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Goodwill spreading in Hanover County

Posted on Thursday, January 30, 2014 at 10:15 am

On March 27, Hanover County will have a brand new Goodwill store, giving area residents one more spot to pick up bargain clothes, electronics and household items, which directly support the business’ mission— to provide jobs for individuals in the community who are unemployed or have disabilities and cannot obtain work.

Work is underway on a third Goodwill location in  Hanover County near Virginia Center Commons.

Work is underway on a third Goodwill location in Hanover County near Virginia Center Commons.

And to achieve their goals, the company thought the location on Washington Highway near the Henrico County line was a good idea.

“We think the location outweighs the fact that the lot is smaller than we typically like,” said Ellen Thornhill, communications manager.

Thornhill said they usually choose areas with about two or more acres of land and this lot has 1.5 acres.

But she said this location was perfect because of all the surrounding growth and the businesses expected to move in around the new store.

“There’s great donor potential in this area,” Thornhill said.

Thornhill said they hope the store will receive approximately 600 donations a week.

There is already another store in Ashland on Dow Gil Road and another in Mechanicsville, but there is a need for the new store.

“It’s easier for the donors,” said Claribel Torres, retail operations manager for the store.

She said this location, which Goodwill members refer to as the “Virginia Center” store, will be more convenient for people who live south of the store.

“We want to open as many as the community can support,” Thornhill said.

The Goodwill on Route 1 will start taking donations a few weeks before the grand opening. Donors will be able to utilize a drive-through drop-off service when the store officially opens.

After six to 12 months, the location will also have two in-store programs, “Enclave” and “School-to-Work.” These programs train people with disabilities or special needs and supply them with jobs at the store. The School to Work program partners with local high schools and teaches students life skills such managing paychecks and budgeting and work skills.

“We’re not just about technical skills but also soft skills, like how to communicate in the workplace or how to build relationships,” Thornhill said.

Last year Goodwill helped more than 17,000 people with their mission programs in Central Virginia and Hampton Roads and they placed about 2,000 of those individuals in “competitive employment,” Thornhill said.

The company helps people get jobs at grocery stores and restaurants through their community employment centers; there are five such centers locally.

About 82 percent of the money earned at Goodwill goes to supporting those programs, which directly help community members get jobs. Because of this mission, Thornhill described the company as a “social enterprise.”

Although all stores work toward the same mission, Thornhill said each works independently so that all funds are going into the local communities and helping those people find jobs.

All Central Virginia and Hampton Roads stores assist individuals in those specific communities rather than people on the West Coast or in a different state. There are a total of 15 stores in the Richmond metro region and 29 in the combined area.

If individuals are interested in retail, there are also opportunities for them to be trained to work at a Goodwill store.

Thornhill said that those who are employed with the company receive above minimum wage. Also, each employee gets health care and dental benefits as well as life insurance and tuition reimbursement.

“Living wage and competitive employment are phrases that are meaningful for us,” she said.