Last year, Goodwill Industries served a record number of people in Central Florida and 5,800 of those were in Osceola County.

Whether it’s someone seeking employment or needing help obtaining a GED, Goodwill offers many services to those needing assistance. And all services are free.

 “Osceola is our highest producing county with the most number of people in need,” said Maria Cherjovsky, vice president of mission services for Goodwill Industries of Central Florida. “At the Kissimmee Job Connection Center, we see an average of 2,300 people per month. We want to be part of the fiber of the community. We are well established in Osceola and we are a household name.”

Out of the 5,800 Osceola residents who came into the job center last year, a little more than 1,200 were placed in jobs that had an average hourly rate of $11.52. The top five industries were: accommodation and food services, retail trade, transportation and warehousing, manufacturing and health care. Goodwill helped place nearly 11,000 people in jobs in 2018 across six Central Florida counties – a 33 percent increase from 2017.

“We offer a lot of resources,” Cherjovsky says. “We are a one-stop shop for services.”

At the job connection centers, job placement specialists work with participants to assess their skills and strengths, build an employment plan, help with resume writing and prepare for a job interview. Goodwill also connects people with education and certification opportunities, such as computer training and teaching English as a second language.

We know what the community is struggling with and address certain things,” she said.

Goodwill prides itself in its flexibility and agility to provide what the community needs. They recently expanded the facility’s hours to include Saturday and Goodwill continues to participate in events to spread the word. Those using the job connection centers range from teens who are out of the house to senior citizens looking for new opportunities.

For many years, Hector Burgos ran his own construction company in Puerto Rico and New York. The 78-year-old is now one of the first faces the community meets when visiting the Kissimmee Job Connection Center. He began about eight months ago in conjunction with a partnership between Goodwill and AARP when he needed to re-enter the workforce to make ends meet financially.

Goodwill Industries of Central Florida is celebrating a milestone anniversary – 60 years helping those in the local area.

Nima Hodaei, president and CEO of Goodwill of Central Florida, says, “We’re grateful for the community’s generosity in advancing our mission of building lives that work. It’s been an honor to earn the trust of thousands of job-seekers in our community. In the years ahead, we’ll continue evolving to meet our region’s needs and increase our impact by connecting job-seekers to training and education that helps them build sustainable careers.”

 Nationwide, Goodwill served 49,863 in 2018, connecting them with resources and job training. Cherjovsky says some seeking help may be employed but want to increase their skills or move up. Osceola County has had strong numbers for the past five years and Goodwill is committed to continue identifying the community’s needs, Cherjovsky added.

“We want to help them with their journey and help them achieve their goals,” she said.