Goodwill is more than a thrift store – it’s an organization dedicated to helping people find work and a place of belonging in their lives. That’s the message guest speaker Gerry Partridge (in photo) had for Capital Rotary members Feb. 18. Partridge, development director for Goodwill Industries of Upstate/Midlands South Carolina, said thrift store sales of donated items fund the agency’s jobs mission. There were nearly 1.3 million donations of “gently used merchandise” in 2018-2019, converted into 3.4 million purchases at 36 stores. In 16 Upstate and Midlands counties, Goodwill helped more than 23,000 people seeking employment and placed over 13,000 in jobs. During their first year of work, these newly-placed employees were projected to earn $172 million in wages. Partridge also noted that Goodwill helps the environment by recycling items like computers and printers, keeping 390,000 pounds of potential electronic waste from going into local landfills. He said the organization is guided by volunteer board members who see that over 93 cents of every dollar spent goes to programs and services. “Every day we can help someone is a good day at Goodwill,” Partridge concluded.