The newest Goodwill location in the northland, in the Kenwood Shopping Center.

Kenwood Goodwill Opened June 12

“It’s a new look for Goodwill in a great location in a busy shopping area,” said Kent Fugere, Retail Sales Manager at Goodwill Industries Vocational Enterprises, Inc. “With the colors and layout of the store, it’s going to be a great shopping experience for our customers. People are already very interested—we’ve had to turn them away while we’ve been getting the store ready to open. We’re excited to bring the new look of Goodwill to the northland.”

The Kenwood Shopping Center is now home to Goodwill’s second Duluth location, bringing the non-profit’s stores up to 14 in number across the northland, and a new place for Duluthians to donate their gently used clothes and other items.

The new store sits on the corner of the Kenwood Shopping Center in between Erbert & Gerbert’s and Duluth Teacher’s Credit Union, with a donation drop-off located at the rear of the building. Thrifty shoppers and donors now have an alternative to the Garfield Ave. location, and can stop at Goodwill during a trip to the shopping center.

The new 4,000-square-foot store opened for business June 12 after weeks of renovations.

Goodwill is excited about the increased presence in the Duluth area and the opportunity to continue serving the people of Duluth and its surrounding communities.

Kenwood Goodwill store hours for shoppers are from 9am-7:30pm Monday-Friday, and 9am-6pm on Saturday. Goodwill accepts donations of gently used clothing and household goods during regular business hours at the store location. Contact the Kenwood store at 218 522-4461 for more information.

The Weight of Words

“I am a survivor, not a victim,” Johnson said. “I don’t give up. I might fail, but I always feel like there’s light at the end of the tunnel.”

Gunnar Johnson, a Goodwill client of seven years, was recently interviewed by the Duluth News Tribune (DNT) for an article on “People-First Language.”  Gunnar was able to share some of his background, to include past struggles and how he has been able to overcome difficulties through working at Goodwill.

According to disabilityisnatural.com, “People-First Language” is defined as putting the person before the disability. The site states that our choice in language can change the way we see a person, and it can change the way a person sees him or herself.  Disability is Natural goes on to say that our language shapes our attitudes; our attitudes shape our language; they’re intertwined. And our attitudes and language drive our actions.

As the DNT article states, Goodwill Duluth has been creating jobs and training people with disabilities for 96 years, and yet People-First language isn’t a policy that is specifically spelled-out.  Instead, the mindset and vocabulary inherent in People-First Language has long been adopted into Goodwill’s culture.  People with disabilities comprise the single largest minority group in America, and as such, care should be taken in showing the proper respect–a push currently being made among Goodwill’s employees.

Gunnar is choosing to focus on the positive, and has made many strides in his professional life.

“They (Goodwill) really work hard for people with disabilities,” said Gunnar. “It’s been a good place to work.”

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Photos by Bob King of the Duluth News Tribune.

Working at Goodwill Gives Sense of Purpose

nickBy Valerie Clark
Public Relations Specialist, Goodwill Duluth
vclark@goodwillduluth.org

Nick Marich is used to working hard.

That’s what made it so difficult for him after he had a devastating back injury while on the job as a heavy equipment mechanic.

“I heard a big crack in my back,” Nick recalls. “That’s how this whole back thing started.”

Nick’s 1995 back injury created a huge roadblock in his career. Not only did a 10-pound lifting restriction eliminate many of his work possibilities, but he also found that employers were afraid to hire him because of his previous worker’s comp claim.

“It was tough. When you walk in there and you tell them that you’ve got a broken back, they don’t want anything to do with you,” he said.

Unable to find a job and living with chronic back pain, Nick found himself in a downward spiral. But a ray of hope finally emerged through a random encounter when he happened to run into a WorkForce staff member while at the hospital with his dad. She convinced him to sign up for Goodwill programming.

Nick started working at Goodwill in 2007, starting out in the sawroom but eventually finding a position helping out in the Garfield Avenue store.

“It’s been a good fit here,” he says. “This helped a lot, to get some stability back in my life, a schedule to work. You can’t sit home every day.”

Nick is in charge of all the new goods orders for Goodwill’s 13 stores, making sure they have office supplies and shopping bags. It’s a big responsibility.

“I do all the shipping and receiving down there,” Nick says. “I take pride in that, to do it accurately and on time.”

“He’s helpful whenever you need him to do something,” says Nick’s manager, store supervisor Sherri Swenson. “He is my go-to guy for new goods orders. He does a lot of our stocking work for us.”

Nick’s longtime case manager, Denis LeRoux, praises Nick’s customer service skills, pointing out how he takes the time to chat with regular shoppers. He’s proud of Nick’s progress, as well as his helpful influence on other program participants.

“I’m very impressed that he came here and adapted to the system,” Denis says. “He’s likeable; he relates to people. He represents Goodwill in a positive way.”

Nick lives with and takes care of his 81-year-old mother in Morgan Park, where he’s lived all of his life. He credits his mother and Denis with turning his life around during a particularly dark time.

“I’m a whole different person now as I sit here than what I was back 15 years ago,” he says. “I was pretty down and out when I came here, to be perfectly honest with you. It was just good to get back to work again.”

He’s still dealing with the effects of his back condition, diagnosed as advanced multilevel degenerative disc disease. Six of his lower vertebrae are rubbing together with no disc in between, and doctors don’t have any solutions for him.

“They can do replacement discs now, but you have to have good vertebrae. I’ve seen every surgeon from here to the Mayo Clinic,” Nick says. Medication helps with the physical discomfort, while the ability to come to work each day at Goodwill makes a huge difference for his mental health.

“I couldn’t sit home every day. That would drive me wacko,” Nick says. “We all complain about work, but at the end of the day, we like to come to work, do our job and make a little money. The store is good. I want to stay where I am. It’s a place of employment where you can work with a busted back.”

Outside of work, Nick enjoys watching auto racing and spending time with his daughter and two grandchildren, ages 6 and 3.