President Barack Obama shared some poignant thoughts during his recent State of the Union Address. Of particular note, his views on the economy and the challenges of individuals in poverty are where we see the most opportunity for partnerships and community support.
As he stated, “Today, technology doesn’t just replace jobs on the assembly line, but any job where work can be automated. Companies in a global economy can locate anywhere, and they face tougher competition…It’s made it harder for a hardworking family to pull itself out of poverty, harder for young people to start their careers, tougher for workers to retire when they want to. And although none of these trends are unique to America, they do offend our uniquely American belief that everybody who works hard should get a fair shot…America is about giving everybody willing to work a chance, a hand up. But…progress is not inevitable. It’s the result of choices we make together.”
President Obama’s words harken back to those of our founder:
“Friends of Goodwill, be dissatisfied with your work until every person in your community has an opportunity to develop to their fullest usefulness and enjoy a maximum of abundant living,” said Rev. Edgar J. Helms.
While workforce development initiatives in our community have grown dramatically since the recession, much of the work has focused on simply getting people jobs. True economic sustainability requires a broader focus. In 2016, we will open the Goodwill Opportunity Campus, with the goal of having more job seekers in our community able to obtain, retain and ultimately achieve their goals of family sustaining employment through the power of partnership and our collective impact. The vision is to have a positive influence on economic mobility, thus breaking the cycle of poverty.
When someone comes to Goodwill looking for employment, we look at the whole person. For this reason, we have identified community partners to help our clients address barriers in education, healthcare, finance, legal, childcare and emergency assistance. Only when these basic needs are met can a person achieve overall wellbeing and be prepared to achieve family sustaining employment.
For Goodwill Industries of the Southern Piedmont, your support and new community-based partners such as Charlotte Community Health Clinic, Charlotte Metro Credit Union, Common Wealth Charlotte and The Center for Community Transitions are hugely important. We are delighted that they will have a full-time, on-site presence in the Leon Levine Opportunity Center on the Goodwill Opportunity Campus to enhance the client experience. Working collaboratively with these organizations under one roof and your support will enable Goodwill to provide convenient access to services that positively influence a client’s economic mobility.
Truly, collaboration and partnerships are the key to alleviating poverty and making a more impactful change in our society. President Obama is right: “…progress is not inevitable. It’s the result of choices we make together.”
What changes would you like to see in our community? How will you partner or collaborate to ignite change?
By Kilby Watson, Community Engagement Manager at Goodwill Industries of the Southern Piedmont.