Goodwill in need of financial rescue

January 21, 2009 4:55:25 PM PST
The nation's economic woes are now pushing one of the Bay Area's oldest and most established charities to the brink of financial disaster. Goodwill Industries is facing a shortfall in the millions and is now pleading for your help.

"We run a very lean operation here at Goodwill," said James David, Goodwill spokesperson.

And it's become even leaner for the Goodwill Industries of San Francisco, San Mateo and Marin counties; material donations are still coming in, but the money is not.

"It's a combination of things: the softening of the real estate market, the commodities market, as well as the waning support of institutional funders," said David.

Goodwill spokesperson James David says these economic factors have driven the nonprofit to slice $2 million from its budget, to cope with a forecasted $3 million shortfall for the upcoming fiscal year. At one point, Goodwill was even trying to sell its San Francisco headquarters, but real estate financing fell through. Now it's launching a six-month "Jobs for Our Community" campaign to help fill that $1 million gap in the budget.

"If you've ever donated a well-worn, well-loved sweater to us, if you've ever written us a check, if you're the person that we deal with at OfficeMax - then you're going to get a call, or an email, or a letter from us asking for you to make an investment into the community and to Goodwill," said David.

Goodwill's services go beyond the donation sites and retail stores -- it's also the largest welfare-to-work employer in San Francisco - trying to help those living on the economic edge.

"We have a truck-driving academy that gives people the training they need to have a sustainable job being a truck driver. We have a sales and service program that helps people launch their career in retail," said David.

The nearly 100-year-old organization helps job-train and place about 2,000 people a year and more are seeking help now with California's unemployment rate soaring above eight-percent. Its new job resource program called "One Stop at Goodwill" is budgeted to handle 200 visits a month, in December it saw more than 1,100 job seekers. Goodwill hopes to generate the same type of energetic good will that boosted President Obama's campaign.

"Goodwill, we know that this is a tough time for everybody, but if we could all reach into our pockets and give for such a great cause to elect Barack Obama, maybe we could do the same for people who are in need as well," said David.

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