Community Benefit Stories
Partnership with Goodwill Industries
Froedtert Hospital is a major business partner with Goodwill Industries of Southeastern Wisconsin Inc., which is well-known for its retail store and donation centers and human service programs to benefit people with physical, mental and developmental disabilities.
For the last 17 years, Froedtert has contracted with the local Goodwill commercial laundry services facility to provide opportunity and meaningful jobs, with a current volume of business that contributes to 40 full-time equivalent positions. In 2006, Goodwill client-employees sorted, cleaned and processed 4 million pounds of laundry for Froedtert.
Both Scottie Thigpen, 42, and Wendy Mollenhauer, 61, have worked with Goodwill laundry services for more than a year. Although major challenges previously compromised their stability, they have experienced renewal through life-affirming support and the privilege of work.
Thigpen was addicted to alcohol and drugs for much of his life. Mollenhauer previously suffered from severe depression that required hospitalization at some point. Both say the benefits of work make it possible to support themselves and contribute to their sense of self-worth.
With more than 18 months of sobriety, Thigpen has his own apartment, a vehicle and a checking and savings account for the first time in his life. “Goodwill was willing to give me the opportunity to work and get ongoing support for my recovery,” Thigpen said. “My lifestyle changed when I began being around people who are more positive, who’ve been willing to help guide me, and because I wanted to better myself.”
Mollenhauer’s world disintegrated with a divorce in 1996 after a 30-year marriage, a time when her primary identity had been as a full-time homemaker and mother of three. She initially felt helpless about the prospect of supporting herself financially, without a college education and limited work experience. Since she began working at Goodwill, Mollenhauer has been able to manage stress and life better due in large part because of the extra assistance offered to Goodwill employees. “I continue to work on managing my depression, and the supervisors help us in many ways,” she said. “This is a very nice job, and there’s a lot of pride in maintaining my independence, a great freedom, even at my age. I have a much more positive outlook on things.”
Now in its 33rd year of operation, the Goodwill commercial laundry facility is one of the largest in Wisconsin, and currently processes a combined total of 13.2 million pounds of laundry for Froedtert, other healthcare and hospitality companies and the military.
Nearly 60 of the 120 people employed in laundry services and more than 1,400 of the total Southeastern Wisconsin Goodwill’s 3,313 employees have significant mental illness or various physical, developmental or psychosocial disabilities, according to Robert A. Schneeberg, vice-President of Work Services for the region.
Orangetta Kelly, the Goodwill Workforce Development manager, said that in addition to providing skill development, employment training and job placement for individuals, Goodwill offers a unique employee assistance program. The purpose is to provide extra psychosocial support to those with disabilities that might otherwise impede their ability to function consistently well in the mainstream workforce. “We help them resolve conflicts, and we act as advocates for clients who need help with problems both inside and outside of work,” Kelly said.
In 2006, Froedtert Hospital received a Goodwill Power Partner Award, which is given to companies that advance the mission of Goodwill by providing substantial opportunities for individuals with disabilities or other major barriers to employment.
Beyond the value of cost-effective and quality services for Froedtert, the impact of the long-term partnership with Goodwill goes beyond direct economic benefits derived by both organizations. “We’ve had the opportunity to consider other vendors, but felt it was important to support employment in our local community,” said Johnny Guyton, director of Environmental Services at Froedtert. “Our partnership with Goodwill is a win-win situation.”
Carla Washington, manager of Community Partnerships for Froedtert, said the community benefits through the commitment and connection between people and places that seek to promote health and quality of life for diverse individuals and families. The investment provides a ripple effect for business and communities. The benefits are demonstrated in the lives of people like Scottie Thigpen and Wendy Mollenhauer, who provide labor and services of value despite ongoing challenges, and whose lives are enriched by the opportunity to work and gain life-affirming rewards.
Although many local Goodwill employees have health coverage through social security disability benefits, many take advantage of the health insurance plan offered as a Goodwill benefit, and utilize Froedtert Hospital for medical care. “Froedtert is the No. 1 health facility serving our people — there are numerous visits to Froedtert when they are in need of services,” said Gary Goll, director of Linen Services at the Goodwill corporate office. “It’s definitely a win-win situation for Froedtert and Goodwill. We’re promoting health and quality of life through real work and jobs for those with disabilities and barriers, with positive outcomes.”
Last Review Date: Oct. 23, 2009
Online Editor(s): Richard Petre