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“My Mind is Blown”: Hampton Roads Professionals Take Goodwill Works Tour

A group of Hampton Roads media and business professionals had an eye-opening experience during a Goodwill Works Tour at Goodwill’s Hampton Support Center on January 24.

Representatives from Inside Business, the Hampton Roads Chamber of Commerce and Supervalu (Farm Fresh) learned how thousands of job seekers benefit each year from Goodwill’s employment programs and services, thanks to ongoing support from the community.

“I wanted to understand more of its logistics and how Goodwill has its hands in so many pots when it comes to workforce development,” said Hunter Walsh, member development manager at the Hampton Roads Chamber of Commerce. Walsh said he also has a personal interest in Goodwill, as he makes weekly visits to the Goodwill retail store near his home.

Tour participants learned how Goodwill works – from its social enterprises in retail, donated goods and contract services to education, training and workforce development programs for individuals facing challenges to work. Those programs are provided at no cost to job seekers at five community employment centers across Central and Coastal Virginia.

At Goodwill’s regional support center in Hampton, tour guests also saw the community employment center, a retail store, an outlet where shoppers can purchase goods by the pound, and an electronics store. A highlight of the tour was the production operation where Goodwill processes more than 54,000,000 pounds of goods each year to re-sell or recycle to generate revenue for its mission, as well as Thomas Nelson Community College’s Center for Building and Construction Trades, where students are trained in HVAC, electrical and facilities maintenance and earn certifications in these trades to boost their careers.

“I noticed the organization is a well-oiled machine,” said Sandra Peneke, a staff writer at the Virginian-Pilot. “Walking through the facility and seeing what goes on – it’s a lot,” she said.

At the conclusion of the tour, the participants shared their biggest realizations. “I am on a number of boards, so I saw opportunities to connect people with Goodwill. There are ways to fill the gaps and meet the needs of multiple organizations,” said Michelle Ellis Young, customer service manager at Supervalu.

“My mind is blown. Few people have an appreciation of what happens behind the scenes at Goodwill. You are doing a lot more than just selling things to the general population,” said Walsh.

The one-hour lunchtime tours are offered monthly. There is no cost to attend, but registration is required. Click here for more information on how to sign up for a Goodwill Works Tour.