BENNINGTON -- Some customers walk into the Goodwill Store at 215 North St. and think it’s just a retail thrift shop, according to manager Clark Gable (no relation to the film actor). And that’s just fine, but "that store is just my fundraiser."
"Our mission is to help people become employable."
Goodwill Industries is an international nonprofit that provides on-the-job training for people with disabilities, who lack an education or experience, or who face other challenges to finding work. Gable said the nonprofit worked with community partners to help individuals prepare for gainful employment.
As general manager for the Bennington store over the past year, Gable said he had seen hundreds of people pass through Goodwill’s vocational training. The local store employs about a dozen, with an additional dozen rotating through the job training program, which can typically last between two and three months.
Gable said the experience building soft skills and retail knowledge at Goodwill helped individuals gain self-confidence and become a productive part of the community.
Goodwill partners with Vermont’s Reach Up program and helps individuals prepare for job interviews or their first apartment with clothing and furnishings.
The organization’s network of retail thrift stores operate as nonprofits in addition to training sites, and gladly accept a wide assortment of items in good condition for resale -- or recycling. "In addition to items we can sell on the floor, we can recycle" items like electronics, Gable said, with the main exception of televisions.
Goodwill Industries of the Berkshires recycled 178,000 pounds of electronics in 2012.
"Donations are what drives everything for us." In addition, "Everything that is donated in Vermont, stays in Vermont," Gable continued. The main store for Goodwill of the Berkshires in Pittsfield, Mass., currently provides some merchandise for the Bennington location, but further donations locally could some day make up that slack.
Gable said he wanted to hear any ideas people might have to support the organization, such as donation drives or sponsoring a drop-off location. He said he was interested in partnering with the town and local Green Up Vermont organizers to sponsor a weeklong cleanup around Bennington this coming Earth Day.
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