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Donation To Goodwill: A Box Full Of Hope

Sometimes, a tool chest holds more than tools. Sometimes, it also holds dreams of a better life and the spirit of a community that supports those dreams.

Such is the case with a 56-inch tall, 23-drawer, industrial tool chest that now graces an unusual classroom in West Nashville. The classroom, filled with saws, hammers, screwdrivers, hardhats and other equipment along with the fresh smell of sawdust, is the home of Goodwill’s Construction Training Program.

On Jan. 22, representatives of Skanska, one of the world’s leading project development and construction groups, met in the classroom with leaders from Goodwill Industries of Middle Tennessee and the Nashville Career Advancement Center for the presentation of the tool chest as a gift from Skanska to Goodwill. A class was under way, and 10 students paused from learning to wire electrical outlets and switches to take part in the brief ceremony.

“For Goodwill, our vision is that all people should have the opportunity to reach their fullest potential through the power of work,” Goodwill President and CEO Matthew Bourlakas said. “We could not achieve that vision on our own — we simply can’t as a nonprofit. It’s leveraging the generosity and philanthropy of great companies like Skanska that allows us to do that.”

Goodwill’s mission is changing lives through education, training and employment. Each year, Goodwill Career Solutions provides services for thousands of people struggling with barriers to employment, such as a lack of skills or certification, a history of incarceration or a language gap.

Career Solutions clients are referred to the Construction Training Program based on their aptitude and desire. They attend classes daily for four weeks, receiving a stipend of $100 per week. Upon completion of the course, which covers safety, construction math, hand and power tools, blueprints, rigging, communication and employability skills, students receive certification from the National Council for Construction, Education and Research.

Since the program began in 2012, 87 percent of graduates have gone on to successfully gain employment, and 76 percent have entered the construction field. Last year, 125 Construction Training Program graduates found employment.

Instructor Tim Kahn explained that he pushes his students to not only master the curriculum but to become “job ready.”

“There’s a million different things they need to be able to do so that, when they get to a jobsite, not only are they going to fit in, they’re going to excel,” he explained. “Everybody starts at the bottom, but our students move up quickly. And that’s my goal: It’s one thing to come out of here and make $12 or $13 an hour, but it’s another thing (if) three months from now you’re making $18 or $19.”

Having a high-quality tool chest for students to use and keep organized will further improve their job-readiness, Kahn said, and it will also safeguard equipment for future classes.

Skanska’s donation was arranged by Clay Faircloth, a Community Outreach Specialist for the Nashville Career Advancement Center, which partners with Goodwill to provide the construction certifications for local citizens. He said when Kahn let him know the program badly needed a tool chest, he immediately thought of Skanska, which has a track record of “not just building great buildings but helping build lives and improve opportunities for everyone.”

Faircloth contacted Alisha Wix, Skanska’s Diversity and Inclusion Director, who quickly sought and received approval for the purchase of the tool chest. She said doing so aligned with one of Skanska’s core values of “being better together.”

“There was a need, and we see value in the program and wanted to support it,” she said.

Though Wix made Skanska’s reasoning sound simple, Bourlakas said the impact of the company’s donation will be far-reaching.

“What this is going to do for us is a huge deal, for everybody that is around this (tool)box that believes in and wants to have their life changed through the power of work. When you’ve got a career, that’s when your life truly changes, and not just your life but everybody that you come into contact with — your children’s lives,” he explained. “For Skanska to be a part of that — that’s inspirational.”

Style with a purpose


Would your business like to partner with Goodwill to help change lives in the community?

Call Goodwill Career Solutions at (615) 346-1841 or email training@givegw.org.

For more information or to apply for Goodwill’s Construction Training program, contact:
Irvin Terrell at (615) 346-1816
Tim Kahn at (615) 815-5017

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