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Goodwill opens new retail store in medical district

(Featured image is from the Feb. 8 ribbon cutting ceremony at Goodwill of Middle Georgia and the CSRA’s 18th retail center on 15th Street. Charmain Z. Brackett/Augusta Good News)

Since its founding, Goodwill has been on a mission to give people a hand up not a hand out, and on Thursday, the Goodwill of Middle Georgia and the CSRA opened its 18th store to do just that.

“We were able to take 20 unemployed people through a job fair at the HUB and give them full time positions with excellent benefits,” said James Stiff, the organization’s president after a ribbon cutting ceremony Thursday, Feb. 8 at the new retail training center at 15th Street and Walton Way,.

People lined up outside the store and wrapped around the building prior to the 9 a.m. ribbon cutting for a chance to be the first shoppers in the former Rite Aid location.

People lined up outside the newest Goodwill retail center on Feb. 8. Charmain Z. Brackett/Augusta Good News

The store offers clothing, accessories and some household items.        

Read More: Davidson students paint mural at Goodwill

“Last year in 2023, we were able to serve over 10,000 people with education and job placement and career advancement services because you donated and you shopped at Goodwill,” he told those gathered. “Because of you, Goodwill was able to have the resources to help 3,759 unemployed or underemployed people secure a good job in this area.”

Augusta Mayor Garnett Johnson remarked on Goodwill’s strong presence and positive impact in the Augusta area.

“As I drive around this city, here we now have this center in the middle of the great medical district. Travel up Washington Road just a little bit — one of our busiest corridors — we have another center. You go out south on Peach Orchard Road, another Goodwill center; of course, another busy corridor on Wrightsboro Road. So, it tells me, they are doing the Lord’s work in making sure that anybody who lives in Augusta has accessibility to centers and opportunities and clothing and jobs to make our community better,” he said. “These centers provide hope to those who so desperately need it.”

Stiff said it’s not likely that many more retail centers will open in the Augusta area because they are contingent on receiving donations of goods and reselling them. Some future growth will come in the hospitality realm. The organization operates several restaurants including Edgar’s Grille on Washington Road and Edgar’s Above Broad.

Goodwill also operates Helms College which has a strong culinary program, training chefs in the classroom and giving them real world experience in these eateries.

A former Rite Aid on 15th Street has been transformed into a Goodwill retail center. Charmain Z. Brackett/Augusta Good News

Read more: Area Goodwill draws from its past to shape its future

The organization is developing a medical program that will follow a similar format, Stiff said.

“Our goal is to give all our programs classroom to lab to applied learning before externship and clinical hours to level the playing field, so they are ready to excel when hit real hospital venues,” he said.

The organization is in conversations with medical groups working to find the right fit for someone to operate a clinic in the former Weinberger’s Furniture on Washington Road to give that clinical training to students on site.

Stiff said it will take about $3.5 million to finish that project.

Charmain Z. Brackett, the publisher of Augusta Good News and Inspiring: Women of Augusta, has covered Augusta’s news for 35 years. Reach her at Sign up for the newsletter here.

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