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Bilingual career center opens in Georgia’s Richmond Hill

La Voz Latina

SOUTH GEORGIA — The shopping experience is mind-boggling. Nearly 20,000 square feet of merchandise that includes “gently-used” clothing, furniture, tools, and home furnishings make the new Goodwill store in Richmond Hill one of South Georgia’s largest destinations for bargain-hunters.

But for job-seekers, the store’s real treasure and the core of Goodwill Industries’ mission statement lies just inside the front entrance at the top of the stairs. That is where you’ll find “Job Connections”, a state-of-the-art employment training and career center featuring rows of study desks, a large bank of internet-connected computers and a beautifully furnished conference room.

In 2010, Goodwill Industries served more than 2.4 million people through employment and training programs and helped over 170,000 of them to earn a job with Goodwill’s help.

Michael Whitfield is the bilingual manager of the Richmond Hill Career Center. Prior to its opening this spring, he worked for nine months under the supervision of Rey Morales, the Outreach Coordinator for Goodwill’s Buena Vida Job Connection Center & Community Career Center in Vidalia, Ga.

“Buena Vida” which means “the Good Life”, is the name given to a special employment and education initiative for Hispanic residents funded by a $2 million grant from a private foundation. Through partnerships with other community agencies, the community center will offer a variety of adult education classes including financial literacy classes, health and wellness classes, and GED preparatory classes.

“We offer a full range of services for both employers and job seekers and all of them are completely free,” Whitfield said.

“We help job seekers write their resumes, practice their interviewing skills and learn how to navigate the internet. Employers give us job descriptions and we match qualified applicants for them to interview. We provide office space for interviewing and job fairs. We also offer Latinos access to a special web-based learning experience called GCF Latino that helps job applicants master computer skills.”

GCF Latino creates learning opportunities for Spanish-speakers who want to enhance essential skills needed for employment.

The web-based curricula of the virtual workshops can help anyone become highly knowledgeable on Windows Office programs, social media platforms, computer applications and day-to-day life skills. Spanish-language tutorials on Word, Excel, and PowerPoint help users acquire essential skills for office or administrative positions.

The popular “Everyday Life” program guides limited English-proficient individuals through the top 1,000 words in the English language, words that teach users critical life lessons needed to successfully function in the United States– lessons like using an ATM or learning how to access public transportation. (Visit for more information).

Whitfield grew up in Cherokee County and has a university degree in social work. One of his first jobs was working in a North Georgia poultry plant alongside Latinos…

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