Each year, Goodwill of Central & Southern Indiana selects a Retail Site of the Year to honor the accomplishments of a location that did an exemplary job meeting production goals as well as providing employment opportunities to people with barriers like a disability, criminal history or lack of a high school diploma. This year, we’re honoring the team at our Richmond retail store. With more than 70 sites in central and southern Indiana, it’s quite an accomplishment to receive this award.
There are 460,000 working-age Hoosiers who lack a high school diploma. Prior to The Excel Center, Goodwill’s free high school for adults, there were few options for people like Jacob Barrett who wanted to earn one.
When Jesse Hendrickson first walked into Goodwill for his court-ordered community service in 2016, he was homeless and recovering from a decade-long drug addiction that had isolated him from his family.
Goodwill’s Senior Community Service Employment Program (SCSEP) is a community service and work-based job training program for adults who are age 55 and older. In January 2020, Goodwill of Central and Southern Indiana was serving over 250 SCSEP participants who were earning money while learning new skills, mastering job search techniques and building work experience to obtain employment, all with the support of a SCSEP Guide.
Martha Bess has always had a love of learning, but personal barriers prevented her from finishing high school as a teenager. She married at 14 years old and started her own family, which grew to include six children. Over 20 years later, she began working with her church’s homeschool co-op, where her children attended, and soon discovered her own love of teaching. To advance her career and to continue to set a good example for her children, she knew she would need a high school diploma.
As a sophomore at St. Joseph’s College in Rensselaer, Leonard Lofton was a successful student with plans to be a history teacher.
Rachel Hendrickson knew the direction she wanted to take her life, but she needed help crafting a plan. After six years employed as a retail associate at Goodwill, she began working with a career and life coach at Goodwill — also known as a Guide. Together, they charted a path to accomplishing her goals of getting a driver’s license, owning a car and being promoted to Team Leader.
Seven years ago, Karen Narvaez arrived in the United States from Nicaragua with little knowledge of the English language, but with a strong thirst for knowledge and a drive to succeed. After seeking out basic English courses, she was referred to The Excel Center by a friend in 2015. Unsure at the time of her ultimate career and education goals, Karen enrolled at The Excel Center part-time, with the idea that earning her diploma would help improve her fluency in English. However, Karen’s motivation soon began to change. Despite a transportation barrier, she set — and accomplished — her goal of attending school every day, and even completed her courses at the top of her class in Anderson.
Since she was young, Lindsey Lemen wanted to pursue her college education. Unable to attend college after graduating from high school, she put her dream on hold. Lindsey faced barriers after graduating that made it hard for her to maintain full-time employment. These barriers were removed after she started working at the Goodwill store in Shelbyville, Indiana.