More than 3,000 years ago, ancient Greek philosopher Aristotle pinpointed the classical traits necessary to live a virtuous life. Prime among them ranks goodwill, which the father of Western philosophy defined thusly: “Goodwill is to recognize what would be good for someone else and to wish that it come about.”
Three thousand years later, a 125-year-old social-service institution in Greater Youngstown has proven its passionate commitment to that key virtue through its myriad actions and in its own name.
Since its beginnings in downtown Youngstown in 1893 as the Christ Mission Settlement, today’s Goodwill Industries of the Mahoning and Shenango valleys has earned its flattering moniker.
We congratulate Goodwill on its 125th anniversary for its burgeoning growth and bountiful success in fulfilling its primary mission of providing tangible and often life-saving opportunities for tens of thousands in need in Mahoning, Trumbull, Columbiana, Mercer and Lawrence counties.
Over those years, expansion in its retail and rehabilitation priorities has fueled its remarkable growth.
Goodwill’s presence in the region today comprises eight retail stores in Austintown, Boardman, Liberty, Warren, Salem, Calcutta, Hermitage and New Castle plus nine donation centers that supply those stores. It is one of 16 Goodwill Industries affiliates in Ohio.
Jim Freeze, executive director of the Valley’s Goodwill empire for about a year now, explains the agency’s mission succinctly: “As a nonprofit, our mission is to employ people with disabilities, and we do job training for people who have other barriers to employment.”
Those barriers have grown to include poverty, a condition endured by an increasingly large proportion of its target population.
With a staff of about 250 people and a budget of about $6 million, Goodwill in our region operates a four-to six-week job-training program that helps prepare people for the work world. Many have been referred from agencies such as the Beatitude House or the Rescue Mission of the Mahoning Valley.
But Goodwill’s virtuous deeds for our community do not stop there. The robust helping organization also:
Serves nearly 5,000 individuals annually in its vocational training programs, job-finding services and Radio Reading program for the blind.
Employs a population that otherwise most likely would rely on public assistance and therefore provides them with personal independence.
Bolsters the local economy by way of the $3.1 million it pays employees and clients annually and the $765,000 it pays in taxes.
Collects more than 4 million pounds of saleable goods from 150,000 donors annually.
Those accomplishments, however, merely scratch at the surface of the positive impact that Goodwill has had on ensuring our region meets and exceeds the goals of the international organization. Globally, Goodwill takes in about $5 billion in revenue and provides more than 300,000 people with job training and community services each year.
In our region, much of the success of the agency’s growth and success can be traced to the four-decade tenure of executive director Michael W. McBride that ended last year.
We’re confident, however, that Freeze, a highly credentialed West Point graduate and Iraq War veteran, will continue to build upon his predecessor’s legacy and Goodwill’s stellar reputation in the community.
MAKING GOODWILL MORE VISIBLE
Toward, those ends, we believe Freeze is off to a great start. The director has launched a campaign in conjunction with the anniversary to vastly increase the visibility of Goodwill to the largest audience possible in the Mahoning and Shenango valleys.
In addition to sprucing up the physical appearance of the agency’s stores and donation sites, he encourages anyone to tour the Belmont Avenue headquarters for a tour of Goodwill in action.
In addition, Valley residents can help as well. They can appropriately celebrate the 125th birthday by doubling down on their support. That includes nourishing the life line for Goodwill’s good works by generously donating gently used clothing and other goods.
In so doing, the virtuous public services that Goodwill performs so effectively can continue to thrive and grow for years and decades to come.