Goodwill launches new information and referrals program

Community Connection is helping to guide community members to resources to help them secure employment, housing, food, financial assistance, counseling services, and more

Published Wednesday, August 26, 2020

SARASOTA/MANATEE, FL – As communities and organizations across the country continue to make adjustments in response to the coronavirus pandemic, Goodwill Manasota is working to address current and urgent needs with a new program. Through Community Connection – which was launched in May – community members can access information and referrals for employment, food, housing, clothing, veterans’ services, financial needs, medical services, academic services, counseling services, technology services, and more. These services can be provided face-to-face or virtually, depending upon customer preference.

A critical component of Community Connection is that, once critical resources have been secured and program participants have been stabilized, those who may not be “employment ready” can get the services needed to improve their job readiness skills as well as receive assistance in all facets of the job hunt – from resume writing, interviewing, and searching for available and appropriate jobs.

What really distinguishes this program is expertise as well as the follow-up: after an individual receives assistance, a Community Connection resource specialist re-engages within two weeks to ensure that they have received the services requested (and, if not, to learn why). Goodwill uses the "why not" information to improve the experience for the next customer. Additionally, staff members are experts on available community resources to ensure that whatever the need, customers can be directed to the right provider efficiently.

"With the impacts of the coronavirus, we knew that we were going to have a lot of people looking for services that did not necessarily include employment and we also wanted to ensure that those seeking our services had choices about how to access assistance from us," said Margie Genter, vice president of mission services for Goodwill Manasota. "While this program is similar to the information and referral programs we have always had, we rounded out the program with a virtual option as well as an intensive customer service component that enables us to consistently learn and improve, and benefit quickly from customer feedback."

In order to accommodate this new offering, Goodwill moved most of its in-person Job Connection career services to a virtual platform. This enabled Goodwill to provide the ability to social distance and lowered barriers for job seekers looking to connect with needed services. Goodwill converted the Job Connection office at its Corporate Campus in Bradenton to an in-person Community Connection office.

Goodwill's focus remains on helping those with barriers to employment to find and retain jobs. When a customer says they are looking for work, the resource specialist will ask if they want to work at Goodwill or elsewhere.  If they want to work at Goodwill, they are offered access to a computer and provided assistance with the online application. Frequently, they can secure a face-to-face interview with a human resources team member on the spot. If the customer wants to work elsewhere, they are connected with Goodwill's virtual Job Connection platform, where they can access free resources and services to help them through the job search process.

For more about Goodwill, go to experiencegoodwill.org or call 941-355-2721.

PHOTO ID: Goodwill Community Connection resource specialist Yolanda Garcia (left) assists Bradenton resident Cherry Moore

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 philanthropic donations and revenue generated by the sales of donated goods, Goodwill is able to assist people with disabilities, veterans, seniors, and those with other barriers to employment by providing jobs, job skills training, and free career services. For more information or for a listing of locations, visit www.experiencegoodwill.org or call 941-355-2721.