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“Our Working Future” featuring Ms. Anna Eleanor Roosevelt

Since the City Club program for Friday, January 22nd, dealt with Goodwill Industries we went to its website to get some information about it. A brief description of the organization is "a nonpartisan nonprofit organization...We advocate for public policies that provide job training, programs and employment placement services and other community-based programs, employment placement services and other community-based programs for people having a hard time finding employment." At the section of the website regarding Goodwill's history, we learned that it was founded in 1902 in Boston by Rev. Edgar J. Helms, a Methodist Minister. He collected "used household goods and clothingIMG_7264 in wealthier areas of the city, then trained and hired those who were poor to mend and repair the used goods. The goods were then resold or given to the people who repaired them. The system worked and the Goodwill philosophy of "a hand up, not a hand out" was born. Rev. Helms described Goodwill as "an industrial program as well as a social service enterprise...a provider of employment, training and rehabilitation for people of limited employability, and a source of temporary assistance for individuals whose resources were depleted." Then we drove over to the City Club to attend the program which was titled "Our Working Future" which featured Ms. Anna Eleanor Roosevelt, President and CEO of Goodwill Industries of Northern New England." Ms. Roosevelt is also a grandchild of the late President Franklin D. Roosevelt and First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt.

Prior to the start of the program, we talked to Ms. Barbara Sarkissian of the KeyBank Foundation (which sponsored the program along with Goodwill Industries of Greater Cleveland and East Central Ohio, Inc. and Metropolitan at the 9) who met with Ms. Roosevelt the day before and both liked and admired her a lot. She described Ms. Roosevelt as "very down toearth" and "unpretentious."

In fact, before the program started Ms. Margot Copeland, Chairperson and Chief Executive of the KeyBank Foundation presented Ms. Roosevelt with an award for her outstanding work as a humanitarian.

At lunch we shared a table with people from Goodwill Industries of Lorain County who were Mr. Steve Greenwell, President and CEO; Ms. Christine Tomaszewski, Executive Assistant; Mr. Christopher Mosely, Business Services Director; Mr. Craig Grugel, Retail Manager; and Mr. James L. Miller, Attorney At Law who also the Board President.

Later, we were joined by Mr. Eric Schwarz, President and CEO of Goodwill Industries Serving Northeast IMG_7259Ohio and Northwest Pennsylvania. Mr. Schwarz remembered meeting us at the opening of the Goodwill Drop-Off Center in North Perry. He liked receiving an invitation to the holiday party of Margaret W. Wong and Associates and loved reading the letters within but, unfortunately, he had a prior commitment and was unable to attend.

During lunch, we spoke to Mr. Miller and Mr. Moseley about the work of KeyBank in Lorain County. When we told Mr. Moseley that we worked for a immigration law office he told us that he has been working with a contract employee for a number of years who immigrated to the United States from Morocco. We learned that Goodwill Industries works closely with the Hispanic community in Lorain and plans even more outreach in the future.

In the course of her presentation, Ms. Roosevelt spoke of the importance of full employment for individuals and for the community as a whole. She viewed a job "as a means to dignity and there is dignity to all work." Surprisingly, she said that an early inspiration to her was "Babar the Elephant King" because he made sure all around him had a job to do and he respected all who worked because even those who performed nominal tasks were an integral part of the society that he was trying to build.

Ms. Roosevelt said that for our communities to thrive, we need diversity of talent and to know how to create value from our diversity.  To continue, we must try to get past locking ourselves into doing a job a IMG_7261particular way but see if it is possible to get the work done by hiring a person who might have been previously overlooked.

Along these lines, we asked Ms. Roosevelt during the Q and A if Goodwill Industries was reaching out to immigrants and refugees. Ms. Roosevelt answered by saying that in Northern New England there is a sizable immigrant population (though she admitted that it was a bit odd to resettle a person from Africa in New England) and Goodwill Industries assists them with ESL issues and helps them obtain the necessary certifications. She firmly believed that it is worth the time and the effort to do this because they bring to the region enormous skills and talents.

 

 

Written by:

Michael Patterson

Community Liaison,

Margaret W. Wong & Assoc. Co., LLC.

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