SoCal Goodwill helping unemployed people find jobs amid COVID-19 crisis

Goodwill stores and donation centers are shut down during the coronavirus pandemic, but nonprofit's mission hasn't stopped. The organization is doing its part to help the unemployed find jobs.

Nonprofits like Goodwill have felt the economic impact of the COVID-19 crisis.

"We've had to close our stores as not essential, which is over 80 stores in L.A. County, San Bernardino, Riverside counties," said Stephanie Medina, director of community relations at Goodwill Southern California.

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While the company has experienced layoffs, it has rehired some employees to make plastic face shields for health care workers. At least four palettes of completed masks were set to be shipped out on Thursday, said Steve Barr, director of contracts and environmental services with Goodwill Southern California.

The nonprofit is not just helping its own workers. With unemployment skyrocketing, Goodwill's workforce centers remain open for everyone.

"It's across the board people that are trying to look for job upgrades, trying to look for skills development. Of course right now people trying to find benefits more than anything else," said Simon Lopez, vice president of workforce and career development with Goodwill Southern California.

Goodwill is helping people online and over the phone with some limited in-person options.

"With the layoffs last week and the week before, it's a ton of calls. The phone does not stop ringing all day trying," Lopez said.

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Alejandro Garcia is grateful to pay it forward by helping people find work.

"When I came to Goodwill, that was probably one of the best things I ever did for my life. One of the biggest choices I've ever made was take that leap of faith and come here," Garcia said. "I'm able to further my skills and help people at the same time and provide for programs that are actually, you know, helping people change their lives."

It is a challenging job market.

"A lot of people come in and apply for unemployment and we're also having a lot of people who need jobs. A lot of people cannot wait until their unemployment comes in and they need to start working," said Mariam Rojo, a project coordinator with Goodwill Southern California.

Right now, you can't deliver a donation in the form of clothes or other items, but if you want to support the Goodwill, you can make a donation online.

"To help us keep going and going to goodwillsocal.org," Medina said.

To make a donation, visit www.goodwillsocal.org/donate

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