Over the next 12 months, 150 low income, underrepresented youth will receive valuable training from Goodwill Serving the People of Southern Los Angeles County (Goodwill SOLAC) thanks to a $250,000 grant from the Citi Foundation 2018 Youth Workforce Fund. One of only 15 programs chosen in the nation, Goodwill SOLAC will use this grant to promote career readiness and create employment opportunities.
Its thrift stores are well known, but Goodwill provides much more than retail services. Since its inception in 1902, the organization has sought to help people work. In fact, founder Edgar J. Helms described Goodwill as “a provider of employment, training, and rehabilitation.” In 2017, Goodwill Industries helped 288,000 people nationwide prepare for careers.
In 2006, Goodwill SOLAC launched its Healthcare Academy in Long Beach. Currently, this program offers classroom instruction and clinical training for students to become Certified Nurse Assistants (CNA). Soon, Goodwill SOLAC will partner with a local hospital to also offer training for acute care nursing assistants and licensed vocational nurses (LVN).
Because Goodwill SOLAC CNA training is state certified, articulated units may be earned toward LVN/RN programs at Long Beach City College (LBCC) and California State University, Long Beach (CSULB). LBUSD student Estefany Villalta joined the healthcare program in 2015 and graduated in 2016. Now, she is studying to become an LVN at LBCC. Estefany has already fulfilled a number of prerequisite courses for the registered nurse (RN) bridge program; her ultimate plan is to become an RN.
For the past decade, Goodwill SOLAC has also offered a second career track: Loss Prevention Training. This two-part program gives students the skills they need for employment in the loss prevention and security sectors. Over the course of five weeks, students learn how to guard buildings, staff sporting events, and prevent the loss of merchandise at stores as they work to earn their California State Guard Card.
Sergio Flores completed the program when he was 19 years old and was hired by B.M.W. Nationwide Security. At 20, he is now a supervisor for the company.
Anthony Ford, job developer for the Loss Prevention/Security and CNA programs at Goodwill SOLAC, expressed pride in Sergio’s success. He explained that the Goodwill system is unique because it includes lessons in soft skills as well as regular coursework.
“In addition to giving them security training, we teach them how to write resumes and handle interviews,” Ford said. “They learn the importance of shaking hands and making eye contact.”
Goodwill SOLAC President and CEO Janet McCarthy concurred.
“We do more than just educate them,” she said. “We make sure we are working to fill all of the employers’ needs. We don’t just want our students to get jobs, we want them to get promoted.”
McCarthy explained that Goodwill has a five-year follow along support system designed to prepare students and stick with them as they transition into employment. Teachers and mentors coach students to achieve true self-sufficiency rather than cycling back into patterns of dependency.
“We spend a lot of time on job retention skills and time and money management,” Angela Bonilla, CNA career coach at Goodwill SOLAC, said. “We are passionate about teaching the fundamentals and we love what we do.”
“This grant is an acknowledgement of the good work that is quietly happening here,” McCarthy said. “We are thrilled that these funds will allow us to help more students like Estefany and Sergio.”