In October 2009, more than 10 percent of the general U.S. workforce was unemployed—marking the highest rate we had seen in 26 years. While the national unemployment rate is now less than 8 percent, there is still ample room for improvement. Fewer than 22 percent of persons with disabilities are in the workforce. The jobless rate for veterans who served since September 2001 was more than 12 percent last year. And youth unemployment remains at an alarming 50 percent.
Rotary International and Goodwill Industries International — a 110-year-old social enterprise focused on putting people back to work — have long partnered to help create and expand job training and employment opportunities for people who have trouble finding jobs.
October is Rotary’s Vocational Service Month, dedicated to giving back to the community through vocational service projects. So why not consider using these last few days of the month to kick start a local Rotary-Goodwill project? It can all start with a simple phone call or email to one of our 165 independent, community-based Goodwills in the United States and Canada.
Here are some great examples to help you get started:
- In Gross Pointe Farms, Michigan, local Rotarians supervised the transfer of 192 boxes containing 8,640 books to the local Goodwill agency as part of the Rotary Literacy initiative.
- In Nebraska, the Omaha West Rotary Club worked with Goodwill of Omaha to facilitate enough computer donations to fill 12 trailers. These computers were then processed for resale or recycling—again to help support Goodwill’s job training programs.
- In Ontario, Canada, the Rotary Club of Hamilton A.M. generously donated a 12-passenger van to transport participants to and from Goodwill Works, a career and training program.
- The Rotary Club of Maple Shade, New Jersey, granted $1,000 to Goodwill Industries of Southern New Jersey to fund its Job Club. These two groups formed a partnership last year for which Rotarians have committed to collect donations, increase awareness about Goodwill’s mission, hire graduates of the training programs and make financial contributions.
Rotary Clubs and Goodwill agencies have also teamed up to hold career days, find local employment opportunities for persons with disabilities and establish mentoring networks.
By sharing our resources we can help people find dignity through the power of work, so they can support their families and build stronger communities, one person and one job at a time. Imagine what we can do together!
What are you doing in honor of Vocational Service Month? How do you plan to partner with your local Goodwill agency?