Yesterday I went to the Columbus Goodwill Industries Extraordinary People Lunch. It’s an event at which Goodwill recognizes three extraordinary people who have used Goodwill programs to improve their lives — and, through their spirit and positive attitude and effort, have also improved the lives of everyone around them. From the songs sung by a choir of individuals who participate in Goodwill programs at the outset of the program to the video in which the stories of the three individuals who were being recognized was told, it was an inspiring, uplifting event.
As I watched the program, I was struck by the consistency of focus of Columbus Goodwill Industries, which has been a part of our community for 80 years. Based on the message “a hand up, not a hand-out,” it’s all about the value of work and a job and giving people a chance to contribute. For each of the three people who were celebrated as Extraordinary People, having a job and the opportunities created by Goodwill and its programs has been a key part of their lives and the pride they feel.
A focus on the value of work may strike some people as old-fashioned, but I think it’s a refreshing and affirming message in a world where our approach too often seems oriented to a hand-out rather than a hand-up. Hand-outs are easy, but developing and implementing training and other programs to actually equip people for the working world, and then find them opportunities to use their personal skills and capabilities, are hard. Credit should go to Goodwill Industries for providing programs and opportunities that literally can be life-changing — and for sending an important message about work that we should always remember.