Board member Charles Link reflects on service, growth and personal impact
When Charles Link joined Goodwill of Central and Coastal Virginia’s (GCCVA) Board of Directors in 1987, he never imagined it was the beginning of a 30-year commitment.
“My boss served on Goodwill’s Board and asked me to take his place because he was moving,” said Link. At the time he was with First and Merchant’s National Bank and had moved to Richmond with his wife, Sylvia. Link took a tour of Goodwill and agreed to join the Board.
“Basically, during my first meeting I was elected Treasurer, since that’s the role my boss held,” he recalled.
Although Link initially joined Goodwill as a professional obligation, he served well beyond the initial term for many reasons including a very personal one.
“The younger of my two daughters, Courtney, was two months old when I joined Goodwill,” said Link. When she was three, was diagnosed as developmentally delayed.
“Like all parents, we want our children to grow to be happy, healthy and self-reliant,” said Link. “I became more attuned to the demand for programs that address the needs of people who may have challenges to securing meaningful employment, and strengthened my resolve to ensure that Goodwill could serve as many families as possible.”
Soon after joining the Board, Goodwill implemented a five-year plan to relocate its Richmond Operations Support Center from the former Nolde Bakery building in Church Hill to a larger facility. The new location on Midlothian Turnpike would be more accessible by those who needed Goodwill’s services most – individuals with challenges to employment, including those with disabilities.
“It would require us to raise $3.6 million, find the right facility and secure a loan,” said Link. At the time Goodwill had a $2 million operating budget and served a few hundred people each year.
“Today, thanks to the strong leadership and the generosity of our community, we have a $70 million operating budget and serve nearly 20,000 people each year with job skills training and placement with a wide variety of employers – not just Goodwill,” noted Link.
The (now) retired banker cumulatively has served Goodwill on its Board of Directors and its Advisory Board for 30 years.
Thanks to the service of Link and others who have volunteered their time and expertise, GCCVA – an autonomous social enterprise in 39 cities and counties — ranks among the top tier of 164 Goodwills in North America. Three years ago, Courtney Link—now in her twenties–took an opportunity to intern with Goodwill’s finance team. After experiencing her high level of attention to detail and organizational skills, Goodwill offered Courtney a full-time position in 2014.
Today, as the finance assistant, Courtney is responsible for scanning documents and assisting the purchasing department with distribution of orders for more than 35 Goodwill locations.
Link has observed his daughter’s personal growth and development since she began working at Goodwill. “She’s come a long way in her communication skills and her relationships,” observed Link. “The values-based leadership culture places a premium on integrity, respect and teamwork among all staff.”
“When you help people who are disadvantaged or have a disability to become employed you help them become productive and self-sufficient members of the community,” he added.
“Being able to earn and spend your own money is powerful psychologically,” said Link. “Donors should feel good knowing that when they give to Goodwill, they are helping individuals and they are also helping our society to prosper as a whole.”