Celebrating Five Years at the Leon Levine Opportunity Center on the Goodwill Opportunity Campus
by LaRita Barber, Chief Advancement Officer
The audacity of hope is powerful thing. It took audacity to commit significant resources to a vision that would take years to be realized. But, that is exactly the courageous step that Goodwill Industries of the Southern Piedmont took as we embarked on the journey to build the Leon Levine Opportunity Center on the Goodwill Opportunity Campus. It took a village of committed team members, board members, donors and nonprofit partners to make the campus a reality.
As we pause to reflect on how far we have come since opening the doors on June 30, 2016 – the lessons learned, the lives transformed, the challenges faced and persevered, and the clarity of purpose crystalized – we are in awe of what a mustard seed of faith and hope can accomplish.
One might ask, what gave Goodwill the audacity to have such high hopes and bold ambition? What gave Goodwill the audacity to bet our future on a new way of providing services that was yet untested, that had no guarantees, and required more resources than we could supply on our own? What gave Goodwill the confidence to keep pressing forward when some state and federal legislation do not fully support our vision of opportunity and prosperity? When policies do not align with our participants’ goals to create prosperity, and the very supports that would provide stability are threatened or eliminated entirely?
What the audacity of hope has done is to embolden us to have the courage to see opportunities in our community to make a difference, to dream big, to take bold action, to take calculated risks and to have enough faith in our convictions and our mission to invest in people. While the Leon Levine Opportunity Center on the Goodwill Opportunity Campus is beautiful, it is the people that give it and us purpose. It is the people that give it a heartbeat.
Since 2016, so many people have experienced the campus. Individuals have come to take full advantage of a multitude of classes to upskill and seek better employment opportunities, meet with a coach or access technology on-site. People have visited the campus for their banking needs, to see a doctor or dentist, have a meal or cup of coffee, attend a meeting or event in our conference center, to volunteer, work in the urban garden, to shop and donate. This is exactly what we envisioned.
The campus is a source of light and hope. The work that the campus allows us to do gives us confidence to say that our work matters. It gives us a sense of pride to have others join us in this important work to partner with individuals to pursue their goals. What an honor to create a village of advocates to help propel people to a build a life that includes adequate resources to meet their basic needs, plan for the future, access meaningful career opportunities and contribute to their community. It is also a tremendous honor and responsibility to do this work.
What the audacity of hope has done is demonstrate to our community that all people matter, that justice and equity matter, and that we all share responsibility for creating a community where all can prosper. Without the audacity of hope, we would not have been able to navigate our way through the challenges of 2020. The racial and social unrest, and the pandemic, required us to hold tight to our belief in the audacity of hope to know that we had to be courageous to use our voice and do the work to shine a light on things that were not as they should be.
Since opening the Leon Levine Opportunity Center on the Goodwill Opportunity Campus five years ago, we have been blessed by so many individuals, nonprofit partners, foundations and corporations that began this journey with us, and so many others who have joined us along the way.
The $20 million investment to build the Leon Levine Opportunity Center on the Goodwill Opportunity Campus has allowed us to serve more than 45,000 individuals and create 150 new jobs at this one location. Our partners have supported so many in these five years, as well; Charlotte Community Health Clinic has been able to provide access to care for 25,000 patients and the Charlotte Metro Credit Union has created access for over 12,000 people to become banked.
The Leon Levine Opportunity Center on the Goodwill Opportunity Campus helps people see possibilities, seize opportunities and prosper. It is the realization of our audacity of hope.