A Lesson In
Helping People Help Themselves
By HECTOR FLORES
In Queens, it is taking a lot of Goodwill
Industries teaching skills to help adults and children build toward a better life.
Just ask 47-year-old Ivanhoe Jones, who has
seen his way through some tough times and has come out on top with help from an agency, in
Astoria, that takes pride in helping turn peoples lives around.
The assembly plant that sorts
through donated clothing to be
delivered and sold at the
Goodwill Industries retail stores.
"I was working in the Brooklyn
Navy Yard as a steam fitter, fitting high pressure pipes for ten years," recalled
Jones. "In 1991, I lost my job and was in the process of a divorce. As a result,
I had a nervous breakdown with all that was going through my mind at the time."
In 1992, Jones was referred to the Goodwill
facility in Astoria as a client and assigned a social worker to begin his journey back
into the work force.
He participated in various programs in the
facility and in August of 1998 was hired as a full time employee in the cable processing
plant in Goodwill Industries for Con Edison.
Instructor David Engleheart gets
student ready to take their GED exams
at Goodwills adult literacy program.
Tribune Photos by Hector Flores
"It was a good feeling to know
that I had entered the work force again, to receive a salary, and be eligible for
vacation. Even when I was in the assembly floor, putting hangers together, it was nice to
wake up each morning to do something instead of just wasting away," Jones said.
"That is what Goodwill does, it gives you the confidence to leave your house and
enter the real world and do something with your life."
Today Jones assists his supervisor on the
day to day operations of a cable splicing facility at Goodwill and hopes to one day return
to construction work.
"I like what I am doing, everyday it
is a challenge to meet our contract with Con Edison.
"They give us an order and we have to
meet our deadlines in order to keep their contract," Jones said. "The feeling I
have is unexplainable. God bless Goodwill Industries for who they are and what they stand
The Goodwill Industries of
Greater New York and Northern New Jersey has been helping economically challenged youths
and those with physical ailments and mental illnesses enter the work-force with the skills
and confidence needed to land a steady paying job and become productive members in
The industry accomplishes its mission by
offering an array of special programs geared for these individuals. One of the facilities
that services these special cases is located at 04-21 27th Ave. in Astoria.
The facility in conjunction
with IS 10, IS 141 and PS 149 offers after school programs (Beacon Programs) for adults
and children of the community.
Through the program, tutoring in homework
and reading is made available to area students.
Ivanhoe Jones meets his deadlines
by getting cut and spliced cables
ready for delivery to Con Edison.
Tribune Photo by Hector Flores
According to Martha Gotwals,
Goodwills public relations representative, the facility provides children with free
books to read through their Good Books program. "Books are donated by stores,
publishing companies, or individuals," she said. "Children can pick up a book at
any of our facilities or affiliates at no charge. The only requirement is that they sign a
registry that commits them to reading the book. This program was created to improve
literacy in our communities."
There are also programs geared toward
teenagers including the Adolescent Vocational Exploration (A.V.E.), for teenagers between
the ages of 14 and 16, and the Progressive Adolescent Vocational Exploration (P.A.V.E.)
for teens between the ages of 15 and 18.
Ivanhoe Jones claims Goodwill
industries gave him a chance to
"do something with my life."
Photo Courtesy of Goodwill Industries
These programs help teens
successfully complete their education.
The programs offer mentors, staff
assistance, special speakers, internships, summer job placement, tutoring, and assistance
with college applications.
Teenagers are also shown vocational career
paths through the facilitys Signs and Designs shop.
Participants run a sign engraving business
with teachers from other beacon programs. Teens take orders from companies who need office
name engravings and send them to the client companies as soon as the orders have been
According to Gotwals, this program teaches
older teenagers entrepreneurial, marketing, and advertising skills.
The Goodwill facility in
Astoria provides an array of contract services such as assembly and packaging, motor
messenger, and cleaning for companies looking for subcontractors.
Subcontracting enables handicapped or
disabled members with jobs and training to make a decent and independent living.
As part of the assembly and packaging
service, Goodwill Inc. maintains cable splicing equipment plant that is used as a
subcontractor by Con Edison to cut and splice cables into different sizes and deliver them
to Con Edison plants.
Goodwill Industries also maintains a chain of thrift stores
whose products are processed by handicapped members.
The stores serve as training ground for handicapped members
who are looking for work experience or plan to enter the retail field.
The products, such as clothing, toys, and
household appliances are collected, sorted and shipped from the processing plant in
The revenue received from the stores are
used as salaries for the workers and helps to fund Goodwill programs.
The Diane Armstrong Family
learning Center, a subsidiary of Goodwill Industries, was created in March of 1998 to
provide continuing education to local residents.
According to Gail Harris, director of the
facility, the learning center, with conjunction with the Board of Education, La Guardia
Community College, and The Consortium for Worker Education, teaches basic literary skills
and provides computer classes free of charge to residents who apply.
Classes are given Monday through Friday
from 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. and students usually range from 18 years of age or older.
Currently, basic learning levels range from 2.3 to 2.9 and adults are placed in their
corresponding classes based on the result of their assessment tests.
The center provides five ESL courses where
immigrants can also prepare to the take the GED exam.
Residents who need computer skills, but are
unable to afford classes can take advantage of the facilitys computer labs. There
are four computer classes that train students to use the programs that are essential in
todays job market.
"Computer classes are taught every
hour in the learning lab. Students are taught Intro. to computers, Microsoft, Power Point,
Excel, typing, accounting, and math," Harris said.
For more information on
after school programs contact Goodwill Industries at 728-5400.
For more information on the Diane Armstrong Family Learning
Center, contact Gail Harris as 777-6440.