This week I had the great pleasure of working with Sandra Collins, assistant store manager from Goodwill Olympics and Rainier Region (Tacoma, WA), as she testified before a House Ways and Means subcommittee during a hearing titled Subsidized Job Programs and Their Effectiveness in Helping Families Go to Work and Escape Poverty.
Sandra faced significant challenges before enrolling in a transitional jobs program for people on public assistance. As a mother who was homeless, a substance abuser and a victim of domestic violence, Sandra felt alone, however she knew the power of work would help her escape poverty and create new opportunities for her and her children.
During the short six-month job training program, Sandra obtained her general educational development (GED) certificate and secured full-time employment at Goodwill®. She has since been promoted, used the Goodwill Wheels to Work program to finance her own car and enrolled in a Goodwill financial literacy course, which helped her open a bank account and set short- and long-term goals. She’ll be closing on her first home next month. You can read more of Sandra’s testimony here and watch her give her oral statement here.
Sandra’s story is just one of more than 215,000 people on public assistance whom Goodwill assisted last year. Goodwill agencies around the country serve as America’s test kitchens as they implement various types of subsidized jobs programs aimed at helping people reach their full potential. Goodwill agencies use a holistic, family-centric approach, and therefore provide or help provide access to a range of supportive services that assist with needs including child care, transportation and stable housing.
The Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program has been due for reauthorization, yet the program comes close to expiring year after year without any significant changes. As Congress contemplates changes to TANF and other subsidized programs while examining their effectiveness, Goodwill urges lawmakers to keep Sandra and others in her position in mind.