Goodwill adds store, training center
• Photo gallery: 'Ohana Career and Learning Center of Kapolei
By David Waite
A dedication ceremony yesterday for a new Goodwill Industries training center and retail store in Kapolei turned into a testimonial by community leaders about the all the good that the charity has done for thousands of people in Hawai'i during the past 50 years.
A maile lei was untied shortly before 11 a.m. at the $13 million 'Ohana Career and Learning Center, and a few minutes later, Honolulu City Prosecutor Peter Carlisle snapped up the first of what will be thousands of clothing bargains to come — a pair of boxer shorts for $2.08, including tax.
"I go to Goodwill all the time," Carlisle said. "They have great clothes, great bargains and provide a phenomenal service. The people who work here put the 'Good' in Goodwill."
Goodwill operates eight stores in Hawai'i and has 12 service locations. The new Kapolei center on Lauwiliwili Street is expected to provide training to about 1,600 people per year.
Laura Robertson, president and CEO of Goodwill Industries in Hawai'i, said the dedication ceremony was about more than opening a building or picking up a bargain: It was about Goodwill being better able to help people build careers and get into the workforce.
Those who turn to Goodwill for career training have "barriers to employment" such as various disabilities or are attempting to make the transition from public assistance, she said, and a large percentage of clients are youth at risk.
HOPE FOR THE FUTURE
During his remarks, U.S. Sen. Daniel Inouye, D-Hawai'i, quoted from the Declaration of Independence, which proclaims "all men are created equal."
"Yet we know that some are born with better minds, some in better physical shape than others," Inouye said.
"This organization tries to equalize everything and it gives those who have lost their hope, hope for the future."
Lt. Gov. James "Duke" Aiona told Goodwill officials and workers that they "put people back on their feet again. You will succeed because you invest in people," he said.
Aiona drew a laugh from the audience when he made the observation that since the new facility will accept new and used clothing and other donations, people in the Kapolei area will no longer have to use "that small little box by Home Depot," referring to a Goodwill collection bin.
Mayor Mufi Hannemann noted the city provided $2 million in grant money from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development toward land acquisition for the training center, and another $2 million toward construction.
Hannemann credited Goodwill executives and others who worked on the project with the foresight to include a children's playroom so youngsters will be safe while their parents undergo training.
City Council Chairman Todd Apo, whose Leeward Coast district includes Kapolei and a high concentration of Native Hawaiians, said about one-third of clients to whom Goodwill provides services are of Hawaiian ancestry.
On that same theme, Oswald Stender, a trustee of the Office of Hawaiian Affairs, said that when Goodwill fundraisers approached the agency to ask for support for the new training center, he didn't see an immediate connection.
$13 MILLION RAISED
In examining the request further, the OHA trustees learned that 37 percent of the high school dropouts in Hawai'i and "at risk kids" are Native Hawaiian.
He said Goodwill counsels those youths and helps them get high school equivalency diplomas.
"You help develop their self-esteem," Stender said.
Joel Matsunaga, CEO and executive vice president of Hawaii BioEnergy and Goodwill's board chairman, said $13 million was raised for the project in less than three years, an apparent reflection of the recognition in the community of the organization's good works.