Goodwill gives jobs to local vets

HALO (High-altitude, low opening) jumping: it’s a free-fall from 21,000 feet. Paratroopers release chutes moments before meeting mother earth in the most unfortunate way. The jump’s purpose is to avoid enemy radar detection.


Our military personnel preform extraordinary tasks during service years, yet many find the leap back into the civilian world a formidable foe.


“They’re used to military jargon, military everything,” Goodwill’s Operation Good Jobs program manager Katie Martin said. “They hit the reality of what the actual standard salary is in the Temple/Killeen area.”


She serves clients, some of which made an “upwards of $70,000 a year,” in the military, by helping them succeed in the workplace.


Operation Good Jobs is a non-covert mission to thank our military persons. It’s a program funded by a $5 million grant from the Walmart Foundation.


Goodwill expects to serve more than 4,000 veterans and military families over the grant period that extends into July 2016.


Heart of Texas Goodwill Industries is one of 12 Goodwill store participants.


“Our area covers from Killeen to Waco, so we have exactly 220 people enrolled in the grant right now,” Martin said.


The grant is performance based. Heart of Texas Goodwill’s potential funds from the grant sits at $300,000.


Martin added that it’s not a program just for veterans: “it’ active duty transitioning out, family members, both spouses and dependents, and it’s even Reserves and National Guard,” she said. “Just as long as they don’t have a dishonorable discharge, we’ll absolutely take them.”


The goal of the program is geared to find participants a job that is “career sustaining, family sustaining,” she said.


Heart of Texas Goodwill Learning Center Coordinator for Temple and Belton, Victoria Cairo, said they would help participants in any way possible.


So, whether it’s helping clients get a bus pass, enrolling them in a computer class, providing them with interview clothes or even advice on resume and portfolio building, the learning center staff will help.


She echoed Martin’s statements of the long-term placement being the backbone of the program.


“There’s only so long you can work at a minimum wage paying job with three kids,” Cairo said.


The learning centers are for everyone, not just those who meet the Operation Good Jobs requirements.


“We’ll help you find a quick job if that’s what you want, but our goal is, what’s long term?” she said. “If you’re real goal is to make a certain amount of money and be employed full-time, come back in. Let’s make sure we update that resume and we’ll check in with you in a couple of weeks.”


For those looking to be a part of the grant, make sure to be ready to meet its milestones:

1)            Job placement

2)            6 month job retention

3)            1 year job retention

4)            Attainment of a credential/certification.

5)            Also, it’s a case management-intensive program. Goodwill staff members will remain in contact with clients on a bi-weekly basis.


Communication and long-term placement are essential to success.


And it’s all for one reason.


“Just so they know there are people in their corner,” Martin said.

Author: Tyler Agnew

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