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Goodwill Industries of Monocacy Valley supports local community

Kathleen A. O'Connor

(12/28) (GIMV) is located at 400 East Church Street in Frederick, MD, and the Goodwill retail store in Thurmont is located at 202 East Main Street. The store is open Monday - Saturday from 9:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. For more information or to ask for services, telephone 301-662-0622. Fax 301-846-0940 or e-mail Access the Web site at Goodwill has been in operation in Frederick County since 1969.

The proceeds from the Goodwill retail store support employment, vocational rehabilitation, and family and individual support services to people with disabilities and other disadvantaging conditions, e.g., the need to become independent of welfare, to learn to read better, to find a home, or to become better educated. Goodwill's motto is "Our business works, so people can." Work is crucial to an individual's self-concept and role in his or her community. Goodwill adds that it is crucial to the economic and social prosperity of the community, for it allows people to build constructive relationships with each other, and to gain self-esteem and the confidence to lead. It also helps them to foster a strong work ethic in their children's lives that, in turn, will enable them to become vital contributing members of their own communities.

Goodwill services include retailing donated materials, which not only provides revenue for other services, but also helps the community by recycling to other homes clothing and household goods that might otherwise be destroyed and overburden the county landfill. Each year, Goodwill recycles 2,000,000 pounds of clothing! The organization also provides state-of-the-art mailing, assembly and packaging services that train and employ local citizens who further are supported in their work with help in setting and achieving goals. Transportation to work and appointments is offered as participants learn the public transportation system. Goodwill provides training that includes vocational evaluation, work adjustment (i.e., good work habits), job coaching, and welfare-to-work transioning. "We also offer ESL (English as a second language) and GED (General Education Diploma) training in-store, and are seeking volunteer instructors to expand the program," said CEO Dan Kurtenbach. During all of this training and work placement, the agency offers-from its own stores-emergency clothing and household goods to local residents who are referred by other agencies or who have an emergency that has been reported in the local press, e.g., a home fire.

Other programs the agency offers include the assistive device program through which Goodwill loans wheelchairs, crutches and walkers to local residents with a medical need. This service is coordinated with the Wal-Mart pharmacy in Frederick. To share and share alike, Goodwill asks that citizens return the medical equipment when they no longer need it, so that other citizens can use it. The organization also provides consumer and employee support services for people with disabilities or disadvantages, e.g., learning the public transportation system, opening a bank account or obtaining medical treatment. The not-for-profit also offers social educational, recreational and vocational opportunities to individuals with developmental disabilities to help them become independent, productive and a vital part of their communities. Support and respite services are provided to caretakers and family members.

"We offer many services at our Frederick center," said Dan, "but I would like to announce a new program that we want to have in place in the next year through our retail stores. We plan to install two computer kiosks in every store in our region, so that citizens who don't have a computer, but need a job, can get computer training and search for employment." To use the computers, visitors would complete an application to get a login; then the application would go to Frederick, so that the staff could them how to get the computer training they might have asked for. This new program would bring the Goodwill philosophy of economic prosperity through work out into every community where there is a retail store!

Christmas wish for the new year? "First, that everyone can find in himself or herself the hope and faith to achieve the job he or she desires, the education to get that job, and a happy family," says Dan. "Second, that the public would understand the connection between our retail stores and our services that their purchases in the stores make possible. And third, that donors would be inspired to help us fund our new in-store computer kiosks!"