Goodwill employee

Lucy Holandez, center, is surrounded by fellow Goodwill SOLAC employees after receiving a $2,000 check from CEO Janet McCarthy, far right.

Honesty pays. Just ask Lucy Holandez.

Holandez works for Goodwill SOLAC (Serving the people of Southern Los Angeles County) — she's been with the nonprofit for more than a decade. One of her responsibilities is to sort donations at the central processing center before they go to the floor of one of Goodwill's stores.

Last February, while sorting through clothes, Holandez came upon a stack of $100 bills — 40 of them, to be exact. According to Janet McCarthy, Goodwill SOLAC's CEO, Holandez immediately took the money to her supervisor and together they took it to the accounting department at headquarters.

That's the proper procedure, according to Goodwill's operating policies. Anything donated or found on Goodwill premises is Goodwill's property, and every effort is made to return mistakenly donated money or valuables to the donor.

But after more than 30 days, attempts to find the owner of the $4,000 failed, and no one had come forward to claim it. So McCarthy called a meeting with the central processing crew and several department managers.

"This morning, Lucy’s teammates, along with Donna Snell, Lisa Grassi, Gina Johnson celebrated the honesty and integrity of Ms. Lucy," McCarthy wrote in an email to her board members, "with a thank you check in the amount of $2,000, or 50% of the amount of money she turned in back on Feb. 11."

There is no set policy for rewarding employees who turn found items in. But in this case, McCarthy said, the reward made sense.

"When I tried to hand her the check, she took two steps back and said, ‘No, no.' She was pretty much speechless," McCarthy said.

Holandez first went to work with Goodwill SOLAC in 1992 or 1993, took a break, then came back to Goodwill in 2010. When McCarthy asked why she came back, Holandez said, "Goodwill is my family. Why work anywhere else?"

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Harry has been executive editor of Gazette Newspapers for more than 26 years. He has been in the newspaper business for more than 35 years, with experience on both weekly and metropolitan daily papers in Colorado and California.

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