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When Goodwill Industries of Central Florida opened a new, modern store on the north side of DeLand about a year ago, the agency made sure the facility included a Job Connection Center to help people find employment.

“We had a lot of community-based support from an anonymous donor and other friends of Goodwill, such as the SunTrust Foundation,” said Karla Radka, Goodwill’s chief operating officer. “We engaged that community while the store was being built, and we were told the job center really was needed here.”

That need has been borne out in the number of people who have utilized the center’s free services since opening last November at 1600 N. Woodland Blvd. Nearly 2,200 individuals have gone through the center, and 669 of them have been placed in new jobs earning an average wage of $11.16 an hour, Radka said.

And it’s not just getting people employed, she said. Individuals wanting a different job, or even a second one, are always welcome to visit the Job Connection Center.

The DeLand jobs center is one of 11 in Goodwill’s six-county service area, which in addition to Volusia includes Orange, Osceola, Seminole, Brevard and Lake counties. There’s also a Job Connection Center in Daytona Beach.

“Our purpose and mission is to restore dignity through employment,” Radka said. “Our organization is built on relationships to support communities where we are, especially in the sustainability of people to gain employment.”

Like the others, the DeLand Job Connection Center offers a workshop called Job Works 101. In the interactive one-day session, attendees can learn how to formulate a job-search plan and gain strategies for building a strong network, become versed in the finer points of dressing for success, discover how to create an elevator pitch, and pick up on other key “soft skills” that can help them become successful.

Upon completion of the session, attendees can receive a $20 voucher to use in the Goodwill store to buy employment-related clothing, said Jennifer Robertson, manager of the two Volusia County job centers.

People already employed also can get a $20 store voucher once a year if they can prove they have a job, Robertson added.

The center also helps job-seekers write a résumé and provides computers on which they can search for open positions. The center also has training rooms that can be used by potential employers for training or orientation purposes.

Goodwill also has a staffing agency — GoodSource Staffing Services — that can place individuals in clerical, retail, warehouse, light industrial or landscaping positions, Radka said.

“We can place people into jobs right away,” she said. “We build relationships with employers to meet their hiring needs.”

The DeLand Job Connection Center is open 9 a.m.-5 p.m. weekdays, and 9 a.m.-1 p.m. Saturdays. For more information, call 386-265-0970.

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