Temperatures in the low 30s didn’t slow down the crowd for the grand opening of Goodwill Industries of Arkansas at Ozark Crossing Thursday morning, March 8.
Leisa Wamsley, vice president of donated goods with Goodwill, acted as the company cheerleader and led the crowd in the “G-O-O-D-W-I-L-L, donate, shop, change lives” cheer.
The spacious shopping area is efficiently organized and has the appearance of a trendy retail shop.
Brian Marsh, CEO and president, said, “Our mission is to change lives.”
He went on to explain that Goodwill Industries organized and operates a $1.3 million high school for adults in the Little Rock area. The Little Rock facility is number 18 for the nation and has already graduated 3,000 adults.
“More than 325,000 adults in Arkansas over the age of 25 do not have a high school diploma,” Marsh said. “We are working with our funds plus public and private grants to operate the high school for adults.
“This helps everyone. We have learned that 50 percent of drop outs come from families where the parents dropped out of school. This is changing the next generation of potential drop outs when they see how hard their parents are working for that diploma. And our statistics show they make an average of $9,000 more a year with that diploma.”
Goodwill Industries of Arkansas have several programs that will benefit the community of Harrison.
They have a programs for assessing, training and finding jobs for adults with disabilities, recently incarcerated, and young adults with autism spectrum disorder.
They also put books into the hands of preschool children.
Marsh said, “We have found that two-thirds of students in poverty do not have any books in their homes. Students learn to read until the third grade and then they read to learn. It’s critical they learn to read well before the third grade, or they get behind.”
Goodwill Industries of Arkansas also works with Baptist Health. “There are 18,000 open positions in environmental services around the state. Our students train in a hospital room environment and upon completion some are hired by Baptist Health, or we assist them in finding other job openings,” Marsh said.
Marsh also explained they will work with local leaders and industry to see what is needed for this area. The Little Rock area has partnered with industry to offer CDL training, construction as well as auto repair training.
They operate 30 retail stores in the state and offer online shopping.
“We have a wide selection and the deals are amazing,” Marsh said. “‘Donate, Shop and Change a Life.’ That’s our motto and we are excited to be in this area to partner with this community.”
Harrison Mayor Dan Sherrell said, “We are proud to have you in Harrison and excited to see you open. I didn’t realize all the educational opportunities you offer, so we appreciate you being here.”
Patty Methvin, Harrison Regional Chamber of Commerce president, said, “It’s so cold, so I’ll be short. I agree with everything the mayor said, and we are excited to have you here.”
Store manager Melinda Shannon said, “This is a big day for the Goodwill family. We are excited to be here and the team has worked very hard to open. When the vision is the mission lives are changed.”
The new store is located at 814 Hwy. 62/65 North, Suite 9 at Ozark Crossing. The 16,007 square-foot store, donation center and career services center will be Goodwill’s 44th location in Arkansas.
Last year Goodwill placed 6,173 Arkansans into competitive employment.
Revenue generated from the sale of donated goods provides 96 percent of Goodwill’s total budget.
Operating hours are Monday-Saturday 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. and Sunday 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.