When one hears the name ‘Goodwill,’ surely a myriad of things comes to mind. First off comes the thrift stores and priceless bargains found within where you can get a sweet deal on everything from clothing to household items to appliances. For nearly 60 years, Goodwill Industries of Middle Tennessee has provided job training and job placement free of charge to people with disabilities or other barriers to employment through the sale of donated items.
Most recently, a fortunate and deserving Goodwill store employee received a donated vehicle through the nonprofit’s Wheels-to-Work program. The Wheels-to-Work Program was established to help Goodwill employees and clients who need reliable transportation to get to work.
Goodwill President/CEO Matthew Bourlakas presented Christine McCrury, a lead sales associate at the Lexington Goodwill store, with the keys to a used but clean and reliable Audi A4 Quattro. The ceremony took place at the Goodwill Career Solutions Center at 937 Herman St. in Nashville.
In 1966, Christine, then age two and along with two of her siblings, were the victims in a child neglect case—so shocking it was chronicled by the Chicago media. The children’s biological parents, both alcoholics, were charged by authorities but fled Chicago while on bail. The children were sent to an orphanage. She and her sister were placed with loving foster parents who eventually adopted them. Christine grew up determined to not only avoid the mistakes of her biological parents but to also make a difference in the world.
After her adoptive family moved to Tennessee, she worked a number of jobs, including stints helping the homeless at drug and alcohol rehabilitation centers. She also volunteered with the CASA organization, court-appointed special advocates for children. In 2011 after having her hours cut at another job, she began working for Goodwill.
She said that she loves being part of the nonprofit’s mission of changing lives through education, training and employment. Christine’s manager says Christine is an excellent employee with the potential to advance in her career. Only one thing was holding her back: a lack of transportation. Christine and her husband, a pastor at a Lexington church, share just one vehicle, a van he must use daily for church needs. She says having her own vehicle will give her the flexibility she needs to advance at work and will improve her life in many ways.
Ten people applied to receive a donated vehicle through the Wheels-to-Work program in 2017. A selection committee made up of Goodwill employees from various departments helped to determine who was eligible to participate. To qualify for the program, participants had to meet certain qualifications, such as being employed at least 32 hours, having a valid driver’s license and a good driving record.
After being notified of acceptance into the program, participants had to complete training classes on budgeting, defensive driving and car maintenance. Recipients also pay a $200 administrative fee. Budgeting classes were provided at no cost by Fifth Third Bank, while the Metropolitan Nashville Police Department provided the defensive driving classes. One car has already been presented this year.
Several employees remain on a waiting list to receive an automobile through the Wheels-to-Work program. People who choose to donate vehicles to Goodwill support not only the Wheels-to-Work program but also Goodwill’s mission of changing lives through education, training and employment. More information can be found at www.giveit2goodwill.org/vehicles.
For nearly 60 years, Goodwill Industries of Middle Tennessee has provided job training and job placement free of charge to people with disabilities or other barriers to employment through the sale of donated items. In 2016, Goodwill served more than 43,000 people in Middle and West Tennessee and placed more than 17,000 people in jobs.
More information about Goodwill’s Career Solutions, retail stores and donation centers can be obtained by calling 1-800-545-9231; or visit www.giveit2 goodwill.org