I started my week with a generous invitation to tour the Tacoma Goodwill Milgard Center, Outlet & Online sales center. I wrote questions the night before preparing for a typical Q & A session but what I was met with was a warm welcome from their Media Relations/PR Manager, Matthew (Matt) Erlich. And even though I had done my fact homework I didn’t yet understand this organization and the community that surrounds it… but that was about to change.
The Goodwill was started by a man with a HEART and a plan, Edgar James Helms who believed people needed “a HAND-UP, not (just) a hand-out” and started employing people to mend donated items for resale back in Boston in 1902. A concept that has continued to bring jobs (and more importantly HOPE) to ANY person for more than 100 years!
A concept that has locally grown within the Tacoma Goodwill since 1921.
We started our tour in the BUZZ coffee shop, a barista-training program housed under the REACH program for young adults, just one of the many programs offered. This tour is starting to take shape in my mind… the shape of a community centered around helping people work no matter what their age, sex, ability is… this is getting good!
Then, from the BUZZ coffee shop, we took a walk outside. Outside not only because it was a pretty day in Tacoma but also because I had been lucky enough to see the work of world-renown Artist/botanist Patrick Blanc back in Paris and I knew that the Tacoma Goodwill had Patrick’s first exterior piece in America. The “Living Wall” is at the entrance of their REACH center and just absolutely beautiful!
Now while Thrifting, Garage-saleing, Swap-meeting, etc. has been in my blood my entire life… I make no mistake to mention time and time again that I am an avid Thrifter for MANY reasons, most importantly reducing environmental impact. So to know that a world-renown Eco artist was commissioned by our local Goodwill was a HUGE GREEN-STAR in my eyes because not only do they support reducing waste but they are putting their money where they mouth is with their art work!
Okay… we are off to a good start here! I’ve been met in a very comfortable setting, more examples of this organization helping it’s citizens are becoming known to me, I’ve just witnessed world-class Eco art…what could be next in this adventure?
So we start touring the Milgard Center and it brings up many questions in my mind. No, not questions that I had prepared the night before… these were questions just flying off the cuff at every turn because every turn was revealing more than I ever knew possible. You just can’t prepare for these kind of insights; like their use of technology with “theaters” live-streaming the Tacoma class discussions between both Yakima and Longview. Their workstations that accommodate any person’s ability with options like voice-command software or large-font capabilities. The list went on and on as we walked the halls. I was starting to burst with excitement for the next bit of information to be uncovered… for that next level of this THRIFT community was unfolding before my eyes with each step!
So, let’s just say that the tour of the Milgard Center left me with so much information, so much interest into this organization, that I could NOT explain it all in one post. Which means I will be writing more about the Tacoma Goodwill for sure!
But WAIT! I’m not done with this post yet!
(Yes, it will be forever-more named the “GOODY ROOM” by me! But I will also accept “Candy Store“, “Goody Store”, and even the ultimate “When I pass-away from this Beautiful Existence *ha-ha* I’m going to donate a personally-monogramed-legacy-park-bench so that my spirit may sit and drool over every morsel of awesomeness that enters these walls forever more!“)
THAT’S how much you need to keep reading this post!
By this time, with all the downloading of the Tacoma Goodwill, my anticipation level is way past OVERLOAD! We walk outside to the old Goodwill offices (which now house the outlet center and online sales) and I catch a couple of cold-fresh-air-breaths that do me good!
We open the doors of the outlet center and now my mind turns to THRIFT mode! We only take a couple of minutes there since we both express the ability to spend hours rummaging so we take a walk to the grand finale of my day (besides the Funky Monkey sandwich in the Neighborhood Bistro that was super yummy)… the ONLINE SHOPPING CENTER!
I mentioned earlier that I’ve grown up around Garage-sales, Swap-meets and Thrift-stores but this unassuming building, the Tacoma Goodwill’s old offices, is a MECCA of GOODIES like I have not seen before! In these hallow-walls are the people behind the pictures and descriptions of all the best picks from all their donations! Did you say ALL the BEST of the BEST of their donations??? YEP!!! All the items in online auctions through Amazon, eBay and ShopGoodwill.com are housed here.
I got to see where the candy (AKA the BEST donated items) gets dropped off and I even got to sneek a peek at the coveted jewelry safe! OMG thrifters! All I can say is OMG! I want my dream job (besides being a Eco-designer turned philanthropist who saves orphaned children from atrocious crimes like lack of LOVE!) to be working in this adult CANDY STORE! But alas… I will just have to wait my turn for such an honor so in the mean time I will be searching for that perfect park-bench to have my legacy engraved into it for the corner!
So… with all that happened on this day of days, at a local organization that showed me all it had to offer, I will close out this post. But I will come back to cover more of the Tacoma Goodwill because one posting is not enough to express the amounts of HEART this organization holds for their community!
I LOVE being a Thrifter even more now! Thanks Matt and Tacoma Goodwill for the tour!