President and CEO of Chattanooga Goodwill Industries Dennis Brice spoke to the Chattanooga Kiwanis Club Tuesday afternoon, saying Goodwill was founded on the principle "that people with disabilities deserve a chance, not just charity."
He described the history of Goodwill, saying the organization was founded in 1902 in Boston by a young Methodist minister, Edgar Helms. He said Helms started what was at the time a radical social movement by providing paid work for those with disabilities.
Today, he said, Goodwill continues with this mission. He said last year in the Chattanooga area alone, "We served over 9,000 people with disabilities and other barriers." The Chattanooga Goodwill was also the first in the state, as well as the 25th in the world.
He said, "We have a plethora of services we provide people." These services include everything from providing medical equipment to low-income patients, to mentoring at-risk youth, to helping people find jobs through testing to find their strengths.
For homeless people in the area who have been able to make the transition to a living arrangement, Goodwill works to provide furniture.
Another program Goodwill provides is the Goodwill Assistance Dog Academy. Assistance dogs are trained to help people with disabilities do things such as opening doors and pulling wheelchairs. Goodwill is able to provide these dogs as well as their other services for free because of the money they make from selling donated items in their retail stores.
He also said Goodwill works with many other nonprofits. He said, "Not one nonprofit can do it all. But as we spread our net, hopefully together we can keep a lot of people from falling through."
He said, along with the other nonprofits, "We serve a population that no one else even recognizes as being there."
Mr. Brice closed his presentation with an old proverb, saying, "If you want to feed a man for a day, give him a fish. But if you want to feed a man for a lifetime, teach him to fish."