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Goodwill helps disabled get jobs

Lawton_Goodwill Industries is more than just a retail store.  During its open house Friday, the public was invited to tour the Goodwill's facilities.

Goodwill Industries of Lawton offers all sorts of jobs to the community, operates an adult daycare center, and provides career development.  The organization gives those with disabilities a chance to achieve through opportunities it provides.  Those in attendance at the open house were pleasantly surprised at what Goodwill has to offer. 

The facility has a secured document shredder that contracts with different businesses or individuals to destroy sensitive documents under tight scrutiny, and at the same time provides a few new jobs.  Mike Harwell is one of 250 employees at Goodwill Industries, and is in charge of shredding documents. 

Harwell has been an employee there in different capacities for years; but before learning about Goodwill, it had been a struggle for him to find a job with his disability.  "It was a struggle," he says.  "Now, I've been here for 15 years."

Francy Ford with Goodwill says the organization gives employees like Harwell on the job training for the real world.  Sadly, only 15% of their employees actually get hired outside of the walls of Goodwill.  She says it's a challenge finding new work for them in Lawton.  But, she says what's unique about the employees is that there is little to no turnover rate.  "They care about their work - they have pride," says Ford.

Without Goodwill, Harwell says he would be lost.  He says Goodwill has changed his life, and gives him something to look forward to - and at the same time he earns a paycheck.  "Good programs for us clients," he says.  "I like it - it helps me out a lot." 

Programs such as the document shredder, the thrift store, and others, help to generate almost $5 Million in all ten of its facilities in Southwest Oklahoma and North Texas.  Much of the support comes from the United Way, and that money goes to payroll.  If you would like to learn more about Goodwill and the opportunities it provides for those with disabilities - visit their website at www.goodwill.org.

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