Tacoma Goodwill named top employer

Tacoma Goodwill Industries, whose operations include a thrift store in Federal Way, has been named WashingtonŽ’s 2002 Large Private Non-Profit Employer of the Year by the GovernorŽ’s Committee on Disability Issues and Employment.

Nominated by the state Department of Services for the Blind, the annual award honors employers who have been leaders in the recruitment, hiring, integration and advancement of employees with disabilities.

Ž“We work tirelessly to educate, train and place disabled individuals into competitive jobs in the 14 counties we serve,Ž” said Terry Hayes, chief executive officer of Tacoma Goodwill Industries. Ž“To win this award is a real honor for this organization.Ž”

Tacoma Goodwill has programs in vocational assessment, job readiness, supported employment, WorkFirst (community jobs), computer training, custodial training and at-risk youth. Goodwill also has a community placement program, employing full-time job developers for the disabled. Also, of the 875 employees that work for Tacoma Goodwill, approximately half have either a disability or some other disadvantage thatŽ’s a barrier to employment.

As part of its job training, Tacoma Goodwill provides distance learning and support services for people with disabilities in the fields of medical billing and medical transcription.

Ž“Our vocational services staff are true champions of the disabled and deserve to be recognized, but our real rewards come through the success of those we serve,Ž” Hayes said.

Hayes said Tacoma Goodwill expects to provide vocational services to 1,500 people this year who have disabilities or other special needs.

Education, job training and job development services are funded through financial gifts, grants, fees and revenue generated by 17 thrift stores in western and central Washington.

Meanwhile, Tacoma Goodwill is part of a program involving Clover Park Technical College thatŽ’s expected to provide new employment opportunities in the healthcare industry for disabled persons.

The program, called Online and Upward, provides distance learning and support services for people with disabilities in the fields of medical billing and medical transcription.

A three-year federal grant for $220,927 has been awarded to Tacoma Goodwill and its project partners ŽÐŽÐ Goodwill of the Inland Northwest (Spokane), Goodwill of the Columbia (Tri-Cities) and Clover Park Technical, which is based in Lakewood. The grant will fund about 78 percent of the project in its first year, with continued funding available for the following two years. The remainder will be financed by non-government sources.

About 450,000 Washingtonians aged 16 to 64 years old have work-limiting disabilities; only 38 percent of people with disabilities have full or part-time jobs. Healthcare is the strongest and fastest-growing occupation in Washington, with many entry-level positions available, officials said.

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