DERBY, KAN. – Looking to provide more opportunities to local seniors, Goodwill Industries of Kansas recently announced a partnership with the Derby Senior Center initiating a pilot program that will provide job and digital skills training for interested individuals.
“We’ll [be] offering a training opportunity for individuals who are interested in working in our store to try some things out, see what they’re good at and then – if it’s a good fit – actually work at our store and be hired at our store,” said Goodwill Industries of Kansas President/CEO Laura Ritterbush.
“I’m very excited about this partnership that we have with Goodwill, the jobs pathway program that’s coming out of it and what that means to the benefit and health of the seniors of the center,” said outgoing Derby Senior Services and Transportation Director BreAnna Monk. “Seniors in this community are active and because they are active this makes us the perfect place to start such an amazing pilot system.”
Eyeing a start date in summer 2022, the pilot program’s job training will prepare Derby seniors for work or volunteer opportunities as a clerk/cashier or production associate, among other positions Goodwill is looking to fill at its stores. There will be both digital and on-site elements to that training, Ritterbush noted.
Positions available and employment interest of seniors are factors that could limit participation in the job training portion of the program, but Monk noted the digital skills element opens it up to anyone at the Derby Senior Center and helps meet a need.
Goodwill Industries will provide laptops and even has a mobile computer lab it can bring to the center that will be utilized specifically to offer digital skills training, which will partially be driven by the interests of senior center members.
“There’s always something dealing with the electronic and digital age that seniors may not find too helpful, but by providing an avenue, place, situation or program, seniors can actually choose how they want to learn and how it will benefit them,” Monk said.
“One thing they are dying to do is connect with people and use technology whether it is their cell phones, social media, Google apps, YouTube, Maps, etc.,” said Goodwill Director of Marketing and Communications Justin Rupert.
Course offerings for digital skills training are still being finalized based on the specific interests of Derby Senior Center members. Ritterbush and Monk both noted more formal announcements on the program with official details will be forthcoming.
While Goodwill is launching the pilot program in conjunction with its Derby store, the company also sees the potential for expansion into surrounding markets throughout Kansas. The partnership with Derby will help determine the framework for that expansion to help meet its own needs.
“As many employers, we struggle with hiring people right now in many of our communities. We’re looking at all ages and ranges of folks of how do we engage people in our workforce and what does that look like. This provides an opportunity for a segment of the population, thinking ‘how do we potentially engage with senior centers across our territory,’” Ritterbush said. “We have a lot of potential opportunity in the future to look at a similar partnership in all these other senior centers, but Derby’s where we’re starting just to kind of see how it works and figure out the bumps in the road and what that could look like in other communities.”
About Goodwill Industries of Kansas, Inc.
As a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization, Goodwill Industries of Kansas provides opportunities for people with disabilities and barriers to employment seeking independent and productive lives. Hundreds of people with disabilities receive case management services and develop life and job skills through employment at Goodwill’s home office and in the community. Whether it be recycling donated items or preparing insulation for local aviation manufacturers, Goodwill clients and employees have found success and become more independent through work in our contracts division.
In addition, adults work toward their GED and other certificate programs through NexStep Alliance, a partnership between Goodwill and WSU Tech. More than 1,400 individuals receive services through Goodwill each year. These programs are supported by 18 retail stores in Kansas along with an online division at shopgoodwill.com/ks. For more information about Goodwill, visit goodwillks.org.