“There's another fellow," muttered Scrooge; who overheard him: "my clerk, with fifteen shillings a week, and a wife and family, talking about a merry Christmas. I'll retire to Bedlam."
- Charles Dickens ‘A Christmas Carol’
First, you may be wondering why I am including this quote as it still certainly doesn’t feel like the holidays in Indiana with the unseasonably warm weather we have been having, but alas the holiday has come and gone. I recently decided I was going to read Charles Dickens classic, “A Christmas Carol,” this holiday season. I’ve nearly seen every film adaptation, but had never taken the time to read the novella. Now after having finished it, I sit here and reflect on the themes within the story as well as the work I am involved with for Goodwill Industries of Central Indiana. I can’t help but find parallels between poverty and generosity, hope versus hopelessness, and connecting past, present, and future. I believe anyone working in direct services can relate to this image in the quote above to the people we serve; individuals with families to take care of, trying to earn a living wage, and maintain a positive attitude despite the circumstance and barriers they face. In a sense, the Cratchit family shares many qualities of families of Indiana we serve. While acknowledging the unfortunate nature of such circumstances, we are connected to resources, as well as one another to make a change from poverty to economic stability.
As the Indiana Assets and Opportunity Network continues to grow, it’s important to take time to reflect on the great work we’re all doing, as well as focus on expanding our efforts, resources, and sharing the message of the Network to other community leaders and agencies. 2015 has been a great year for Goodwill of Central Indiana. We have focused our efforts on a two generational approach. In 2015 we have seen a lot of growth in a number of areas and with our new C.E.O., Kent Kramer, at the helm, we continue to build on the good work. Our Nurse Family Partnership program has served over 1,300 mothers and their families since its inception, and they are expecting the 1,000th baby to be born early next year. They have also expanded to Delaware and Madison Counties, as well as Tippecanoe County.
Two new Excel Centers opened earlier this year and have already graduated students. To date, we have graduated over 2,100 students from our Excel Centers and the Indianapolis Metropolitan High School. We have provided hundreds of certifications and trainings. The certifications offered also continue to expand, which has led to countless employment opportunities. In 2015 across Mission Advancement, including TalentSource, Goodwill Guides, Disability Services, and a number of other programs we have placed nearly 950 people in employment with an average starting wage of $10.00 an hour. We opened retail stores in Noblesville, Bloomington, Columbus, and Stones Crossing. We are slated to open more sites next year. As you can see, there have been a lot of things to celebrate and a lot more successes that I don’t have the time to share, but like any good stewards of change we recognize the work has only just begun.
It is great to reminisce on the many successes of this past year and embrace the present while we can. However, what excites me the most, and I imagine those involved in the Network, is what’s to come in our future. As we define roles, construct new goals, and identify opportunities I believe the sky is the limit as far as the positive impact we can have on Indiana residents. Thinking back on the themes of “A Christmas Carol,” there are many valuable lessons to take away. It’s important to reflect on the past. What we have done right. What we could have done better. It’s important to examine the present. What is working? What connections do we currently have. And most importantly, that we allow both past and present to influence and help guide us as we progress toward the future. Ebenezer Scrooge’s experience transformed him from a greedy misanthrope to a benevolent citizen whose change impacts all of those within his community. He is just one individual, but his transformation touches many lives with a renewed kindness, benevolence, and interest in the well being of his fellow men and women. Imagine all the lives we can touch and change by working together and growing our network. There is a lot of hope, promise, and growth to look forward to in 2016.
David Dalton – TalentSource Employment Specialist/Goodwill Industries of Central Indiana
Steering Committee Member