40 year Goodwill program closing its doors because of economy - KLTV.com - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News


40 year Goodwill program closing its doors because of economy

For more than 40 years, Goodwill Industries has helped provide jobs to people with severe disabilities through its Opportunities In Tyler employment center. Today, that program closed its doors, hopefully for just a little while. As KLTV 7's Layron Livingston tells us, it's just one more sign of the times they hope to pass.

The empty room speaks for itself.

"We normally employ somewhere between 65 and 75 people, and of those people, 50-60 of them have multiple disabilities," said David Walton with Goodwill Industries.

"It can vary from mental retardation, mental health, autism, those are just some of the disabilities that they have," said Steve Houston.

People like Wade McDonald, who's been with the program since the beginning.

"In those 40 years, he's missed three days of work. He's going to miss more work in the next 60 days than he's missed in 40 years," said Walton.

"We do a varitey of package assembly, document destruction," said Houston.

Opportunities In Tyler operations manager Steve Houston says Wade and his peers have been temporarily laid off simply because the work isn't there.

"Goodyear closed...Goodyear was about 42,000 dollars a month in revenue for us. Trane has slowed down....with their sales and things," said Houston. "All of the major companies that are in Tyler, we were doing some type of work for them."

Which means production jobs and revenue at OIT are in limbo.

"In a non-profit, you at least want to break even...that's your goal....but we're well below that," said Steve Houston.

A small workforce remains and new contracts are sought everyday to get things running again.

"Our hopes are that some of these companies will come around and realize that this kind of program is vital for our community," said Houston.

"Many times when a person has a disability, they're deemed incapable of doing anything," said Walton.

Now they're hoping to be able to provide the opportunity to keep those opportunities coming. OIT opened its doors in 1965 and has been a branch of Goodwill Industries since '97. Representatives hope to reopen its doors in early January.

Layron Livingston, reporting. llivingston@kltv.com

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