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Goodwill serves vets and opens As-Is Outlet

Beginning Nov. 1, Goodwill Industries of the Inland Northwest begins two efforts.

First, it will serve Spokane County’s homeless veterans in a program to help Veterans find employment and a stable setting for themselves and their families.

Second, Goodwill will have the grand opening of its new As-Is Outlet Store, at 1406 E. Front St. The venture will help increase re-use, reduce waste in local landfills and increase funding for Goodwill’s employment programs in Eastern Washington and North Idaho.

Michele Harris, director of Workforce and Family Services for Goodwill, announced that the Veterans Administration Supportive Services for Families program has awarded Goodwill $1.3 million as one of 319 community agencies to receive a portion of the $300 million across the United States, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands.

“Homelessness is a major obstacle for veterans,” she explained. “The grant will help us bridge that gap for homeless and at-risk veterans and their families.”

Volunteers of America and Transitions will partner with Goodwill to provide housing and services to veterans.

The funds arrive as the coldest weather begins in the region. Spokane County Veteran Services reports that there were 1,400 unduplicated service requests by homeless veterans in Spokane County in the year 2012, she said. 

Leaders and partners supporting Goodwill’s request include Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, Senator Patty Murray, the Spokane Housing Authority, Spokane Housing Ventures, Salvation Army and Family Promise.

Heather Alexander, development director at Goodwill, said the As-Is Outlet Store will help deal with waste.

“Each year Americans throw away 250 million tons of waste, including 13 million tons of clothing, shoes and textiles—70 pounds per person,” she said.  “Goodwill wants to keep 85 percent of those out of landfills, as well as household items, furniture, electronics, craft supplies, sporting equipment and other items.”

Goodwill also expects the outlet to help fund its employment programs in the region.

In 2012, Goodwill received 20 million pounds of donations, of which it salvaged or sold 14 million pounds at its 11 area stores, and through and ebay site.  Proceeds also support its social services to help men and women regain their independence through work.  About 5 million pounds went to the landfill.

Goodwill bought and remodeled a 64,000-square-foot former warehouse for the As-Is Outlet Store and salvage operations.

Items not sold in Goodwill stores or online will go to the Outlet Store, where they will be displayed on rolling tables and sold in bulk. Items not sold there will be sold to salvage vendors.

Clark Brekke, president and CEO of Goodwill Industries of the Inland Northwest, said the initial goal is to reduce refuse to less than 10 percent of donations, compared with 27 percent now.

The ultimate goal is to move to a zero-waste process, eliminating the volume and toxicity of waste and materials by recovering resources, not burning or burying them,” he said.

Of every dollar from sales, 85 cents fund Goodwill’s job training, employment placement and other programs for people who face employment challenges.

For information, call 444-4383.

Copyright © November 2013 - The Fig Tree