050119_MNS_Goodwill_001 Hala Moddelmog Keith Parker Keisha Lance Bottoms Raphael Bostic Rose Scott

Panelist Hala Moddelmog, center, president and CEO of the Metro Atlanta Chamber, speaks as, from left, fellow panelists Keith Parker, president and CEO of Goodwill Industries of North Georgia; Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms and Raphael Bostic, president and CEO of the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta; and WABE journalist Rose Scott, the moderator, listen in during Goodwill’s Prosperity for All: Closing Atlanta’ Wealth Gap conference March 28 at the Commerce Club in downtown Atlanta.

The late George S. Patton had a unique perspective on individuals who are successful in finding worthwhile employment when they are out of a job.

“Success is how high you bounce after hitting rock bottom,” he said.

According to Elaine Armstrong, vice president of marketing for Goodwill Industries of North Georgia, a large number of the job seekers that enter their doors seeking either employment or training to either find a job or get a better job have hit rock bottom. That’s the reason Goodwill has as its mission, which is readily displayed in all of its stores, of “putting people to work.”

According to Goodwill spokeswoman Summer Dunham, the company is doing its part from an employment standpoint in the north Georgia area. It has 62 stores in a 45-county region, including its recently opened store on Old National Highway in College Park, which funds their employment activities.

Armstrong said each year Goodwill sets a goal of how many people it wants to put to work and, in 2019, that goal is 24,500.

“We will serve 50,000 job seekers in the north Georgia area in our career training centers, where they will receive extensive training for jobs in industry or become acclimated to going back to work, even after not having a job for a long time,” she said.

March 28, Goodwill Industries hosted its Prosperity for All: Closing Atlanta’ Wealth Gap conference at the Commerce Club in downtown Atlanta, where numerous government and business leaders spoke on the income equality in Atlanta and surrounding communities.

Armstrong said it was well attended with 175 in the audience and more than 1,000 watching a live streaming of the event.

Among those joining Keith Parker, president and CEO of Goodwill Industries of North Georgia, to speak on income inequality in the city included Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms; Hala Moddelmog, president and CEO of the Metro Atlanta Chamber; and Raphael Bostic, president and CEO of the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta.

Parker said Goodwill understands the obstacles that many metro Atlantans face, and how those obstacles are increasingly intertwined with someone’s ability to find what he termed as sustainable employment.

“Our Prosperity for All panel had a thoughtful and rich conversation about how we can collectively create solutions for the income equality challenges we are seeing in metro Atlanta,” he said. “I very much look forward to keeping the conversation going.”

According to Armstrong, Goodwill’s north Georgia stores, which sell clothing and other merchandise to help fund its career centers and other employment opportunities, are doing well.

“Our biggest selling item is, by far, is our line of donated clothing, which fills up most of the square footage of our stores,” she said. “Although we have new customers coming in each day, it is our return customers who, collectively, purchase our items.”

She said Goodwill has numerous customers who come in daily to view the merchandise. Its stores, she added, have donations that come in each day, “and these customers return to see any new treasurers we may have gotten in.”

Durham said Goodwill’s north Georgia employee training program is one of the largest workforce development agencies in the Southeast, “and we are on track to meet our goal to place 24,500 people into jobs this year.”

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