Thursday, August 9, 2012

Goodwill Brings New Life to Building and Expanded Opportunities for Central Illinois Veterans and Youth


A “repurposed” headquarters building on War Memorial Drive in Peoria will enable Goodwill of Central Illinois to expand its services to veterans, youth and others in need across a 21-county territory.
Together with U.S. Representative Aaron Schock, Peoria Mayor Jim Ardis and Illinois Central College President John Erwin, Goodwill President and CEO Patty Fuchs revealed plans for the nonprofit organization’s reinvestment in its 61-year-old building at 2319 E. War Memorial Drive—which will go by the name Goodwill Commons.
“Our community has been so generous to Goodwill over the years with donations of clothing and wares—donations that enable us to offer our services to those in need at no cost,” Fuchs said. “This expansion is our way of paying back the community, because it will allow us to reach even more individuals and families who are working to better their lives. Goodwill Commons will belong to the people of Central Illinois because it was built by the people of Central Illinois.”
Originally built in 1951 as a Cat dealership, the facility has served as a Goodwill retail store, warehouse, training center and administrative headquarters since 1990. Warehouse operations moved to East Peoria in 2009, and the retail store relocated to 3905 N. University in Peoria earlier this year, enabling Goodwill to repurpose the building into a more functional workspace for both employees and program participants. More than half of the renovated space will be dedicated to expanded programming, with a specific focus on increasing services to veterans and youth.
“Goodwill is a tremendous resource for the brave men and women who have served our country,” Schock said. “The organization already provides skills training and job placement assistance, and this expansion will allow more local veterans to take advantage of these much-needed services as they seek quality employment.”
Central Illinois young people will also benefit from the expansion, which will put more emphasis on Goodwill’s GoodGuides youth mentoring program, which matches at-risk teens with adult mentors, as well as a new partnership with Illinois Central College to help prepare high school graduates for success in community college.
“Many young people need additional support making the transition from high school to college,” Erwin said. “Working with Goodwill, we can help students catch up on the basic reading, writing, math and computer skills they need to succeed in our classrooms.”
Goodwill Commons will feature multiple computer and job training classrooms of various sizes that can be configured for different uses. When not in use by Goodwill program participants, these spaces will be available to the community for meetings and events.
“That’s what community is all about,” Ardis said. “Goodwill is not only expanding the services that so many in Central Illinois rely on, but also inviting the community to share in this new facility.”
Renovation of the building will begin in mid-August, with completion expected in six to eight months.
Goodwill Industries of Central Illinois is a nonprofit organization that provides job training, career and vocational services to veterans, individuals and families who are working to better their lives. Revenues from the sale of donated or recycled items allow Goodwill to provide all services free of charge. For more information, visit www.goodwillpeo.org or call (309) 682-1113.

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