Employees of the Goodwill store on McHenry Avenue were shocked to read about the negative experience that community columnist Sue Vidauri ("A little less Goodwill for donating used goods to charities," Sept. 13, Page B-7) had while making a donation. The piece was the first anyone from Goodwill heard of her concerns, and we were all disturbed by the allegations of intentional negligence and potential theft by a donation attendant.
The Goodwill store would not exist without its precious donors. It is because of the generosity of the community that Goodwill is able to generate funding for its training programs for people with disabilities and other barriers to employment. In Stanislaus County, Goodwill operates several job training and placement services. These programs are funded by donations sold through our stores. These job services are responsible for putting people to work in high-demand occupations where they earn paychecks that feed and clothe their families. The donor is our single most important customer, and Goodwill employees are trained to express their respect and gratitude.
The charges made by Vidauri, such as destruction of merchandise and personal diversion of donations, are work behaviors tolerated neither by Goodwill Industries nor by the dedicated management at the Modesto Goodwill store. Had management been made aware of this situation, it would have been addressed immediately.
Was it a training issue? Was it the inappropriate action of a single employee or volunteer? At this time, and with the way the information was made public, a fair investigation is now unlikely.
Vidauri also complained that we did not take her television set at an earlier date. As a matter of record, two years ago Goodwill was not able to accept certain electronic waste. Today, however, Goodwill is a state-certified e-waste collector, and we gladly accept televisions, computer monitors, printers, DVD players and other peripherals. Goodwill also collaborates with recyclers to accept empty ink cartridges and cell phones.
These items are not part of our regular donation stream that flows onto our sales floor. Staff is trained to separate these items based on the specifications of our partners. Again, was the individual Vidauri mentioned separating the e-waste, or was he breaking a Goodwill policy?
Goodwill has a zero-tolerance policy against employee theft -- just as any other employer would not tolerate it.
Again, because Goodwill management was not made aware of this situation, we do not know if it was, in fact, theft.
The allegations published in The Bee painted a dark picture of the Goodwill store in Modesto. It would have been more reasonable for Vidauri to register her complaint with Goodwill Industries prior to going to the newspaper.
The article was certainly hurtful and humiliating for all the hard-working, dedicated employees of Goodwill. We hope that our faithful donors who support Goodwill's job-training programs will continue to bless this organization through their gifts of clothing and housewares to be resold in the store. Please, don't hesitate to let us know how we may serve you and the community better.
Miller is president and CEO of Goodwill Industries of San Joaquin Valley Inc.