Goodwill Rotary Forge Plan To Help Disabled

June 4, 2002
| By Katy Rent |
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GRAND RAPIDS — To jumpstart the alliance between the Grand Rapids Rotary and Goodwill Industries of Greater Grand Rapids, the two organizations met recently in hopes of learning what each can do to assist the disabled.

More than 50 members of the Rotary in Grand Rapids attended a luncheon at Goodwill’s main facility in Grandville where they met with Goodwill’s president, learned about what Goodwill does in the community and received a tour of the warehouse where donations were sorted out.

The alliance was forged to help 500,000 people with disabilities enter the workforce by the end of 2002. The project links 29,000 Rotary clubs, including the Grand Rapids Rotary, with employment opportunities for people with disabilities and breaks down barriers to their workplace success.

Currently, there are 610 million people with disabilities around the world. More than half of them are of working age, but are unemployed. In the United States, 44 percent of people with disabilities who are able to work are unemployed.

“At the meeting, we signed a memorandum of understanding between the two groups, agreeing to work together to find more opportunities for people with disabilities who are trying to get jobs,” said Denny Gillem, business development manager for Goodwill Industries of Greater Grand Rapids.

Goodwill Industries of Greater Grand Rapids and the Grand Rapids Rotary will be assessing the workforce needs in this community and educating businesses about hiring people with disabilities. In addition, Rotary members who make personnel decisions within their own companies are encouraged to consider hiring people with disabilities.

“Our alliance with the Grand Rapids Rotary, and the alliance of our organizations at a national level, will help us ensure that thousands of people get jobs consistent with their interests and abilities,” said Tina Hartley, president of Goodwill Industries of Greater Grand Rapids. “We salute the Rotary for their initiative in making the alliance happen here in Grand Rapids, and ultimately helping the members of our community embark on new careers.”

“I am excited about our partnership with Goodwill Industries and will fully support this endeavor,” added Chuck Caldwell, president of the Grand Rapids Rotary. “We look forward to working together to provide employment opportunities to the people in our community.”

Gillem noted that both groups have presented the project to local businesses in hopes of receiving support in the mission.

“There are lots of ways we might work together, but as of now there is nothing specific worked out.”           

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