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Award Recipient
Goodwill Columbus

About the Award
Created in 1986, The Columbus Foundation Award recognizes organizations that have made a difference in the quality of life in our community.

2015 Columbus Foundation Award Winner
Goodwill Columbus

In 2014, the agency served nearly 3,200 individuals representing more than 1.3 million hours of service. It was also a record year for Goodwill retail operations, which generated more than $13 million in donated goods revenue to support its programs. Margie Pizzuti, president and CEO of Goodwill since 2005, recently offered insight on where the organization has been…and where it’s headed.

Goodwill has been in Columbus for more than 75 years. How has your mission evolved through the years?

Goodwill was founded in 1939 by Reverend Charles Graham, with an $8,000 startup budget, as a supported employment program for individuals with developmental and physical disabilities. Over the past 75 years, Goodwill has evolved into a $44 million, multi-faceted agency offering a range of workforce development programs, as well as residential, day habilitation, and work services for individuals with developmental disabilities. Additional diverse populations in our community served by Goodwill include individuals experiencing homelessness, unemployed and underemployed youth, veterans, and those with a mental health diagnosis or a criminal history.

Workforce development has been a priority since your inception. What kind of opportunities does Goodwill provide today to those with developmental disabilities and other barriers?

Historically, workforce development programs were designed according to the specific population served. Today, Goodwill services are highly integrated. We recognize that, irrespective of the disability or barrier a person is experiencing, assisting clients to gain an understanding of their abilities and providing them with wrap-around services can lead to meaningful employment opportunities. Goodwill is committed to providing a “hand up” through workforce training and development programs that dovetail with Ohio’s Employment First and other employment initiatives. Together, we help move our community’s most vulnerable citizens toward a pathway to self-sufficiency, independence, and inclusion.

Nonprofits depend on the generosity of community members in order to succeed. How have people helped Goodwill achieve its goals?

Goodwill leverages its resources effectively by working closely and collaboratively with community partners including The Columbus Foundation, United Way of Central Ohio, Ohio Means Jobs/COWIC, Opportunities for Ohioans with Disabilities, Ohio Department of Developmental Disabilities, Franklin County Job and Family Services, Franklin County Board of Developmental Disabilities, as well as the Community Shelter Board. In addition, Goodwill has received steadfast and generous support from private and corporate donors, foundation and government grants, and earned income from its business operations.

Goodwill is in some ways one of the earliest to adopt a social enterprise model to grow its organization.  Tell us about how entrepreneurial thinking has influenced your organization.

Goodwill’s “social enterprise” model is deeply rooted in its history. It has been part of a national movement for more than a century and encompasses a mix of business operations in our community including retail, after market/salvage, contract business services (unarmed security and custodial), auto auction, e-commerce, and e-cycling. These enterprises are designed to train and employ individuals with disabilities and other barriers, enabling our clients and our agency’s employees to develop skills and increase their earning potential to advance their career paths. The earned income generated from these businesses supports Goodwill’s vitally important mission-related programs and services.

What does the future look like for Goodwill?

As we look to the future, we will continue to embrace our steadfast passion to provide quality, compassionate support to our most vulnerable citizens in central Ohio. By serving as a responsible steward of its resources, Goodwill is committed to maintaining its leadership position as a collaborative, agile, and financially stable organization, adapting readily to the community’s needs while focusing on our mission of transforming the lives of individuals with disabilities and other barriers through pathways to independence and the power of work.