Tuesday, November 19, 2013

A Disturbing Look at Goodwill

As somebody who has supported Goodwill Industries for some time now as a contributor, customer and advocate, I found this NBC report distressing and discouraging.

The expressed mission of this $5 billion industry, employing 110,000 workers in the U.S., is to provide jobs for those who either have a disability that prevents other work or people who simply can't find jobs elsewhere.

The total employment includes 7,000-8,000 disabled workers, according to the report, and some of Goodwill's workers make less than minimum wage. Far less than minimum wage. Twenty-two cents an hour in at least one case. Goodwill and organizations like it are exempt from the minimum wage requirements at the federal level, but its executives often make half a million a year or more.

All of this gives me pause as I bundle up the next round of toss-outs, items with a lot of life left in them that could be profitable for GWLtd, as I have come to call Goodwill. I'd love to see a culture change that treated people fairly. Not even Walmart pays its people this little and puts a stopwatch on their work, timing them.

Maybe it's time to start thinking of the Rescue Mission or the Salvation Army in Roanoke as more worthy of my support. I know the people who run the Mission and I am confident they'd never dream of paying a worker 22 cents an hour or putting a stopwatch on their work. Taking part in their religious services is required to get help, but I can stomach that if it's all that's available ... and sometimes it is.


  1. i've been hearing a lot of bad about gw lately...we have a nice new one here in daleville. it's been so easy to donate there but maybe you are right, the rescue mission would probably be a better choice.

  2. Take your things to the Salvation Army thrift store near Happys off Williamson Road. They are wonderful and the Army has the highest amount of every dollar donated that goes to those in need. Plus they offer much more than a bed for the night they offer programs to help people rebuild their lives.

  3. Assume makes one of you and me. I have written several stories on special education young people who receive job site training from Goodwill. I have written stoires about their programs on the local level including a wonderful one on a budget program theyhold at middle and high schools.
    They provide a place where employment can be found no matter the challenge. So ye withour t sin cast the first stone. An exec makes too much? Write the board of directors don't sut the legs out from under a person who want to feel productive. My cousin worked at Goodwill years ago. She loved getting off the bus and was happy she had a job, too, A person working at Goodwill Industires may also be on SSI or disabaility. Maybe the pay rate is low because of that. Did you ask?
    I see kids working at Food Lion in Daleville. I see people get off the Goodwill bus in Botetourt and other areas. You know what I see? Someone who is productive no matter what has challenged them.
    If you cut the legs out from under Goodwill-- what happens to these folks who are doing what they can to have a productive life? You go not one step beyond who really is helped. With all of these fed and state budget cuts... Geez think before you do, people.
    As for me and my household we will continue to donate to Goodwill. I have seen their good programs in action. If they need reforming at the top. I say write those letters to the board of directors --all of whom are listed online. Moreover. Ask before you write and slam dunk a non profit organization that does plenty of good. It's called interviewing all parties.