Marion Goodwill Honored With PALS Award

The Commission on Adult Basic Education (COABE) exists to provide leadership, communication, professional development and advocacy for adult education and literacy practitioners in order to advance quality services for all adult learners. Thirteen thousand members strong, COABE provides competitive national-level awards, incentive grants, and scholarships opportunities annually through special funding provided by the Dollar General Literacy Foundation.

The Partners in Adult Learning Services (PALS) Award honors an individual or organization that is not employed in the field of education, but that has made an outstanding contribution to adult basic education/literacy as a community leader at the local state, regional, and/or national level. Contributions may be in one of several areas such as: legislative/public policy, leadership, instruction/tutoring, innovative services, initiating cooperative interagency activity, school/community/business partnerships or advisory committees.

Marion Goodwill is just one of the many Goodwill agencies serving across the United States, however it is a valuable partner to the Marion Technical College ABLE program. In January of 2012, the MTC ABLE program was informed that the program site located at Lincoln Center and owned by the Marion City Schools would no longer be available after June of that year as an ABLE site. The news was overwhelming. Lincoln Center was a site that was open mornings, afternoons, and evenings. It was located in the heart of Marion’s most economically challenged area and walking distance from many of the agencies and homes in the area. Thankfully, the Marion Technical College offered class-room space to the ABLE program on a relatively short-term basis. But the long range plans for the MTC space would prevent continuous use by the ABLE program. Plus Marion Tech is located on the edge of Marion and is not easily accessed by someone whose only means of transportation is on foot.

In the fall of 2012, Marion Goodwill had purchased a building which had previously been a bank. The plan was to use it for an additional office space for Goodwill staff. However, a chance conversation between a board member and the MTC ABLE Coordinator resulted in the exploration of the concept of the ABLE pro-gram using the building as a learning center along with Goodwill using some of the space for office and training. Exchanges of thoughts and ideas came furiously as the needs of the ABLE program were shared with the architect who incorporated them with the needs of Goodwill. November through January were months of incredible remodeling! The bank space became a computer lab area and two classrooms with the wiring for individual computer stations were incorporated. Doors opened in February 2013 to the staff and students of MTC ABLE. The building is formally known as the Goodwill Education and Training Center. It quickly earned the nickname of the GET Center. After everything was in place, the coordinator thoughtfully reflected on why she had not sought Goodwill as a partner earlier.

The mission of Marion Goodwill Industries, Inc. is to assist individuals with disabilities and other special needs to attain self-sufficiency through employment and training, thus enabling them to reach their maximum potential within the community. The mission of Marion Goodwill aligns perfectly with the mission of ABLE. Goodwill’s specialty is assisting clients to obtain and retain jobs—a measurement of the ABLE program as part of the National Reporting System. ABLE could focus on its strength—helping to improve people’s academic skills and partner with Goodwill to provide the soft skills needed to obtain and retain employment.

To be a good partnership, it should be beneficial to both participants. And this one is. The ABLE program has a location to provide educational opportunities to adults but Goodwill is also able to use the space for their pre-employment program that they offer free to the community. Their clients can use the computers and Internet access when not used by the ABLE students. It is definitely a win-win for the all involved.

Marion Goodwill received a $1,000 financial award plus a travel stipend and complimentary registration to attend our annual national conference which was held in Pittsburgh, PA on March 16-19, 2014 where they were recognized at a ceremony in their honor.

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