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Dividends Of Goodwill: A Report On Self-Help For The Handicapped
In 1943, however, Goodwills, generally, required less outside support than ever before. Nearly all the Industries reported increases in volume of sales over previous years. The increase undoubtedly was due in large part to the demand for commodities made scarce as a result of the war. Records show that sales increased from approximately four and a half million dollars in 1942 to almost five million dollars in 1943.
The increase means, of course, that greater community service was rendered in the past year -- the dividends of Goodwill were larger. More money was made available to be paid in wages to the handicapped, and more people benefited from the opportunity of buying reasonable merchandise in Goodwill stores.
As a result of sales increases, wages have been increased. Workers in Goodwill plants normally are paid what are called "opportunity" wages, which are recognized by government, business, and society as fair proceeds and ordinarily represent a return for labor based on the relation of their production to that of more able persons.
Among the materials handled by Goodwill Industries are large quantities of scrap metal, paper, and other materials which have been utilized in the war effort. As collectors of discarded household articles, Goodwills have been able to play prominent part in government salvage drives. The war has caused some changes in the way Goodwill Industries minister to the material needs of employees. First, drives by many relief organizations for clothing have been a drain on the supply of resources. Second, because of shortages, the supplies of some items have not been coming in as well as in the past. Although the effect of these two conditions has not been serious, it has been enough for a number of Goodwill Industries to turn to new work projects. Many of them have taken contracts with war manufacturers to give handicapped people employment at such jobs as sorting bolts and rivets for airplanes, assembling small machinery parts, building furniture for Army camps. More than a dozen Goodwill Industries provided direct war work for hundreds of handicapped people -- some of them confined to their homes -- through such projects.
Records of Goodwill Industries clearly show that no matter how prosperous the times, many people would suffer from want if it were not for special employment opportunities. Normally, handicapped people have difficulty finding jobs, and even today many -- especially those with more serious disabilities -- cannot compete with physically sound workers. Their material needs -- food, clothing, and shelter -- could not be met satisfactorily with pensions. Goodwill employment to such people, therefore, definitely provides material things of life.
Though they are in a sense business types of institutions, Goodwill Industries cannot measure progress and success only by commercial records. Figures alone do not tell the story. The story must be told, too, in terms of people. It is this side of the story that the next section tells.
. . .To All Men. . .
TO all men -- directly to some and indirectly to others -- the dividends of Goodwill are obvious. Out of the shadows at the fringes of society, the handicapped step forward -- into the light -- to report their stories. In their stories are tales of suffering, pathos, and drama, and then renewed hope and faith.
The stories of the people in Goodwill plants always begin with tragedy. Sometimes the disability is congenital, sometimes it is due to the ravages of disease, often to accident; sometimes the tragedy is a hard knock in life that destroys security.
All types of handicapped people come to Goodwill Industries for employment. In 1943, for instance, 31.5% had orthopedic and health disabilities such as paralysis, arrested tuberculosis, loss of limbs, etc. About 5.2% suffered from impaired hearing and speech, and another 4.6% from defective vision or blindness. Mental, emotional or social troubles were the handicaps of another 15.1%. Age or infirmity bring another 26% to Goodwill seeking employment. About 17.6% of the workers have no physical handicaps but seek jobs in Goodwill Industries for training or interim employment.
These are the figures, but figures do not tell the human side. There's Jerry, for instance, a Goodwill worker with arthritis of the spine. Doctors said he would never be able to feed himself. But he came to a Goodwill Industries, determined to use his limbs.
At first he couldn't raise his arms above desk height, but continued effort brought success, and today he is a store supervisor, drives a car, and is an excellent worker.
. . . And there's the mother of five children who lost a leg in an accident and spent nine years in hospitals. She came to Goodwill where she has been readily accepted for work in the sewing room and in the office.
Another worker -- dwarfed in size and with webbed hands and feet -- found Goodwill the only place he could find a job. He discovered he could use his crippled hands taking care of office records. It is no wonder that he says, "I've never been happier in my life. I'm so glad a fellow like me can find a job to help himself."