JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Goodwill Industries is a non-profit provider of education, training, and career services for people with disadvantages. Sodexho is a food service and facilities management company.
In Jacksonville, FL these two, seemingly incongruent, entities have partnered up to create and manage a brand new 1,600 sq ft health care laundry facility on Lenox St. It’s a unique alliance that breaks new ground for both businesses.
“There are other Goodwills involved in laundries in other locations but those all started with a government contract – this is the first for us with a commercial operation,” explains Jim Wadsworth, Senior Vice President of Workforce Development at Goodwill Industries of North Florida, Inc.
BENEFITS TO THE COMMUNITY
The partnership provides a mutually beneficial relationship for both participants, as well as a much needed service to the local hospital community.
“The health care facilities that we service have been drawn to this because of the goal and the mission of serving the community – it resonates with hospitals,” says Emeka Okeani, President, Sodexho Laundry Division.
The plant also offers employment to the area’s ‘hidden workforce.’ This workforce includes people facing welfare dependency, homelessness, lack of education or work experience, as well as those with physical, mental and emotional disabilities. It’s a group that has been the focus of Goodwill’s work for decades.
“They are ‘hidden’ in that they are unemployed, don’t get benefits and because of that no one knows who or where they are,” explains Bob Thayer, President, Goodwill Industries North Florida.
Today, through the auspices of Goodwill, the Jacksonville plant employs 20 such people to handle the 1.4 million pounds of annualized laundry processed there. All of the on-site laundry equipment is supplied by Sodexho; 3 Braun 600 lb TSL washer extractors, 1Braun 200 lb TSL washer extractor, 1 Milnor 55 lb washer-extractor, 2 Norman 400 lb gas fired dryers model 123, 3 Cissell 150 lb gas fired dryers, 2 Braun DELTA flatwork ironers, 2 Braun folder/cross-folders, 1 Braun spreader-feeder and 3 Braun SIGNA small piece folders. A tunnel washer is to be installed as poundage dictates.
“Sodexho provides management, the maintenance and the engineering as well as the account person,” explains Wadsworth. “The laundry supervisor and the direct labor employees are from Goodwill.”
Bert Fish Medical Center in New Smyrna Beach was the first client to sign on. St. Luke’s Hospital in Jacksonville followed closely behind. Wadsworth expects to have more clients and to be up to 5 million annualized pounds of laundry by the end of this year.
HOW IT BEGAN
In late 2004 Goodwill Industries of Northern FLA, was seeking more affirmative ways to provide employment for the 1,400 plus people with disabilities coming through their “Job Junction” doors.
“We decided to open a health care laundry,” says Wadsworth. “A laundry facility is feasible to operate, fits into the local market and provides job opportunities. We also realized that those kinds of jobs couldn’t be outsourced and that there were no offsite laundries in our area.”
The organization had had relations with Sodexho on the food service level and knew about their experience and expertise in industrial laundry services. For its part Goodwill had the potential laundry site; an unoccupied 1,600 sq foot warehouse formerly used for donations, as well as the direct labor pool.
Sodexho was intrigued by Goodwill’s proposal and the two sides were soon hammering out an agreement to develop a laundry. On October 15, 2007, to much fanfare, the plant opened.
When he first moved to Jacksonville, FL Michael Davis was unemployed and homeless. He began working at the plant six months ago and today works a 40- hour week, sorting and weighing the laundry before washing. He foresees a bright future.
“I see myself, a couple of years from now, supervising the whole laundry dept, helping with stock and shipments coming in,” he says.
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