ROCKVILLE, Md., Sept. 18, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- In recognition of National Hispanic Heritage Month, September 15 – October 15, 2013, Goodwill Industries International is highlighting contributions made by America's growing Hispanic population to the country's economic and cultural vitality.
The 2010 U.S. Census revealed that 50.5 million Americans — 16 percent of the population — identify themselves as Hispanic or Latino. That's an increase of 30 percent over the 2000 Census, which counted the nation's Hispanic population at 35.3 million.
In 2012, Goodwill helped more than 218,000 people of Hispanic origin through services geared toward helping them gain job skills and earn meaningful employment. These individuals are building strong families and vibrant communities through the power of work.
"Goodwill has trained millions of people through employment services, job training and community-based programs," said Jim Gibbons, president and CEO, Goodwill Industries International. "For many job seekers, these efforts focus on strengthening skills they already possess. For Hispanics, those skills often include the ability to speak more than one language."
One such job seeker was Ivelisse Torres, a mother who needed to build a career after her husband was killed in a car accident. Prior to her husband's death, she did not work outside the home. With Goodwill's help, she was able to improve her English-language skills through an intensive English as a second language (ESL) program. She gained job experience working in a Goodwill store, and, after growing her skills, she earned a position as a bilingual career specialist at Goodwill Industries of the Southern Rivers (Columbus, GA). She now recruits students for the ESL program and coordinates the classes that she once took in Valdosta, GA. She is working toward a bachelor's degree in psychology and supporting her growing daughters.
Karla Mejia is another individual who benefited from Goodwill services. She wanted to gain work experience while still attending high school, so she enrolled in the Youth Employment Services (Y.E.S.) program at Goodwill of North Georgia (Atlanta). She subsequently earned an internship as a Spanish interpreter at the Good Samaritan Health Center of in Duluth, GA. Through the Y.E.S. program, she received career counseling to help her be successful on the job. Her employer was so impressed with her performance that Mejia was hired part-time during the school year. Her experience brings her closer to her goal of performing missionary work to help people with low incomes in Costa Rica and Nicaragua. She is enrolled in Lanier Career Academy (high school) and is also receiving training at Lanier Technical College to become a certified medical assistant.
"Research has shown that the biggest challenges to employment for people of Hispanic heritage are language and literacy, basic education and work skills, and documentation of status," said Jim Gibbons, president and CEO, Goodwill Industries International. "Knowing this, Goodwill has customized its workforce development services to help this population navigate these challenges and earn employment."
Goodwill values diversity and welcomes people of all ethnicities and nationalities to take advantage of its job training programs and community services.
ABOUT GOODWILL INDUSTRIES INTERNATIONAL: Goodwill Industries International is a network of 165 community-based agencies in the United States and Canada with affiliates in 13 other countries. Goodwill agencies are innovative and sustainable social enterprises that fund job training programs, employment placement services and other community-based programs by selling donated clothing and household items in more than 2,700 stores and online at shopgoodwill.com®. Goodwill also builds revenue and creates jobs by contracting with businesses and government agencies to provide a wide range of commercial services, including packaging and assembly, food service preparation, and document imaging and shredding. In 2012, more than 6.7 million people in the United States and Canada benefited from Goodwill's career services. Goodwill channels 82 percent of its revenues directly into its programs and services. To find a Goodwill location near you, use the online locator at www.goodwill.org, or call (800) GOODWILL. Follow us on Twitter: @GoodwillIntl, and find us on Facebook: GoodwillIntl.