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Unemployment to Success How our Goodwill KV Collaboration is Changing Lives

In November 2020, Goodwill Industries of the Kanawha Valley Inc. (Goodwill KV) embarked on a mission to assist job-seekers to be successful, at a time when many were displaced from work due to the COVID pandemic. The launch of their Mission Services program proved to be a beacon of hope for many individuals facing unemployment. One of the standout success stories arising from this initiative is the remarkable partnership between Goodwill KV and The Blennerhassett Hotel and Spa.

Unemployment to Success How our Goodwill KV Collaboration is Changing Lives

Reflecting on the early days of the collaboration, David Mitchell, Career Center Manager at Goodwill KV, fondly recalls  “(The Goodwill KV former location) was less than a block from the Blennerhassett Hotel. I can still remember the first day I walked into the hotel and met with Robin Silva at the front desk to introduce myself and our services. Little did I know what a great partner the hotel under the leadership of Lee, Wayne, and Sherry would be.”

The partnership between Goodwill KV and The Blennerhassett Hotel quickly flourished, leading to the successful employment of at least ten program participants at the hotel. One shining example is Jonathan Davis, a young man with autism who joined Goodwill KV’s program to enhance his soft skills before undertaking a community-based assessment at the hotel. Following the completion of the program, Davis was hired by The Blennerhassett Hotel and Spa, and his impact has been nothing short of extraordinary. At the time of writing, Davis has just returned from finals week at Marshall University and is about to embark on his third year of employment at the hotel. Jonathan’s dedication and infectious positivity have made him a beloved member of The Blennerhassett Team.

Travis Stephens, Marketing Manager at The Blennerhassett Hotel and Spa, has witnessed tremendous growth in Davis’s confidence and abilities. He shares, “Jonathan’s confidence in himself and his capabilities has skyrocketed since I first met him. When I talk to him, I get the impression that the very same confidence is carrying over to his coursework. Seeing Jonathan make these strides deeply inspires me. I see him challenging himself and succeeding.”

The success of the partnership between Goodwill KV and The Blennerhassett Hotel can be attributed to the hotel’s unwavering commitment to providing second chances. Mitchell emphasizes, “What has made our Goodwill Mission Services programming so successful at the hotel is the openness, compassion, and willingness of its management team to give second chances to the many individuals we serve who have difficult barriers to overcome. Whether a felony charge, incarceration, overcoming substance abuse, or just needing a fresh start, The Blennerhassett Hotel has opened their doors with a willingness to provide training and employment opportunities under the mindset of ‘we don’t care what you did in the past, today we start with a clean slate.’ They have trusted Goodwill’s involvement, input, direction, and employment training with each applicant they have worked with at the hotel.”

Bobbie Meyer, an extraordinary woman employed at The Blennerhassett Hotel, exemplifies the transformative power of this partnership. Despite a troubled past marred by abuse, Meyer found the courage to seek a fresh start after focusing on her sobriety. Hesitant but determined, she approached Goodwill KV, a decision that proved to be life-changing. Meyer embarked on a journey of empowerment, setting and achieving small yet significant goals that gradually built her confidence. After completing preparatory coursework, she was hired by The Blennerhassett Hotel and Spa, where she now spreads joy in the field of hospitality.

Goodwill Career Centers serve as catalysts for success by equipping job seekers with essential skills and instilling confidence for the workforce. These invaluable services are provided free of charge to program participants, largely made possible through the support of Goodwill’s retail locations. By shopping or donating gently used clothing and home goods to Goodwill, individuals contribute to the continuation of these impactful programs.

The Goodwill Career Centers offer a comprehensive range of services tailored to meet diverse community needs. From two-week pre-employment courses and individual workshops to hands-on two-month paid training programs, job search assistance, help with applying for raises, and even no-cost hospitality and food handler certification programs, Goodwill is committed to enabling individuals to develop the skills required to achieve their career aspirations.

The partnership between Goodwill KV and The Blennerhassett Hotel stands as a shining example of the transformative power of collaboration and second chances. Through their joint efforts, lives have been uplifted, barriers overcome, and individuals empowered to embark on fulfilling career journeys. As the partnership continues to thrive, both organizations remain dedicated to creating lasting positive change in the lives of those they serve.


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