Goodwill welcomes community with grand opening

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Posted: Wednesday, October 16, 2013 12:00 am

Friday’s brilliant sunrise and brisk breeze set the perfect backdrop for a new flag to wave and ribbon to be cut.

Gretna’s Goodwill store held its grand opening on Friday, welcoming guests and new shoppers for the first time to the new location.

“It’s always fun having a grand opening,” Goodwill Chief Operations Officer Randy Parks said.

He said he has had his eye on the Gretna area for the last four to five years and is excited to finally see the new 15,500-square-foot building open, the 16th store to be opened in the Omaha metro area.

He said the new facility employs 26 new part- and full-time workers, almost all of whom are from Gretna.

In addition to supplying the community a place to both donate and purchase gently used goods, the Gretna location also includes a training room, which Parks said will be used in collaboration with Gretna Public Schools to provide work experience for high school students with special needs.

“It’s a nice entry into the work world,” Work Experience Coordinator Holly Schwietz said.

Schwietz said the program serves as a means to provide students with disabilities work experience by helping them learn soft skills, such as attendance, as well as a once or twice weekly student-staff meeting to teach other skills such as teamwork and problem solving.

“This is a nice way to integrate them into the store,” she said.

One of the examples of lessons taught is sorting and hanging donated items, Schwietz said, as it helps with problem solving skills.

“You can start at the very basic level and keep advancing,” she said.

For instance, she said, the first skills learned would be to judge whether an item is fit to sell and students will look for damage or stains. After deciding if an item can be sold, it’s a matter of sorting them by gender and size.

While the building is new, Schwietz said working with GPS is not.

“We’ve been partnering with Gretna schools for a number of years, we just have never had a location here before,” she said.

While operating out of Gretna, she said Goodwill has plans to reach out to other nearby school districts, such as Springfield Platteview Community Schools and Ashland-Greenwood Public Schools, to work with special needs students as well, being able to accommodate for up to 15 students in both day and night shifts.

Gretna Mayor Jim Timmerman said this work program will be a great contribution for the teenagers.

“It helps them mainstream into training,” he said.

Timmerman, who briefly spoke during the grand opening, said the new Goodwill is a great addition to the Gretna community and is already appreciated by residents.

“I know all the citizens are excited,” he said.

After the 8:15 a.m. flag dedication from Woodmen of the World and a ribbon cutting, guests were welcome to a brief reception and tour of the new facility, but shoppers were already flooding the aisles and making the store’s first sales by 8:45 a.m.

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