Celebrate the power of work on Labor Day — and every day

Our country celebrates Labor Day with parades, picnics, and parties — festivities very similar to those outlined by the first proposal for a holiday acknowledging the social and economic achievements of American workers.

The first Labor Day holiday occurred on Tuesday, Sept. 5, 1882, in New York City, in accordance with the plans of the Central Labor Union.

By 1894, 23 more states had adopted the holiday, and on June 28, 1894, Pres. Grover Cleveland signed a law making the first Monday in September a national holiday.

In a way, Goodwill Central Coast celebrates Labor Day EVERY day, helping individuals with disabilities and other barriers find meaningful employment and education opportunities.

Our local impact also includes the employment of 600 local workers, providing nearly 14,000 local job services and contributing $14 million in local wages, taxes, and benefits. Now that’s the power of work!

At Goodwill CC, we believe that everyone has the right to work, but for many individuals, the barriers to employment are too high to overcome alone.

These barriers include homelessness, military service, single parenting, incarceration, addiction, job displacement, and more. These barriers should not define a person’s identity because they have so much more to offer.

Finding employment can change someone’s outlook on life and improve their self-esteem.

A 2014 study conducted by the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index found that 12.4 percent of unemployed Americans suffered from depression compared to 5.6 percent of those working full time. For those without a job for a long period of time (“long-term unemployment” is regarded as being without a job for 27 weeks or more), the rate of depression jumped to 18 percent or nearly 1 in 5.

When you have a job, you feel like you are a contributing member of society. Employment provides a sense of purpose, … of belongingness, and what could be more important than that?

Suffering from depression or experiencing feelings of worthlessness also seriously inhibits the ability of someone to find and keep a job. Those experiencing that trauma typically has difficulty in finding work because they lack the energy and drive to engage in a job hunt. Additionally, those who are jobless often lack organization in their daily lives. If you don’t have a reason to get up in the morning, you’re more likely to stay up late. Habits like these often further alienate those who are unemployed from the working population, further decreasing motivation.

A job can not only enhance self-worth but turn around the life of the worker and his or her family. Each year at GCC we help thousands of job seekers find employment and reclaim financial and personal independence..

 To deliver our services, we rely on partnerships with our communities’ federal and state workforce development agencies, as well as strong relationships with the local businesses that provide employment opportunities. Local community members also play an important role by donating ready-to-sell items for our stores and by choosing to shop at Goodwill.

It’s all part of Goodwill’s mission to be more than a collection of thrift stores. Sure, we are a retailer. We are an industrial contracts operation. We are a recycler of household goods. But most importantly, we are a leader in training and workforce development services for persons with disabilities and other barriers. Through the sale of donated goods in our retail stores, we are able to fund programs that provide for people seeking personal development and economic opportunity.

That is why we stand proud on Labor Day, and why we celebrate labor EVERY day.