Tacoma Goodwill online earns millions for job training program

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by ZAHID ARAB / KING 5 News

KING5.com

Posted on November 5, 2013 at 6:33 PM

Updated Tuesday, Nov 5 at 8:26 PM

What’s old at the Tacoma Goodwill is providing new opportunities for the unemployed. Its high-end online operation has earned $4.5 million this year.

ShopGoodwill.com is thriving thanks to generous donations from the community. Recent notable ones include a collection of African artifacts estimated to bring in up to $20,000.

“This particular collection has the potential to be the one of our largest sales yet,” said Dylan Lippert, E-Sales Manager.
 
A Salvador Dali etching sold for $21,000 last November.

“It’s a shock that donors can be so generous and shock that we can get this great value for the items,” said Lippert.

According to Lippert, some donors know the value of what they turn in, others don’t. Items valued above $25 that are authentic are photographed and listed on the website; everything else is sold in the organization’s thrift stores.

“It’s the first online auction run by a nonprofit in support of a mission,” he said.

One hundred percent of the money generated from sales goes towards the Goodwill’s nearly 30 job training programs. Nearly 16,000 people are enrolled this year.

“It’s given me a future,” said Ryan Viray, who enrolled in culinary training.

Viray, 22, is unemployed and is thankful for hands on training.

“It gives me experience, something to put on a resume instead of going to a job and saying I don’t have any experience,” said Viray.

“It’s a step in the right direction,” said Pernell Overton, who is training to be a carpenter.

Overton, 24, says the program has already made a dramatic difference in his life.

“It’s a second chance to show my family I can accomplish something,” he said.

Online sales have soared to nearly 500 items each day, allowing the Goodwill to hire more than 40 employees to work various jobs onsite. Many have barriers that would make it difficult for them to get employment.

“It helps people with disabilities, disadvantages, ensures that people have an opportunity to go to work,” said Lippert.

The opportunity comes at a time when Tacoma’s unemployment rate is 7.7 percent and more than 8,000 Joint Base Lewis McChord soldiers are transitioning out of service and looking for jobs in the region.

Vern Groscost, who is in his 40’s, works in the warehouse.

“I owe Goodwill everything. Higher self-esteem, more confidence, it builds you up,” said Groscost.

The organization is known for repurposing clothing, and now its lives.

“That impacts their life, it impacts my life and it impacts the community that we live in,” said Lippert.

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