Tacoma Goodwill marks Milgard Work Center anniversary

Tacoma Goodwill celebrated the first anniversary of its Milgard Work Opportunity Center with a “Together Thursday” event Thursday for the Tacoma-Pierce County Chamber of Commerce.

According to Goodwill President & CEO Terry A. Hayes, there is a lot to celebrate, such as a growing partnership for at-risk young adults; success of a new-technology Distance Learning theater; and serving more than 60 percent more people over the previous year. “The Milgard Work Opportunity Center is the cornerstone of our present and future to change lives and help more people,” Hayes said. “Goodwill has created a new community asset that offers us more ways to fulfill our mission and help people get jobs.”

The event took place at the Milgard Center, 714 S. 27th St., in Tacoma. Participants in the agency’s Culinary Skills program prepared refreshments.

Goodwill held a public dedication of the four-story, 63,000-square-foot center on Sept. 23, 2009. Gov. Chris Gregoire, a representative from the Puyallup Tribe of Indians and Associated Ministries, along with hundreds of community members, were on hand for the event. Among the successes of the facility over the past year:

— REACH (Resources for Education And Career Help) started as a partnership of about a dozen agencies that created a national model for a one-stop service center for at-risk young adults 16-24 years of age. Today, the centerpiece of the Milgard Center now has a partnership with 20 agencies that has enrolled more than 1,700 individuals — nearly triple what was initially expected;

— Distance Learning Theater, which expanded training regionally to Goodwill work opportunity centers in Yakima and Longview. A partnership with Tacoma Community College created a “Career Pipeline” program to teach warehouse and logistics training;

— Five times the existing classroom space for new and expanded programs. Among the programs: an Adaptive Computer Lab for people with disabilities; a new culinary arts program and barista training program. The result: About 9,500 people will be served this year, with 6,500 coming from Pierce County residents – or more than all the people Goodwill in 2009;

— The $21.7 million Milgard facility recently earned LEED Gold certification from the U.S. Green Building Council. The investment has saved on water, energy and promoted public transportation, Hayes said.

Tacoma Goodwill was founded in 1921 – making next year its 90th anniversary. When it opened its former building in 1965, the agency had three retail stores and served 500 participants. This year, Goodwill will serve about 9,500 people and operates 26 retail stores across 15 counties. The new building also includes a public restaurant, the Neighborhood Bistro, open 7 a.m.-1:30 p.m. Monday through Friday; and The Coffee Buzz, a coffee bar serving Starbucks coffee, open at 7 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday. The first-floor entrance to the Milgard center, with REACH and The Coffee Buzz, is open 7 a.m.-7 p.m., Monday-Friday. Organizations have also made use of the center’s fourth-floor Board Room — including, most recently, the Pierce County Council, which held an in-district meeting earlier this week. For information about use of the room or to reach Goodwill, contact (253) 573-6500.