01 Jun Hundreds Attend Grand Opening for the New Clarksville Goodwill
More Than Seventy Participate in Job Fair with 15 Employers at Needmore Road Facility
The line of people waiting to get into Clarksville’s newest Goodwill stretched from the front door around the side of the building. Most came for door prizes and bargains on merchandise, but none expected to become part of the ribbon-cutting ceremony.
That’s what happened, however, when Matthew Bourlakas, president and CEO of Goodwill Industries of Middle Tennessee, abandoned his microphone stand and walked up and down the line, addressing shoppers directly.
“This is our third store in Clarksville area, and it’s only possible because you all believe in and support Goodwill, and the mission of Goodwill — putting people to work,” he told the shoppers. “Last year, because of your support, 9,558 people found a job.
Support was certainly strong at Friday’s Grand Opening of the 2001 Needmore Road Goodwill store, Career Solutions center and Donations Express Center. Doors opened at 8:15 a.m., immediately following the ribbon-cutting hosted by the Clarksville Area Chamber of Commerce. By 9 a.m., Goodwill employees had already given away 500 free tote bags, and shoppers were still streaming in.
Ashley Hyde, the manager of the new store, cut the ceremonial ribbon Friday. She is a self-described Goodwill “success story.”
Hyde had been a stay-at-home mother of two children for four years when, in 2011, her husband became disabled and was no longer able to work. She went to a Goodwill Career Solutions Center, where she was quickly hired as a part-time sales associate in Goodwill’s Springfield store.
Hyde was promoted numerous times, finally becoming acting manager of Goodwill’s largest store near Rivergate Mall in Nashville. In March, she was asked to tell her story to Goodwill’s assembled store managers.
“That was my moment, where I realized I had done something I never thought I could do,” Hyde recalled. “I initially thought Goodwill was a temporary solution to our problems, but in reality, Goodwill saved our family. We are a product of Goodwill.”
Among the first shoppers in the door Friday was Lettie Harrison of the nearby Cumberland Furnace community, who called Goodwill “one of the greatest things that ever happened in Clarksville.”
Harrison said she shops regularly at Goodwill to purchase shoes, clothes and household necessaries for people in need. She donates many of the items to people receiving addiction treatment at Lighthouse Mission Ministries and to others who have lost their belongings in home fires.
“I just buy things for people that need help or are down on their luck,” she said. “What I can’t use I turn around and bring back. I just like doing it.”
At the Donations Express Center on the side the building, Nkechi Enwereuzor, who lives less than a mile away, was handing an attendant several large garbage bags filled with clothing.
“I’ve been donating to Goodwill for the last 10 years,” she said. “I just think it’s a good way to recycle the stuff that you have and give someone else an opportunity to use it. … (Goodwill) charges a minimal price and then uses that to assist the community.”
At the Goodwill Career Solutions center, Career Counselor Leslie Coffey was preparing for a big job fair featuring 15 local employers.
Coffey is a former transition counselor from the Career & Alumni Program at Clarksville’s U.S. Army base, making her a natural fit to help Goodwill provide training and employment services in an area with a population high in ex-military personnel.
“We are really excited about this location,” Coffey said. “We’ve already had multiple clients coming in the door that are transitioning out of the military and have had a difficult time finding work. We look to get them placed and get them help. They have skills they don’t even realize that employers are looking for.”
One such client was Ricardo Millan-Cepero, a veteran who served the military for three years but has been out of work for six months. He lives just down the road from the new Goodwill.
Millan-Cepero was one of more than 115 people who attended the job fair. He was particularly hopeful about discussions he had with technology, communications and trucking companies.
“I know from experience once you get out (of the military) it’s hard to find a job,” he said. “Places like Goodwill that help everybody find a job are a good thing to have.”
Hours at the new Goodwill store and donations site are 8 a.m.-8 p.m. Monday-Saturday and 10 a.m.-8 p.m. on Sundays. The store’s phone number is (931) 241-4599. The new Goodwill Career Solutions center is open from 8 a.m.-4 p.m. Monday-Friday and can be reached at (931) 241-4730.
About Goodwill Industries of Middle Tennessee, Inc.
For more than 55 years Goodwill Industries of Middle Tennessee has provided job training and job placement free of charge to people with disabilities or other barriers to employment through the sale of donated items. In 2014, Goodwill served 28,159 people in Middle and West Tennessee and placed 9.558 people in jobs. More information can be obtained online at www.giveit2goodwill.org or by calling 1-800-545-9231.