SARASOTA/BRADENTON, FL – Through the Veterans Services Program, Goodwill Manasota is working to help returning servicemen and women reintegrate back into their families, communities and jobs. The program was created three years ago and, in that time, has served 1,266 veterans, connecting them with necessary social services, providing emotional and physical support, offering employment services, and distributing funds for emergency needs.
“Goodwill was one of the first organizations to respond to the multitude of challenges faced by veterans and their families, and the families of those who serve on active duty,” said Goodwill Manasota president and CEO Bob Rosinsky. “We have worked to create a seamless case management system that supports each veteran’s unique strengths and needs regarding housing, family, education and other challenges, while helping to develop more self-sufficient and productive members of society. This is how we work to reach our goal of honoring and recognizing the many sacrifices our country’s veterans have made on our behalf.”
Goodwill’s Veterans Job Connection, which serves veterans, their spouses and families, provides veterans with a life coach, information and referral services, training and tuition reimbursement, and employment services, including a job coach. Goodwill has also spearheaded numerous alliances with a network of more than 250 partners to maximize resources and avoid duplication of services, to help transition veterans into employment aligned with their vocational goals and connect them with crucial human services.
To enhance employability skills, the Veterans Services Program also holds job skills training and resume building classes every Tuesday at its offices on north Lockwood Ridge Road in Sarasota. Since 2013, Goodwill has placed 118 veterans and family members in jobs.
Goodwill has worked to provide emotional and physical support through partnerships that have provided, among other things, holiday meals and gifts for veterans and their families, free “Connected Warrior Yoga” classes, and entertainment options (such as access to arts offerings and the circus) that the program participants might not otherwise have been able to enjoy.
In 2015, Goodwill launched the SERV (Special Emergency Resources for Veterans) program in response to a growing need for emergency financial assistance for veterans and their families for housing, education and food. A total of $15,000 has been raised, and more than 20 veterans and families helped with emergency needs, to date.
Additionally, Goodwill has received a grant of $225,000 from the U.S. Department of Labor to fund the Homeless Veterans Reintegration Program, which operates under the auspices of the Veterans Services Program. This grant is helping to expand the available service offerings provided by Goodwill to assist our returning heroes.
“All too often, we find that many veterans returning from combat have suffered mental or physical trauma while serving overseas. Not only are these veterans left without jobs or access to services, many return with no secured housing,” said C.J. Bannister, director of the Veterans Services Program. “We believe that our veterans deserve more – they deserve access to services they have earned, employment and housing. This grant is assisting people with critical needs and serves as a meaningful way to thank veterans for their service.”
Goodwill also participates in and presents special events to recognize and honor servicemen and woman, and veterans, including Memorial Day parades and Flag Day observances. Coming up on June 16, Goodwill presents “Salute the Runway,” honoring the community’s women veterans.
For more information about the Veterans Services Program or the “Salute the Runway” event, call (941) 355-2721 or go to experiencegoodwill.org.
About Goodwill Manasota
Goodwill Manasota is an industry-leading, 501(c)(3), not-for-profit organization that changes lives through the power of work. With the sales of donated goods and philanthropic donations, Goodwill is able to assist people with disabilities and other barriers to employment by providing job skills training and employment opportunities. In 2015, Goodwill Manasota served 22,739 people, placed 961 people in jobs and assisted 358 veterans as they reintegrated back into the civilian workforce. Goodwill Manasota’s economic impact back to the community is worth $81.3 million. Goodwill is one of the pioneers of the reduce-reuse-recycle movement and this past year diverted 41 million pounds out of the landfill. We accomplish our mission through a network of Good Neighbor Centers in Sarasota, Manatee, Hardee and DeSoto counties and our Mission Development Services (MDS) around North America. Goodwill Manasota is accountable to a local Board of Directors. Goodwill Manasota in essence belongs to this community, and is not owned by any individual or company. For more information, visit www.experiencegoodwill.org.