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June 22, 2017

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Goodwill’s new center helps the unemployed find and train for jobs

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Mikayla Whitmore

A look inside the Good Will Career Connection Center in Las Vegas, Nev. on May 4, 2017.

Good Will Career Connection Center

A look inside the Good Will Career Connection Center in Las Vegas, Nev. on May 4, 2017. Launch slideshow »
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These 10 ZIP codes with unemployment rates higher than 4.8 percent account for 71 percent of the unemployed in Clark County; 89101, 89106, 89119, 89104, 89109, 89146 and 89107 are served by Goodwill’s career center at the Boulevard mall. They represent 51 percent of Clark County’s unemployed.

Unemployment rate by ZIP code

• 89101: 15.25% (8,024 of 52,617)

• 89106: 13.06% (3,339 of 25,563)

• 89131: 11.21% (1,230 of 10,968)

• 89119: 9.27% (4,514 of 48,693)

• 89104: 8.88% (3,532 of 39,779)

• 89109: 8.75% (3,575 of 40,855)

• 89115: 8.60% (4,434 of 51,561)

• 89146: 8.26% (1,509 of 18,265)

• 89031: 7.70% (4,995 of 64,876)

• 89107: 7.56% (2,735 of 36,180)

Some hit the Boulevard mall to look for amusement at the interactive aquarium or shop at the stores. Others look for help.

Goodwill of Southern Nevada has a store in the mall, as well as the organization’s newest Career Connections Center. The location is key, not only because it’s approachable but also because it’s the epicenter of seven target ZIP codes where people are struggling to make ends meet.

Las Vegas’ unemployment rate dropped from 6.1 percent to 4.8 percent last year, but one in 20 Southern Nevadans remains out of work, totaling 53,637 Clark County residents who are unemployed. More than half live in the areas surrounding the mall, according to data compiled by zipatlas.com. These are the long-term unemployed, explained Goodwill of Southern Nevada Fund Development Director Magda Hirsch, typically minorities, who face the most barriers to pulling themselves out of poverty.

The Career Connections Center supports these at-risk populations by providing free job training and placement services. In the year since it opened, the center has made an impact. Last year, it served 2,461 Nevadans, placed 724 people in jobs, conducted 81 work-readiness workshops and organized 15 hiring events with 28 employers.

“The most challenging aspect of my job is realizing we’re not always going to be able to help everybody; it’s a give and take, a two-way street,” said Laura Hinojosa, a Goodwill career coach. “We’re not a hand out, we’re a hand up.”

For every dollar donated to Goodwill of Southern Nevada to fund such services, the individuals helped into jobs earn $33 in wages, according to the 2016 Community Impact report. Staffers like Hinojosa meet with clients one-on-one to develop personal employment plans, and they host mock interviews, offer résumé-building assistance and serve as a pipeline to hiring events and job fairs.

The center also provides daily job postings and online job listings, workshops covering a variety of job-seeker topics, bus passes, gas cards, clothing, shoes, vouchers for haircuts and access to web-enabled computers, copiers, fax machines and telephones.

Hinojosa says she sees a lot of people who are homeless, just got out of jail or prison, or struggle with technology. And she often hears that connecting the unemployed with jobs gives them purpose.

“Sometimes people say, ‘I don’t care if I don’t get that disability check anymore, I just need purpose back in my life,’  ” she said. “It makes people feel valuable; it makes people feel needed.”

Goodwill also helps Career Connections clients find jobs through the Veteran Integration Program, Workforce Innovation & Opportunity Act and Student Work Experience Program.

“So many people don’t know we exist here, they just know the retail side, so my message would be: We’re here, we exist, come find us,” Hinojosa said. “There’s a lot we can do if you just walk through those doors.”

How you can help

1. Donate clothes (visit goodwill.vegas to find your nearest donation center).

2. Shop in stores or online to bolster proceeds that support social services.

3. Become an individual or corporate funder or foundation partner.

4. Hire Goodwill Job Seekers (partner with the organization to be matched with qualified employees).

5. Become a partner employer among 800 other local companies receiving on-the-job training funds and a presence at hiring events for free.

6. Register as a Goodwill.jobs employer to post jobs and search résumés from thousands of candidates.

7. Sponsor a donation drive among employees of your business.

8. Host an Attended Donation Drive, in which a few parking spots will be turned into a donation center.

9. Volunteer.

10. Sponsor a Goodwill event.

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