Opinion: Goodwill perseveres during COVID crisis

The Goodwill store at Quarry Walk Plaza in Oxford.

The Goodwill store at Quarry Walk Plaza in Oxford.

Christian Abraham / Hearst Connecticut Media

On March 20, 2020, the pandemic shut down the 21 retail stores and seven standalone donation facilities run by our nonprofit organization, Goodwill of Western and Northern Connecticut. Worse, the crisis forced us to shutter our seven career centers, which help Connecticut residents get back to work free of charge. The outlook was bleak. How would we uphold our mission when we couldn’t even open our doors?

Like many organizations, we seized the opportunity to pivot. We implemented a contact-free “drop and go” model at our donation locations, hoping our donors of gently used items would continue to think of us as they were tackling their housebound pandemic projects. And we shifted our career centers to a virtual model, ensuring that we could deliver our vital services and keep many Connecticut residents employed in that very different landscape.

This linkage is vital to us. Every time someone shops in person or online at Goodwill of Western and Northern Connecticut, they directly support our mission. More than 90 percent of the revenue generated by our retail stores and shopgoodwill.com is reinvested into our programs and services. At a time when so many of our neighbors are unemployed or underemployed, this support is crucial to strengthen families and communities around Connecticut.

As we look to the months ahead, the support from donors and shoppers will remain pivotal for ensuring we can meet the needs of our community. Supporting Connecticut’s employment recovery requires an all-hands-on-deck approach, and we are proud to be one of the organizations contributing towards achieving this goal. Our career centers are open with coaches available in person or by phone to help with resumes, cover letters, interview skills and more. We are helping job seekers make their best and strongest first impression daily. And we are able to provide those services at no cost to those who need them because of you, our donors, and shoppers.

We have relearned from countless stories during the pandemic that we can make a positive and lasting impact on our neighbors when we work together in our communities. I encourage all of you to keep doing good in your communities and thank you for helping us to do good by providing critical services at no cost to Connecticut residents looking for work.

Jeff Wieser is president & CEO of Goodwill of Western and Northern Connecticut.