Grant Fuels Muskegon Goodwills Renovation Campaign
MUSKEGON — Backers of a campaign to renovate Goodwill Industries of West Michigan Inc’s. Muskegon headquarters and job-training center say a $150,000 grant from a prestigious foundation provides much more than a financial boost to their effort.
The grant from Detroit area-based The Kresge Foundation provides the $1.5 million capital campaign an outside affirmation of the project’s merits that Goodwill Industries hopes will lead to further gifts.
“That we have gotten their nod of support and approval is huge. This is really significant for Muskegon,” Goodwill Industries of West Michigan President Rich Carlson said. “They don’t put their dollars out there not to be successful. This is like the ‘Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval.’”
The Kresge Foundation grant, which is contingent on Goodwill Industries’ raising the remainder of its goal, is the latest major gift to a fund-raising campaign that began in November. Goodwill Industries of West Michigan wants to raise $1.5 million and match it with $1.5 million of its own money, to pay for renovations at its Apple Avenue headquarters.
Carlson hopes to see the work begin by mid-year, even as the fund-raising campaign continues, and wrap up by the end of 2002.
The Muskegon-based non-profit organization is one of 10 Goodwill Industries agencies in Michigan, and 180 nationwide, that provide job training and employment in light industrial settings for persons with developmental and physical disabilities, as well as for people transitioning from welfare to work.
The 52-year-old agency, covering an area that stretches along the Lake Michigan shoreline from Holland to Manistee, supports its programs through sales of donated used clothing and other merchandise at its eight retail stores. The ongoing capital campaign is the first time in 30 years that Goodwill Industries of West Michigan has solicited outside financial support, Carlson said.
A significant increase in the number of people served annually in recent years — from about 1,100 in 1995 to 4,193 in 2000 — generated a need for the organization to embark on a major renovation of its aging and cramped quarters.
A key component of the renovation is transforming 6,500 square feet of space that became available when a Goodwill Industries retail store was moved to Sherman Avenue. The plan is to use the space for a classroom, senior citizen activity center and a computer learning center, as well as administrative offices.
The renovation work also will involve upgrades to retail and industrial production areas at the facility.
With the renovation, Goodwill plans to extend the hours of its computer learning center into the evening and on weekends and work with neighborhood associations to open the facility for families to use to improve their computer skills, Carlson said.
The organization as of late January has raised about $800,000 of its goal for the campaign, which kicked off Nov. 16 with the donation of several lead gifts that included $100,000 from The Community Foundation of Muskegon County.
While they would have preferred to have been farther along in the campaign at this point, organizers are pleased with the progress they’ve made so far, given the state of the economy.
“Hopefully the turnaround in the economy will get us there,” said Ed Hunt, a retired banker who’s co-chairing the capital campaign.
The fact that Goodwill Industries of West Michigan has raised as much as it has in an economic recession speaks well of how people and businesses view the organization, Carlson said. He believes the organization’s mission of helping people secure gainful employment is “extremely engaging” and plays well with potential donors.
“It’s about the power of work and it’s about the difference in people’s lives,” Carlson said. “That’s real easy for corporations and philanthropists to get their hands around.”
In addition to the $800,000 in cash contributions, Goodwill Industries of West Michigan has received in-kind pledges from several businesses promising to donate labor or perform work on the renovation at discounted costs. Two corporations recently inquired about sub-contracting work out to the agency as a way to provide support.
The latter is an example of the opportunities that have come about from the heightened awareness the capital campaign has generated, Carlson said.
“It’s a real opportunity to maintain and develop friendships in the community,” he said. “When you raise awareness, when you develop friendships during the course of the campaign, other opportunities become available.”