August 18 – Goodwill of the Finger Lakes hosted its inaugural Thrift Crawl and Summer Social: Sustainability Under the Stars. The two nights of festivities focused on engaging the community and promoting ongoing sustainability initiatives. Proceeds raised support the organization’s community-focused programs, including Goodwill Vision Enterprises (GVE, formerly known as ABVI), 211/LIFE LINE and the Good Neighbor Program.
Goodwill of the Finger Lakes will host a special “We are Goodwill” fundraising event on Friday to benefit the agency’s Association for the Blind and Visually Impaired and 211/Life Line.
In addition to an online silent auction, raffle giveaway and entertainment from comedian Sky Sands, the event will feature an awards ceremony based on local organizations’ response and community impact during the last year. Goodwill CEO Jennifer Lake will present the 2021 Community Partner Awards to Rochester Area Community Foundation and United Way of Greater Rochester and the Finger Lakes. CEOs Jennifer Leonard and Jaime Saunders, respectively, will be on hand to accept the awards.
“Last year our annual event was hosted virtually for the first time ever and it was a great success. But we are so excited to bring our community and Goodwill supporters together in person at the Strath for this year’s ‘We are Goodwill’ event,” said Goodwill’s Vice President of Community Engagement Jennifer Boutte. “The purpose of this event is to celebrate the work done by our Goodwill team and our community that supports our mission: to prepare and empower people with barriers to independence to be self-sufficient and contribute to their families and communities.”
Goodwill of the Finger Lakes has received $10 million from philanthropist MacKenzie Scott.
“We are absolutely thrilled — and humbled — to share that our organization has received a $10 million gift from Ms. Scott,” said Goodwill CEO Jennifer Lake. “The gift is the result of our mission, our work, our team, our impact and our potential. It is by far the largest single donation in our 100-plus year history.”
Scott is an American novelist who is perhaps most known for her marriage and divorce from Amazon.com Founder Jeff Bezos. As one of the most wealthy women in the world, Scott in May 2019 signed the Giving Pledge, a charitable giving campaign in which she willingly committed to giving away most of her wealth to charity over her life or in her will.
“Because of Ms. Scott’s generosity and belief in Goodwill of the Finger Lakes, we have an opportunity to truly innovate, invest and support our community on a broader level,” Lake said. “With this extraordinary philanthropic gift, we will be able to fuel our community-based programs and social enterprise, provide job opportunities and continue to grow our footprint and impact in our region. Most importantly, we will remain true to our mission: To prepare and empower people with barriers to independence to be self-sufficient and contribute to their families and communities.”
Lake noted that Goodwill’s board of directors will lead a process to develop a multi-year strategic plan. Together with community input, the organization plans to determine the best use and investment for the funding.
“In the shorter term, as our own manufacturing, foodservice and retail social enterprises continue to be challenged financially because of the COVID-19 pandemic, this donation gives us the confidence to continue investing in the programs and services that our community depends on, especially during these difficult times,” Lake said.
Scott’s 2020 charitable giving totaled $5.8 billion, one of the largest annual distributions by a private individual to working charities. In December, Scott gifted the United Way of Greater Rochester with $20 million in unrestricted funds. Goodwill at the time was notified it, too, would receive funding, but the dollar amount was unknown.
“This is an extraordinary moment for our organization and our community. Ms. Scott’s gift is an affirmation of the hard work and effectiveness of the entire Goodwill of the Finger Lakes family. I am thrilled for Jennifer and her team to be able to put this transformational gift to work for our community,” said Goodwill Board Chair Susan Kitchen.
Added Lake: “Together, Goodwill of the Finger Lakes and United Way of Greater Rochester are committed to investing the gift back into our community. Ms. Scott has given me — has given all of us — a renewed sense of hope and confidence in our future. We will make our community better for it. This was her hand-up, just like Mr. Helms gave to so many in the early days of Goodwill.”
Goodwill of the Finger Lakes will move its Clearance Center from its location near Rochester’s Public Market to its warehouse in Henrietta. Until now, the Clearance Center and warehouse storage were in two locations. The move will help the organization in terms of efficiency, access and finance.
“We really think our shoppers are going to love this new location,” Goodwill of the Finger Lakes CEO Jennifer Lake said. “Being centrally located in Henrietta with plenty of parking and a better entrance, we hope this will serve our current shoppers and help get new Goodwill shoppers in the door. I can’t say it enough: When you shop at Goodwill, you support the entire community with our 211 Lifeline and ABVI mission programs.”
On average, thousands of shoppers visit Goodwill’s Clearance Center each week, with a few hundred shoppers per day. The nonprofit organization’s Clearance Center is one of its most popular locations. The new center gives shoppers twice as much space as its older location.
The Goodwill Clearance Center features merchandise previously offered in Goodwill’s traditional retail stores. Merchandise will be rotated throughout the day to continually provide new options to customers. Pricing is all based on the pound, with a significant range in items, from shoes to houseware items, to furniture and back-to-school or Halloween attire.
The new space is nearly double the size of the current location and has more parking. The entrance has two ground-level doors with no stairs, which provides easier and fast access. The layout of the Henrietta store is easier to navigate. All shopping carts are brand new and there will be more registers for an easier buying and checkout experience.
“Many shoppers use public transportation, and there is a bus route that has a drop-off and pickup right in front of our new building,” Lake said. “This is definitely something that made this new location attractive, too.”
The new Goodwill Clearance Center does not have a donation door, and donated items are not accepted at the new location. However, donations can be taken to Donation Centers across the region.
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