To most Americans, the governments in their towns and regional areas, called counties, are the governments they interact with the most. And alongside these local governments are groups of citizens who work on their own to make life better.
In this segment of a multi-part series, VOA's Jeffrey Young looks at how private organizations in Montgomery County, Maryland, provide job training to get people into productive careers.
What is junk in one house are jewels in another. And donating what is not wanted creates jobs for disadvantaged people.
Montgomery County, Maryland, a suburb of Washington, D.C., has plenty of job openings. But there are some people who are not in the workforce because of insufficient skills, disabilities, and other reasons. They need training and other help to get and keep a steady job.
That is where organizations such as Goodwill step in. Goodwill and similar nonprofit groups put people with employment problems into job training programs. The goal is to help give them careers they can build a future with.
One employee testimonial "I have a job here, and it's a good job."
People donate their unwanted clothes, furniture, and household items at a Goodwill collection center. They come in cars, in trucks, even pulling horse trailers. A donor commented, "Bringing stuff [household items] to Goodwill is a type of recycling for society. It's a shame to throw anything away. We have so much. And what is not useful to you is gold to somebody else.
Goodwill's Morris Garrett says you would not believe what comes in day after day. "Everything you could possibly imagine, from [stuffed and mounted] cow's heads to toys, boats, clothes, computers, laptops, radios - - everything is donated. Anything you could possibly want, you can probably find it here."
The crew taking in donations is constantly moving. Unloading cars, unloading trucks, sorting everything into racks and bins -- it never stops. Then the items are moved inside, where other workers put clothes on hangers and get other things ready for sale. Then, everything is put out in the store for people to buy.
The cash taken in goes to Goodwill's training programs to teach people skills so they can join the workforce.
Frederick Miriga came from Kenya. He was trained in Goodwill's hotel program and now works at the Hyatt Regency where he keeps the building's machinery running. Frederick says his training will be put to good use back in Kenya.
"The knowledge I will get from this place will really help me quite a lot to help the people, let's say the community, who are in need, lets say desperate need, of water systems."
There are other organizations in the community besides Goodwill that helps people get good jobs. One is Jobs Unlimited, in the Montgomery County city of Rockville. Brian Fields is the Operations Manager at Jobs Unlimited.
"Before I started working at Jobs Unlimited, I was a shut-in [recluse] for over three years. I've gotten off disability and am working full time. I'm renting a room and paying my rent. And, my life is moving forward."
In counties and cities across the United States, Goodwill and other organizations are addressing community needs by helping those who have largely been left behind. And the job training that these groups provide enables those receiving it to have the dignity that comes from being a productive member of society.