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Goodwill Changing Lives One Iconic Birdhouse at a Time

Johnny Cooper considers himself a jack of all trades inside Goodwill's wood shop. But before their job training program, getting hired was a task too tough to tackle. "A lot of people don't hire folks," says Cooper. "Being a convicted felon, you know it's rough."

Cooper came to Goodwill to learn the basics of the business world from leaders like Delwin Huggins. "Goodwill is a lot about second chances," Huggins says. "Our mission is working with people with disabilities and other barriers to employment and criminal records are a huge barrier to employment."

The program starts small, teaching skills like how to punch a time clock, be to work on time, how to dress for work and get along with employees. Then the program builds on those basics, teaching clients the skills to build birdhouses.

Workers start with wood from around the region. After it's planed and cut to size, the sides are customized for the future residents like bluebirds, wrens or sparrows. Then it's time to add the iconic slogan to the birdhouses Goodwill creates for Rock City. "This is a pine wood and we use a stain the stain is removed fairly quickly after it's applied," Huggins explains, "so it gives us that streaky look, distressed look."

Those well-defined words are detailed to perfection by a mix of clients from the job-training program and employees they've hired on after graduation. The houses are then fully assembled and put together and go to packaging, labeling and the touch-up area.

It's a process that's changing lives one step at at time. For Johnny Cooper and so many others."There are so many opportunities and job skills you can learn as far as going toward a resume," Cooper says.

"For them to accomplish something, whether its achieving the output of the day or simply learning how to do it for the first time," Huggins says. "Receiving that recognition, it makes a huge impact on them. It really means a lot to play a small part in that."

Click here to learn more about the program or buy a birdhouse.

By: Latricia ThomasGoodwill Changing Lives One Iconic Birdhouse at a Time

Tuesday, November 12 2013, 03:50 PM EST

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