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Goodwill opens career center in local store
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Lori Hairston (left, pointing at monitor), the new career connection coordinator at Goodwill’s Commonwealth Boulevard location, helps Rosa Niblett (right) fine-tune her résumé on one of the Career Connection Center’s computer stations. The computer stations are available to the public during business hours. (Bulletin photo by Harrison Hamlet)
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Friday, April 4, 2014

By HARRISON HAMLET - Special to the Bulletin

Local job-seekers have a new resource to aid in their search for work.

Goodwill Industries of the Valleys on Wednesday opened a Career Connection Center inside the Goodwill store at 284 Commonwealth Blvd. in Martinsville.

The center, which is funded solely through the sale of donated items at Goodwill stores, aims to work with local and state resources to help find employment for area residents, according to Goodwill Industries of the Valleys Senior Regional Director of Workforce Development Mary Ann Gilmer.

“We are here to provide lengthier one-on-one help for people seeking employment. What we do is very much up to the individual,” said Gilmer. “We are encouraging employers to use this as a recruiting center. They are welcome to hold interviews here, and we plan on holding some mini-job fairs here as well. We are looking to help anyone seeking employment, anyone who needs help with online applications, their résumé, interviewing tips, job matching or a sense of availability of a position in the area; not to mention the computer stations that are available to the public here.”

The services are funded by Goodwill, not fees to the public.

Gilmer and Goodwill Industries of the Valleys’ Senior Vice President of Workforce Development Linda Matthews hope they will see the success in the new location that they have at Career Connection Centers in Staunton and Madison Heights.

“From July to September, we helped around 1,200 people with résumés, online applications and interviews and placed at least 90 of those individuals into positions” through the Staunton and Madison Heights centers, Matthews said.

She added that the one-on-one environment is crucial to the centers’ success because it allows for more time-consuming and intensive help than larger employment centers are able to offer.

“We help people into any jobs available in the area. Obviously there are some areas of high demand, like health care, but really this process depends on the individual,” Gilmer added.

Lori Hairston recently was brought in to manage the center full-time as the career connection coordinator for the Martinsville location, according to Gilmer. Hairston, who is from the area, was chosen in part because of her local knowledge and people skills, according to Matthews.

Hairston will work with local employers and their human resources departments on behalf of Goodwill with the goal of establishing working relationships with local employers, according to Gilmer. Hairston also will use traditional means of locating jobs for potential employees such as classified ads, online applications and job fairs.

Although the center opened only Wednesday, Hairston already was busy helping job-seeker Rosa Niblett fine tune her résumé that morning. Hairston said she hopes to see the center help as many area residents as possible.

“We get some regulars (at other centers) who come in every day to do their daily job search. Other times, people are looking for more intense one-on-one help,” Gilmer said. “There is no set path for people that come here (seeking help). Their path is very much individualized based on what skills they have. Our employees are skilled in individualized résumé and workforce development.”

“We are happy to help the unemployed or those seeking a better position,” added Matthews. “This is a great opportunity to show the public how their dollars that they spend at or donate to our stores are really going back into the community. We feel a connection to Goodwill’s mission.”


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