Even though Goodwill of Central Arizona prides itself on helping thousands of people with barriers financially support their families through the power of work, the Volunteer Program is quietly becoming one of the organization’s biggest success stories.
In January, the Volunteer Program at Goodwill of Central Arizona was named as Goodwill Industries International’s 2011 Volunteer Program of the Year. Representatives from Goodwill of Central Arizona will pick up the award at the 2011 Delegate Assembly in June in Rochester, NY.
Goodwill of Central Arizona planted the seeds for its Volunteer Program in March 2009 when it started leveraging relationships with law enforcement professionals so it could serve and place individuals who needed to earn and complete court-ordered community service hours. All volunteers were required to meet certain criteria before being placed and were subject to a background check.
This effort has proved to be extremely beneficial for Goodwill of Central Arizona because the organization received thousands of hours of help in its Retail Stores and Career Centers.
In 2010 alone, Goodwill of Central Arizona placed 2,285 volunteers.
Now, the Volunteer Program has evolved into an initiative that offers skills training and employment services to disadvantaged youth and adults.
For example, Goodwill has been offering free English as a Second Language (ESL) sessions to Arizona residents since 2009. Each ESL session lasts 10-12 weeks and students gain valuable lessons on grammar, speaking, writing and listening.
Furthermore, the Volunteer Program has also implemented a “How to Brand Yourself to Employers” Workshop Series. Community partners such as American Express and Anthem College Online have helped Goodwill to host the seminars which focus on job preparation including resume building, networking, interviewing and highlighting core skills and strengths. The How to Brand Yourself to Employers workshops are free to the public.
In addition, Arizonans are receiving basic computer skills training through the Volunteer Program. Instructors teach class participants how to turn on a computer, how to access the Internet and how to use/recognize the computer’s components.
Tamera Murray, Volunteer Program Manager, said that the computer class students are eventually encouraged to enroll in Goodwill of Central Arizona’s Computer and Customer Service Training (CCST) program which prepares them for employment in the clerical, financial services or customer service fields. The fast-paced curriculum consists of 120 classroom hours on the topics of computer basics, customer service, telephone service, financial services and human relations. Students also learn how to use the Internet and the basics of Microsoft Office products.
Ultimately, Goodwill’s Volunteer Program will invite community members to help educate fellow central Arizonans about how the nonprofit positively impacts thousands of lives annually. These members will be Goodwill Ambassadors who will soon work in retail stores, greeting and helping customers while telling them about how their donations turn into dollars that help Arizonans in their quest for employment and economic sustainability. Ambassadors will also make presentations to local businesses and civic groups about how they can support Goodwill.
“I have watched this program grow and develop into an initiative that helps almost everyone within the community,” said Murray. “While Goodwill continues to grow our services, we are always developing and creating volunteer opportunities in our retail stores, workforce development and administration. I am extremely proud to receive this award from Goodwill Industries International.”
Jim Teter, President and CEO, is also excited about the Volunteer Program’s award and what it means to the Goodwill of Central Arizona organization.
“We are truly thrilled about this honor,” said Teter. “Through the Volunteer Program, Goodwill of Central Arizona has been incredibly successful in our efforts to educate the public about how our programs and services give our disadvantaged neighbors a ‘hand up’ to get ahead.”
If you are interested in joining the Goodwill of Central Arizona Volunteer team, please fill out a profile online at