From Venezuela to Vegas: Goodwills Exchange Ideas Internationally
September 22, 2011
Last week Caroline Ruiz, manager of Goodwill Venezuela traveled to Las Vegas for three days of training and information exchange with Goodwill of Southern Nevada. Ruiz, who had never before traveled to the United States, visited her first Goodwill® store during her layover in Miami before traveling to Las Vegas. Once there, she was received by Goodwill of Southern Nevada’s President and CEO Steve Chartrand and his leadership team, with Walter Lescano, director of donations and logistics, serving as interpreter during the visit.
Goodwill Venezuela, known as Industrias de Buena Voluntad, was founded in 1964 and is based in Caracas, Venezuela. Its focus is on professional rehabilitation for people with disabilities with professional services provided in the areas of occupational evaluation, work adjustment, vocational training and job placement. They currently run a small donated goods retail store and a small appliance repair shop.
During the trip, Ruiz visited each department at the Las Vegas Goodwill, touring their offices and operations, and speaking with leadership staff from human resources, finance, marketing, IT, retail, online sales, security and transportation. She also visited several stores and attended donation centers, as well as the agency’s e-commerce center.
Ruiz commented that she was inspired by the visit, remarking, “I had never visited a U.S. Goodwill store. To see them so big and organized with marketing and sales plans gave me the idea of how to realize the potential of our store and also seek ways to open new stores.”
Although Venezuela’s donation culture presents unique challenges, Ruiz hopes to take the idea of attended donation centers back to the country where they could be a great way to stimulate growth of their store. She also expressed interest in e-commerce as a tool for Goodwill Venezuela and plans to look into the field further with the help of Goodwill of Southern Nevada.
During her visit, Ruiz also had the opportunity to make a presentation on Goodwill Venezuela’s activities to the Las Vegas Goodwill group, which highlighted its mission services, experience placing people with disabilities in large companies and their line of trademark dishware. She also shared details from her agency’s five-year experience running a successful golf tournament fundraiser; Goodwill of Southern Nevada plans to organize a similar tournament for the first time this year.
At the end of the visit, Goodwill of Southern Nevada was extended an open invitation to travel to Goodwill Venezuela and continue the exchange of information.
“It was our pleasure to share our Goodwill with Ms. Ruiz and also learn what Goodwill Venezuela is doing to serve their communities,” said Lescano. “We are excited to see the ‘power of work’ has no boundaries.”