Celebration marks Tacoma Goodwill job center opening

Gov. Chris Gregoire and Tacoma Mayor Bill Baarsma joined more than 300 people in praising the new Milgard Work Opportunity Center, which opened Sept. 14 at 714 S. 27th St. in Tacoma. The $21.7 million, 63,000-square-foot building is a LEED Gold-qualified “green” building that will support the agency’s initiative to triple services in its 15-county service area.

Gov. Gregoire said while most people know Goodwill for donating clothes or shopping at stores, “every purchase furthers the goal of breaking down barriers to employment for people with disadvantages or disabilities.” She said she was confident the state will emerge stronger from “this Great Recession” as a result of the work of agencies such as Goodwill.

“Tacoma Goodwill is a great example of how communities can come together to help those in need,” said Gov. Gregoire. “This truly is a center of opportunity, a place of dignity and respect.”

Mayor Baarsma emphasized how much Goodwill means to Tacoma and proclaimed the day in honor of the agency.

“Goodwill serves as a true community leader and an anchor for growth in this part of town,” said Mayor Baarsma. “The Work Opportunity Center couldn’t be opening at a better time . . . working with people to better themselves which will in return improve our community.”

Tacoma Goodwill CEO Terry A. Hayes promised to double the agency’s efforts to live up to its mission of changing lives by helping people with disabilities or other barriers go to work. “We will use this gift to give hope, build confidence and give people skills for a better future here in our community, because jobs change lives,” Hayes said.

Connie McCloud, an elder with the Puyallup Tribe of Indians, and Rev. Chris Morton, executive director of Associated Ministries in Tacoma, each blessed the facility.
LaTasha Smith, who attended Goodwill’s “Key To Change” financial literacy class, said the new center is “inspiring.”

“It makes me want to work harder and do better,” she said. “There’s a different air in there. It feels like somewhere I want to be and grow. When someone’s totally defeated, this is what they need.” Smith said things changed for her after taking the class. Now, she said, she can set goals instead of hiding from bill collectors. “It’s absolutely life changing — and that’s just one program. If there’s anyone you know who’s struggling, point them in this direction. You just have to walk in the door and ask for help and it’s here.”

LaTasha Smith talks with Gov. Chris Gregoire and Tacoma Goodwill CEO Terry A. Hayes during Goodwill's dedication ceremony Wednesday of its new Milgard Work Opportunity Center. Smith, who graduated from Goodwill's financial literacy program, described the help she received as life changing. (PHOTO COURTESY TACOMA GOODWILL)