SAN ANTONIO – Goodwill San Antonio has a mission to serve people who face difficult circumstances but have the courage and commitment to better themselves.
The organization here in San Antonio has centered around fighting poverty and creating opportunity but, like a lot of organizations in the last 15 months, it’s not been easy.
Goodwill San Antonio CEO Carlos Contreras joined Leading SA Sunday to discuss the challenges the company has faced and how training has changed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“You know, like many businesses in our community, last year was a really difficult year for operations. We were shut down for about six weeks. Hopefully we’re able to pay all our employees and keep them, most importantly, on health benefits. 2021 actually has been very good. We continue to receive steady donations. We continue to have the loyalty of our customers frequenting our stores. So I would say that our need and our mission remains the same that they have for the last 76 years,” Contreras said.
Goodwill San Antonio is a Section 501(c)(3) nonprofit social enterprise that has been helping the community since 1945.
“Our mission is to help change lives through the power of work, and we do that through training, job training and placement and employment, that’s either within our stores or externally into the community. We do skills training at our academies and we do job placement at our career centers,” Contreras said.
Over the course of the pandemic, those job skills have changed, and so has the training.
“The need is shifted primarily in relation to the types of skills that are needed for employment today. You know, there’s always been a gap between our community, between the available jobs and the skills that are needed for those jobs, as well as the skills that people have to be able to fill those jobs. The pandemic is made that more exacerbated. There’s quite a difference between the types of people who are looking for work today in terms of their skills and the jobs that are available,” Contreras said.
Goodwill said they had to adapt to these changes to better serve their employees.
“And so our challenge, as a Goodwill, is to work with employers to identify those skills and make sure we’re providing the training that is necessary for them. And again, none of that’s possible without donations because we offer that training in a place free of service to San Antonio residents,” Contreras said.
The organization is still in need of more donations, and it doesn’t have to be just clothing, according to Contreras.
“We continue to need clothing and household goods. We responsibly sell those and use the funding to help fulfill our mission. But we can also take computer equipment and electronic equipment. Our employees are trained on how to responsibly wipe those clean and refurbish them,” Contreras said.
Goodwill was even able to take those refurbished items and give them a new purpose.
“During the pandemic, thanks to the generosity of donors and businesses, we were able to actually refurbish computer equipment and provide those to residents of the housing authority because they needed to work remotely and they needed to attend school remotely. So we were able to fill that because the donations we receive,” Contreras said.
You can watch the full Leading SA interview with Contreras in the video player above.