced a barrier to employment because of her criminal history record. She became an AmeriCorps Goodwill Goodworks! member in 2009 and served two years. Angel says she was given a “second chance” in life through Goodwill and AmeriCorps. Her living allowance helped her through financial difficulty and she was able to start a degree in social work, to fulfill her dream to help the community that helped her so much. Angel is now employed by Goodwill as a job coach. Her personal experience of overcoming challenges has given her the training and compassion needed to counsel individuals facing their own struggles. Angel’s son, Alex, is now an AmeriCorps member, too. Angel describes AmeriCorps as ‘a tree with lots of good strong roots in the ground, and branches spreading out to impact individuals and communities with ever-broadening scope and diversity.’

Sidra Case dropped out of school in the eighth grade and knew that her only option for a career was to earn her GED. With the help of AmeriCorps member Alizia Bazo-Black, Sidra enrolled in a GED program in January 2013; she studied her coursework diligently despite health issues. Alizia also helped Sidra to secure her first job as a cashier in March 2013 so she could save the money to pay for her GED test and driver’s license.

Today, Sidra has earned her GED with outstanding scores, is engaged to be married in January 2015, and continues to work hard as a cashier. She is excited about going to college to become a nurse this fall.

AmeriCorps Goodwill Goodworks! is an AmeriCorps State Program supported by CNCS, Volunteer Florida, GIBB and community partners. Goodwill provides free job training, placement, and other community programs by selling donated clothing and household items through retail stores and online.