South Florida has some of the finest hotels, hospitals and medical facilities in the nation. This is a hemispheric health center that attracts international patients to their high quality of care. Several hospitals are recognized worldwide in specialized fields of treatment and patient care. The growth and expansion of the local hospital industry and its impact on the economy and quality employment are very evident. We are happy to say that we are also expanding our customer base to include the hospitality industry as well.
Because of this dynamic growth, and the limited number of laundries to support the healthcare industry, Goodwill was motivated to develop the Goodwill Laundry. You might ask yourself – why Goodwill? - Particularly since most people have the impression that Goodwill only collects donations, sells them in thrift stores and helps people with disabilities in a manner that most people are not aware of.
Actually, this business is no stranger to Goodwill. There are four Goodwills in the laundry business – one for almost 40 years. This is something that would not be a surprise to people who have had an opportunity to know more about Goodwill. For many years, Goodwill has been very successful operating several complex businesses under a unique “social enterprise business model” that serves to make a positive impact each year on the lives of thousands of our citizens with disabilities.
Goodwill’s mission is to provide job training and employment to people with significant disabilities so they can become employed and self-supporting in the local community.
Goodwill is unique because it engages in business activities that generate work, generate a payroll and produce a profit. Goodwill then uses the work as a tool to provide job training. Goodwill uses the payroll to pay program participants until they complete their program and can become employed in the community. Goodwill uses the profit to pay for the cost of services provided.
Goodwill’s business activities are vast. With an average work force of over 2,400 people on the payroll daily at year’s end, Goodwill provided custodial, landscaping and food services for 137 different buildings. Goodwill also manufactures over 6,000 military uniforms for our country's military. Many of our uniform items go to support our troops in Afghanistan. And, it provides the labor to assemble and insert pre-printed advertising supplements in The Miami Herald newspaper that includes receiving and collating all inserts. Goodwill also provides document destruction services to about 50 corporate customers. In addition, it solicits the merchandise donations that are sold throughout our 32 retail stores in South Florida.
With these business activities, Goodwill has the capacity to serve about 2,200 people daily. Because our programs are designed to transition them to the community, Goodwill serves about 5,000 people each year. Goodwill is very successful, yet it is not enough!
According to the U.S. Census, there are more than 430,000 people with disabilities in South Florida. Of those, 82% are not working and 25% live below the poverty line.
Given this extraordinary regional need, GISFL does not engage in any business activities for the sole purpose of providing permanent employment to people. Our Goodwill alone or even ten Goodwills could not meet this need. It needs the support of the larger community. Instead, Goodwill employ techniques designed to assist the largest possible number of participants to complete their program and transition into the larger community and employment market. They do so as soon as ready, willing and an employer can be identified to help them take that important step in their life’s growth.
The question is why then the laundry business? Because the laundry has the potential to create about 200 good paying jobs once it is up to its full capacity.
Consistent with Goodwill’s mission, the Goodwill Laundry Services is being developed to help the population of people with disabilities and special needs in the Liberty City area. This is the largest pocket of poverty and unemployment in South Florida.