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Goodwill reopens Pekin employment resource

Goodwill's Pekin location at 3245 Court Street reopened their Community Employment Center last week.
Goodwill Industries of Central Illinois
Goodwill's Pekin location at 3245 Court Street reopened their Community Employment Center last week.

Goodwill Industries of Central Illinois reopened their Community Employment Center in Pekin last week. The center provides free one-on-one meetings to help residents find a job that could become a career.

The center closed in 2020 because of reduced usage during the COVID-19 pandemic. Assistant Director of Mission Services Johanna Wagner says conversations with community members during other outreach events demonstrated a need for the service.

“What we found is that there are a lot of job seekers and a lot of clients within the Pekin community that are needing our services,” she said. “So we decided that we were going to extend our offerings in reopening that facility.”

The process starts with a meeting with a Goodwill employee to identify barriers to the job search, Wagner said these can include needs like childcare, grocery assistance or transportation. After identifying barriers, Goodwill can help clients get in touch with the appropriate resources.

“Until we can checkmark those off and get them assistance,” said Wagner. “Then they can dedicate and devote the time to the job search.”

Next, clients take an assessment, as well as discussing their goals with a Goodwill employee. After the assessment, Goodwill gets clients set up with further training, equipment or certifications they might need. Wagner said there’s no set curriculum, and with around 500 community hiring partners in a wide variety of industries, the preparation needed can differ drastically.

“We want to make sure that we’re doing all the right things for them,” she said. “And that we’re taking care of them the best we can.”

Last year, among the 22 counties Goodwill Industries of Central Illinois covers, more than 1,100 people enrolled in the employment program. Over 975 of them found work and stayed at the job for more than 60 days.

Assistant Director of Communications Craig Armstrong said the program is made possible by donations and proceeds from Goodwill thrift stores, as well as larger donations from partners like Heart of Illinois United Way.

“We wouldn’t exist without the donor,” said Armstrong. “When someone donates, we sell those donations. And then that funding is taken from that for these different programs.”

Wagner says the organization also sends out a weekly “job leads” list to all the clients enrolled in the program.

Right now, the center at Goodwill’s 3245 Court Street location is only staffed on Mondays. More information is available at 309-682-1113, or click here.

Collin Schopp is a reporter at WCBU. He joined the station in 2022.