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Local Goodwill wins national award for excellence in family strengthening

By Staff | Dec 14, 2011

Goodwill Industries of Southwest Florida is one of just five Goodwill agencies nationwide selected to receive a 2011 Goodwill Family Strengthening Center of Excellence Award. The agency is being recognized for its corporate philosophy and forward-thinking practices that promote economic self-sufficiency for its employees and program participants.

The Family Strengthening Center of Excellence Awards are sponsored by Goodwill Industries International and the Annie E. Casey Foundation. They honor Goodwill agencies that incorporate family financial stability strategies into their organization’s mission, vision and program offerings.

Since 2001, the Annie E. Casey Foundation has granted more than $1.4 million to stimulate the family strengthening initiatives of a total of 41 local Goodwill agencies that have received family strengthening awards.

“To be successful at work, everyone needs to be confident that their families are healthy and safe and that their home life is stable,” said Jim Gibbons, president and CEO of Goodwill Industries International. “For more than 10 years, Goodwill and the Anne E. Casey Foundation have been partners in family strengthening, enabling local Goodwill agencies to address the unique needs of families by providing career development, financial literacy, certification programs, and charter schools for youth with disabilities and other disadvantages.”

In Southwest Florida, Goodwill established a family strengthening team of senior managers and front-line staff who were charged with surveying the staff and making recommendations for family strengthening initiatives. The agency’s “How’s Life” survey asked employees about their worries and concerns. Based on this work, Goodwill Industries of Southwest Florida has begun offering its employees financial planning seminars through a partnership with SunTrust, and will soon partner with a local agency to provide affordable child care assistance.

Goodwill also offers family strengthening benefits to its 600-plus Southwest Florida employees, including a sick leave pool, succession planning and training programs for employees who would like to advance within the organization, and an emergency funds assistance program.

To provide family strengthening initiatives to the Southwest Florida community, Goodwill operates nine Job-Link family resource centers, which co-locate a number of human service agencies to provide “one-stop shops” for people with disabilities and other disadvantages. The agency also operates the Goodwill L.I.F.E. Academy, a Lee County Charter School, which serves students with developmental disabilities. The school aims for 100 percent of graduates to have jobs or additional vocational training opportunities upon graduation.

Other Goodwill agencies honored with the 2011 Family Strengthening Center of Excellence Awards include: Goodwill Industries of Lane and South Coast Counties (Eugene, Ore.), Goodwill Industries of Upstate/Midlands South Carolina (Greenville, S.C.), Goodwill Industries of San Antonio (Texas), Goodwill Industries of Northwest North Carolina (Winston-Salem, N.C.)

All five agencies will be honored in June 2012 during Goodwill’s annual Delegate Assembly in Miami.

Goodwill Industries of Southwest Florida Inc. serves Lee, Collier, Charlotte, Hendry and Glades counties by providing programs and services that help people with disabilities and other disadvantages become more independent and self-sufficient.