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Goodwill Overcomes Barriers to Jobs

Goodwill Overcomes Barriers to Jobs
Customers who order a holiday gift kit with their Nordstrom.com purchases this year will likely receive a product assembled by individuals from Goodwill of the Heartland's Contract Services team.

Since 2006, Goodwill of the Heartland and Nordstrom's Cedar Rapids fulfillment center have partnered to provide paid training opportunities for Goodwill's workforce, comprised of individuals who experience barriers to independence such as developmental disabilities. As part of this partnership, the Goodwill workforce is responsible for creating Nordstrom gift kits, which includes folding boxes and tissue, inserting customer assembly instruction sheets and shrink-wrapping the kits to contain loose components like gift cards and bows.

"Working with the Goodwill workforce makes me proud to have these connections and be part of giving back." —Ruchi Christiansen, Nordstrom industrial engineering manager"The gift kit project creates up to 15 jobs on a daily basis," said Jessica Schamberger, business development manager for Goodwill of the Heartland. "Last year, 92 clients produced more than 99,000 gift kits for Nordstrom while building valuable work skills."

A growing partnership

While Nordstrom works with Goodwill year round, the number of jobs available increases during peak seasons like holiday. Since the first contract in 2006, the partnership has grown significantly. In 2009, the Goodwill workforce logged 4,100 hours and in 2010, it grew to 8,491. Nordstrom has also hired Goodwill job seekers directly as seasonal team members to form boxes for gift-wrapped merchandise.

"The quality of the Goodwill workforce workmanship is great," said Ruchi Christiansen, a Nordstrom industrial engineering manager, who works with the Goodwill management team to create project opportunities for the workforce. "Working with the Goodwill workforce makes me proud to have these connections and be part of giving back," said Ruchi.

In recognition of this ongoing partnership, Goodwill of the Heartland honored Nordstrom as the 2010 Contract Partner of the Year.

"Nordstrom is an outstanding collaborator," Jessica said. "It's rewarding to work for a business that is so passionate about people."

"It's humbling to be part of a program that is dedicated to helping individuals overcome barriers towards their own independence," said Chris Bright, Cedar Rapids building director. "The program is great because it helps people knock down those barriers. We continue to look for opportunities to work with them."

Goodwill Overcomes Barriers to Jobs

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