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In the Excel daycare center, l-r, Lead Toddler Teacher Kyla Shelton, Excel student Marlese Jackson, Excel daycare supervisor Rose Lorafs, and Teacher Quetta Allen

Goodwill's Excel Center opens in Gary

Contributed By:The 411 News

Creating pathways to education, training, and jobs

“After doing it quietly for a number of years, now we're doing it not so quietly,” Debie Coble, President & CEO of Goodwill Industries of Michiana said at Thursday’s grand opening of the Gary Excel Center on the new Goodwill campus at 4610 W. Clark Road.

Gary’s campus is the latest example of how Goodwill is not doing it quietly. The 105,000 sq. ft. facility has a retail thrift store, donations distribution center, a high school for adults that includes childcare, and a career center.

Where they are today builds upon the vision of Goodwill founder Edgar Helms said Cyndi Kavanaugh, Vice President Excel Centers. Helms’ words stand out above a door in the Excel Center, “Friends of Goodwill, be dissatisfied with your work until every person in your community has an opportunity to develop to their fullest usefulness…”

“People in our communities need more than access to goods; they need jobs and work,” Kavanaugh said.

The Excel Center is where adults, 18 and over, can get their Indiana Core 40 high school diploma, not a GED, while earning certification in a career or earn college credits. Goodwill has created nearly 20 Excel Centers across Indiana.

The school is also tuition free. Gary Public Transportation offers bus passes to eligible students at the center.

Goodwill opened its first northwest Indiana Excel Center in Hammond 2 years ago. “The first year we had 16 graduates; our second year, we had 41,” Kavanaugh said. “The Hammond center was the first in the state to have a graduating class in its first year.”

At no cost to students, their children, infants to age 7 stay in the daycare center while parents attend classes. Daycare classes are structured for infants, toddlers, and pre-school.

Excel grads and anyone in the community needing help in finding work can use the Community Career Center. Here, they get help writing resumes, learn how to do job searches, and even practice their interviewing skills. The career center will even help job seekers with some basic needs, like clothing and transportation.

When Helms started the first Goodwill more than 100 years ago, he collected household items and clothing that had been thrown away; those that could be repaired or refurbished were distributed to those in need. Today, it’s a principle shared worldwide and is a lesson for communities to donate unused household goods to serve a better purpose instead of putting them in the trash.

Coble said Goodwill’s retail stores are the major funding source for its Excel Centers. “Last year we kept 7.6 thousand tons of household goods from landfills. Excel Centers are our way of strengthening communities through education, job training, and job placement.”

Next door to the Excel Center that day, the retail store and donation center which opened a week earlier were bustling. The retail store sells its goods for $1.29 a pound.

L-r, Goodwill Campus Director Theresa Knipe, Excel student Ericka Kado, and Cyndi Kavanaugh

Excel Center on Goodwill’s new campus in Gary

Story Posted:08/17/2019

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