Thursday, February 4, 2010

Step up for Haiti, but don’t back down from local issues

The earthquake in Haiti was simply awful. As is usually the case with any disaster, the aftershocks (actual and emotional/mental) have been just as bad and in some cases worse. I am always amazed at the world’s response to a disaster such as this and I am of course particularly interested in the generosity of our own Metro Detroiters. The local response has been simply unbelievable.

I am told that this has always been the case with telethons and the like (think Jerry’s Kids) and in an area hit by its own economic and political earthquake, I think, almost too good to be true. But it is true, and the Detroit area has answered the call to help – perhaps because this cause is event driven and donors can feel good for that moment when they contribute to a cause such as the one in Haiti, then put it behind them.

The conundrum for many of us in the Detroit area is that we have our own disaster right here locally every single day, right before our very eyes, and we are having a very difficult time facing it and changing it.

There are a lot of reasons for that, some understandable and some that need to be set aside. But I am certain of one thing – we need to be thinking locally at least as much as we are thinking globally. We need to buy locally, sell locally, create jobs locally, and GIVE locally. All of us – business, government, unions, schools, non-profits, individuals – need to operate that way every single day.

This metropolitan area must have that same (if not greater) support and change and effort that we give to an event thousands of miles away. Perhaps this sounds self-serving, but that single, hard driven focus is what Metro Detroit needs and will need for a very long time.

The crux of all of that is the creation and sustainability of jobs. That is what we do at Goodwill every day. Contact any of us at Goodwill to learn how you can help us combat the greatest problem plaguing our community today. Any one of us would welcome the opportunity to talk with you anytime and anywhere.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Get on the Bus 2009

Two years ago this month, I started at Goodwill Industries of Greater Detroit as the CEO and President. The time seems like it has flown by as all of us at Goodwill are focused on helping people get trained and ready for work. We have raised the volume on our message as what we do at Goodwill becomes more relevant in these tough economic times. We put people to work so they can become self-sufficient. One of the ways we help folks when they find that job is with transportation.
Many of the people who earn a job depend on the bus to get to their new workplace. Often, though, they can’t afford the fare until they start earning regular paychecks. So, for the third year, we are running our "Get on the Bus" campaign that allows anyone in Metro Detroit to make a contribution to help local Goodwill clients get to the jobs they’ve earned. In many cases, that job is their very first.
CVS, Pepsi, SMART, Comcast and WJR are partnering with us to support "Get on the Bus" throughout October to raise funds for bus passes, as well gas cards and automotive repairs so Metro Detroiters can overcome their transportation barriers and get to work. A donation of only $49 gives a Goodwill trainee a bus pass for an entire month. Any amount is of course appreciated.
You can give by visiting or calling 888-380-GIVE.
It is campaigns like this that can involve an entire community in philanthropy and help Goodwill accomplish our most important objective – helping Metro Detroiters overcome barriers to employment.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Pay it 4ward for Metro Detroit jobs!

It seems like everywhere I go around Metro Detroit, everyone is talking about Goodwill’s Pay It 4ward campaign. It has been gratifying to see Goodwill “top of mind,” especially during a summer of bad news. I have been touched to see Metro Detroiters helping fellow Metro Detroiters by giving whatever they can in a campaign envelope and passing it on.

This campaign has generated so much interest that when it came time for the planned end the campaign, our sponsors convinced us to keep it going until the end of September. It has been special to see people understand how simple a concept it is and how they can play role no matter how small. I’ve received emails from folks who have passed the envelope around in their offices and got a quick $25, $50 or $100….knowing they made a difference. I even went to my golf league one Wednesday night and someone, never identified, had started an envelope around the dinner tables and I came back to Goodwill the next day with a nice contribution to the campaign.

I know there are those who say, “Hey, you never know, if someone is taking the envelope and keeping the money.” Frankly, in this world of great need, if someone really feels that they need that little extra help, we have helped someone as well. Overall, we have chosen to trust our community and that has proven to be a wise choice.

We have also been invited to be one of the non-profits to benefit from various community efforts like Arts, Beats and Eats during Labor Day and last weekend’s Kem concert in Detroit. Check the link out ( <> ) and be part of our efforts. Everyone knows how important it is to help each other. And it is easy when we pay it forward, because we never know when we might need help ourselves.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Unprecedented crisis calls for unprecedented solution

Unfortunately, the fact that unemployment in Metro Detroit has reached crisis level is no longer news. But, Goodwill Industries of Greater Detroit’s education, training and career services are more necessary now than ever before. From this necessity has evolved the one-of-a-kind “Broadcasting for Jobs” campaign that will commence at 6 a.m. tomorrow and last throughout the day. The effort will include a call to action broadcast across 11 top-rated Southeast Michigan radio stations simultaneously reaching out to a wide cross-section of individuals from all parts of Metro Detroit.

As you are driving to or from work, or even while you are at work during the day, we ask that you think about those in our community who have neither a commute to make nor a desk to work from because they need help securing employment. We invite you to be part the solution to the region’s unemployment crisis by tuning in to your favorite radio station tomorrow and urging others to do the same.

You and thousands of others will be encouraged to call (866) 964-GIVE or visit to donate to the fight against local unemployment. Just a few minutes of your time and a few dollars can help fellow Metro Detroiters secure job opportunities and take their lives in a positive new direction.

The stations on which Goodwill will be “Broadcasting for Jobs” Friday are:

· WCSX-FM (94.7)
· WDVD-FM (96.3)
· WJR-AM (760)
· WMGC-FM (105.1)
· WMXD-FM (92.3)
· WNIC-FM (100.3)
· WOMC-FM (104.3)
· WRIF-FM (101.1)
· WWJ-AM (950)
· WXYT-FM (97.1)
· WYCD-FM (99.5)

As many of you know, in just the past two years of our nearly 90-year history, Goodwill Industries of Greater Detroit has placed more than 2,500 Wayne, Oakland and Macomb county individuals into new jobs and provided assistance to thousands more in the region. Your support of Friday’s “Broadcasting for Jobs” effort will help us make a positive impact on an even greater number of our unemployed friends and neighbors.

To maintain that momentum, “Broadcasting for Jobs” will embrace a powerful medium to deliver a message of hope to an entire region. Please listen and contribute, if you are able. Your support will help our community become trained, trusted and ready to work.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Lorna sends a letter to Washington...

To: The Members of the United States House of Representatives and the United States

On behalf of the hardworking men and women of Goodwill Industries of Greater Detroit, I want to share with you a story you did not hear during last week’s automotive industry hearings. For more than 80 years, our organization has supplied the domestic automotive industry. Our relationship with the industry has provided many years of productive employment for those who might never have been able to find steady work elsewhere. They are individuals with various physical, mental and social barriers to employment. Detroit’s Goodwill provides both the training and paycheck by producing automotive components. We are expected to perform at the same quality and production standards that all automotive suppliers must adhere to in today’s competitive environment. The revenue we earn as an auto supplier is critical to Goodwill. We rely on that income stream to finance our important mission of training individuals for jobs of the future, particularly those with barriers to employment.

It seems many in Congress want to punish the auto executives by denying them a loan. Please understand that your actions will impact so many others, including people who otherwise would not be able to work at a full-time job and earn a paycheck and the human dignity that comes along with it.

We strongly urge you to pass legislation providing a bridge loan to aid automakers that have been placed in this position because of the global financial crisis, for the good of the American economy, our nation’s future and the people who benefit every day from organizations like ours.


Lorna G. Utley
President and CEO