Palm Coast, FL – During the Great Recession it was a time of upheaval as communities faced unprecedented economic turmoil as homes and jobs were lost.

Among those facing employment challenges was David Rey, who lost his job and was unemployed for nearly a year. Finding his place in the workforce, Rey was on hand last week to cut the ribbon on the CEO of Goodwill Industries of North Florida’s newest location in Palm Coast.

“A very successful career. I lost my job in 2009 and was unemployed for almost a year. Highly credentialed, educated, great experience, could not find employment for a year. Hopped around for a little bit and then I sought out an opportunity to become a member of a nonprofit and Goodwill was available. The minute I started with them I fell in love with the mission. Removing barriers to employment. I really connect with it, I understand the difficulties of not having a living wage, of not being employed, of not having opportunity to obtain certification or support to get there. This company, this organization, this movement that’s been around since 1902 just called to me. Since January 2011, absolutely love it.”

As a company known for their support of workforce development, the location is embarking on a unique value proposition as they partner with the Flagler County Education Foundation to provide soft skills training to students through employment opportunities.

Supported by City of Palm Coast Mayor David Alfin, the collaboration is delighting education foundation director Teresa Rizzo, who is looking forward to fine-tuning the details.

“Goodwill is offering Flagler Schools an opportunity to train students to be workforce ready and soft skills in retail from the back of the house to the front of the house, so that was part of Mayor Alfin’s initiative with this and including the education foundation, we’re just honored to be a part of this,” said Rizzo.

“What a great opportunity for our students to be able to learn these skills and be able to work with such a great company.”

Alfin, who sits on the board of directors for the Flagler County Education Foundation, has made creating opportunity for the next generation of Palm Coast residents a pillar of his advocacy as mayor, and was pleased to announce the collaboration with Goodwill for students.

“Goodwill is such a strong brand, I’m so happy to have them here in Palm Coast,” said Alfin. “Goodwill will not only offer a great deal to our local residents, they are going to employ students from our flagship programs to learn the soft skills that are necessary to work with the public and all the logistical backup work that’s done in the store.”

“We have a great collaboration with the executive management of the local Goodwill store and they are very much about providing the employment opportunity for students. That’s the second way they make a huge investment for the present and the future here in Palm Coast,” he said.

The new location on Palm Coast Parkway next door to the Wendy’s replaces the smaller store with an expansive storefront. The boutique style décor is a far cry from the cramped previous location and shoppers were excited to grab a buggy and find a deal.

Goodwill Industries of North Florida’s Chief Mission Officer Dr. Linda Woodard says the new look and feel of the Palm Coast Goodwill location is the model the company is transitioning into, so space will be available under the same rooftop for their local training and workforce center.

“All of the stores are transforming. Not just boutique style but we’re also bringing the career centers into the stores so that people can have the whole experience from buying to getting a job or seeking career advice, in the same facility,” said Woodard.

“We’re moving all of our stores to that and sooner or later this one will be in that vein as well. We want the community to have a one stop experience, and our mission is of course, to remove barriers so people can get good jobs through education and training. Every donation helps fund the mission,” she said.

Watching shoppers filling up carts, Rey was thrilled with the new location’s success.

“We’re just super excited. Not only the opportunity here but the additional employment, the additional training and working with together with Mayor Alfin, putting us in touch with the education foundation, we have a lot of great things to come here in Palm Coast,” he said.

“We’ve been here for a few decades now and it’s great to see the community grow and us along with it.”

The Palm Coast Goodwill Store is now located at 420 Palm Coast Parkway, SW. Open 10 am to 7 pm Monday through Saturday, and 10 am to 6 pm on Sunday.