ROGERS, Ark. (KNWA) — A new Goodwill Outlet Store in Rogers is housing a career center, offering services to people who were incarcerated and need help getting back into the workforce.
The number of Arkansans in prison is on the rise. The incarceration rate is now sixth in the nation.
Brenda Stringfellow is the re-entry program coordinator for Goodwill.
“The recidivism rate is so high because clients are coming out of prison and learning — I can’t live how I was living, but how do I live?” Stringfellow said. “I myself went through the teo program, so I can easily say my employers saved me life.”
The Transitional Employment Opportunities program program, or TEO, is a 16-week program for those who were incarcerated or with a background that’s hindering them from moving forward.
“We focus a lot on job readiness and character building, coaching, life skills, and in those 16 weeks we’ve seen dramatic changes,” Stringfellow said.
When you buy an item at Goodwill, 90% of the profit goes toward these programs to help get people on their feet, and give them an extra confidence boost.
“We’ve seen people coming in making minimum wage, and leave making $20 an hour,” Stringfellow said.
Goodwill also offers many other free programs, like job search assistance, resume preparation, interview coaching and Microsoft classes.
In December, Goodwill Industries of Arkansas will begin offering OSHA30 training, teaching important safety skills and practices to the many employees in Northwest Arkansas who work in manufacturing and similar facilities.
In January, Certified Business Professional courses will be offered, providing credentials in Customer Service, Sales, Communications, Business Etiquette and more.