National Hispanic Heritage Month takes place from September 15 – October 15 and Goodwill is highlighting contributions made by America’s growing Hispanic population to the country’s economic and cultural vitality.

A growing number of Americans identify themselves as Hispanic. There is an estimated 55 million Americans who identify as Hispanic or Latino. That’s an increase of 30 percent over the 2000 Census, which counted the nation’s Hispanic population at 35.3 million.

In 2013, the 165 local Goodwill agencies in the U.S. and Canada helped nearly 226 thousand people of Hispanic origin with services geared toward helping them gain job skills and earn meaningful employment.

In 1902, Goodwill began by helping immigrants and new Americans in Boston build their work skills and care for their families. Over the past 112 years, Goodwill’s tradition of building customized employment services extends to the Hispanic community, to help them navigate the special challenges they have to finding jobs and building their careers. For example, Goodwill NY-NJ locally provides English as a second language courses (ESL), courses in computer literacy, GED training and American civics and citizenship, in both English and Spanish.

For instance, Rocio Bautista, who was born and raised in Los Angeles, California, came to Goodwill after having to apply for public assistance.

After a career in retail and working as a property manager, her company had to relocate her to the East coast. Soon she found that her apartment was not grant funded as a condition to her employment and her rent increased to an uncompromising amount. She was forced to move, she found herself in Queens and couldn’t continue the commute. Eventually, she found herself unemployed, lost her childcare and was at square one

Rocio found herself unemployed and at the welfare office applying for public assistance. She was referred to Goodwill’s Back to Work program and was referred to the agency’s Beyond Jobs program for single women.

She completed her Individual Career & Financial plan (ICFP) and set her goals. The first goal set was to obtain her General Equivalency Diploma (GED). Goodwill’s Beyond Jobs immediately linked her with a school, she pre tested and scored so high she didn’t need prep classes. The agency offered her an opportunity to become an intern at 1 of the Goodwill sites while continuing her job search.

Soon, when a clerical position became available in Goodwill, she applied, interviewed and was hired full-time. Rocio’s long term goal is to go to college to get her degree and continue her career path in Human services. She has become a faithful member of Beyond Jobs and now recruits for the program. So far she has successfully referred about 4 women to the program to date!

View Rocio at Goodwill

“Just as our founder, Edgar Helms, opened Goodwill’s doors to new Americans in Boston, Goodwill will always be a welcoming place for Hispanics, helping them find ways to build their economic security, “said Bill Forrester, President and CEO of the NY-NJ Goodwill.

Goodwill values diversity and welcomes people of all ethnicities and nationalities to take advantage of its job training programs and community services, to help them find jobs and experience the pride and independence that work brings.

For information on training and employment services, check out our website www.goodwillnynj.org

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