GREEN PROJECT: Goodwill Industries of Fort Worth, Greenworks program

Description of Individual or Organization

Goodwill is more than a thrift store. The largest employer of people with disabilities in the world, Goodwill believes that work has the power to transform lives by building self-confidence, independence, creativity, trust and friendships. Everyone deserves this chance. 

Goodwill Fort Worth’s 25 retail locations provide revenue through the sale of donated goods to support Goodwill’s mission - job training and career services for people with disabilities, such as physical or mental disabilities and other barriers to employment including lack of education or work experience and to vulnerable populations including the homeless, at-risk youth, veterans and the formerly incarcerated.

Leadership (Nominee demonstrates leadership through example, knowledge, attitude)

Goodwill Fort Worth opened the GreenWorks Learning Center in May 2017. GreenWorks is a greenhouse located at Tarrant County Resource Connection. Goodwill received a $45,000 grant from the Hoblitzelle Foundation for construction of the greenhouse, which is used for Goodwill’s S.T.A.R.S. program. 

S.T.A.R.S. is a unique day-habilitation program for adults with significant disabilities that recreates daily living scenarios to give participants a chance to learn real life skills to overcome their disadvantages and achieve maximum independence. At GreenWorks, they participate in weekly horticulture therapy and lessons on growing plants.

The ultimate vision is for the greenhouse to also be used for Goodwill’s Work Adjustment Training clients, where they would learn the skills necessary to work in a commercial greenhouse or for a landscaping company. A dream vision is the construction of a restaurant which will serve vegetables grown in our own greenhouses, and in which Goodwill can provide job training in culinary arts and restaurant professions.

STARS at the Greenworks Learning Center

Environmental Impact (Nominee demonstrates a positive impact on the local environment via policy change, product offering, significant volunteer contribution or other achievement)

Progress is tracked by the number of hours of training that the S.T.A.R.S. participants receive at the GreenWorks Learning Center. In 2019, five to nine S.T.A.R.S. participants attended classes each Wednesday for 2.5 hours at the greenhouse. This represents approximately 910 hours of learning for adults with disabilities donated by the Tarrant County Master Gardeners in 2019 alone.

In addition to growing plants, S.T.A.R.S. participants also worked with the Tarrant County Master Gardeners in their composting project on-site. And, coffee grounds from Goodwill Fort Worth’s corporate headquarters were delivered weekly to the composting area to be reused there instead of ending up in the landfill.

Community Impact (Nominee demonstrates commitment to DFW green community through involvement with causes, business ventures or organizations)

GreenWorks was developed in partnership with Resource Connection of Tarrant County, Tarrant County Master Gardener Association and Texas A&M AgriLife Extension. The Tarrant County Master Gardener Association generously donates their time each week to provide lessons on planting, growing and caring for seedlings and other plant material to the S.T.A.R.S. participants.

S.T.A.R.S. participants also partook in a planting project at Alice Carlson Applied Learning Center in Fort Worth ISD. S.T.A.R.S. participants delivered young vegetable plants including Indian mustard, kale, broccoli and cabbage that they grew from seeds at the GreenWorks learning center to fourth grade students at Alice Carlson Applied Learning Center. The students then planted the young vegetable plants with the assistance of Tarrant County Master Gardener Association in the schools Outdoor Learning education garden and cared for the plants during their recess. Once fully grown, the students donated the vegetables to the food pantry at University Baptist Church.

STARS at Alice Carlson

In addition, S.T.A.R.S. participants join the Tarrant County Master Gardeners at the Tarrant County Employee Appreciation Day each year to assist them in selling some of the plants they grew from seedlings during their annual plant sale. 

STARS Plant Sale

And in August of 2019, S.T.A.R.S. participants helped Tarrant County Master Gardeners with a planting project at the Resource Connection of Tarrant County along with Tarrant Regional Water District and Water University - Texas A&M AgriLife Research Center – Dallas. This allowed participants to put the horticulture skills they learned at the GreenWorks Learning Center to good use!

GreenWorks Planting Project

Other reasons for your nomination

Participants benefit greatly from the program. Some individuals, such as Pedro Cordero who was previously very quiet and reserved, have blossomed through their participation in this meaningful program. 

Pedro - Meet the STARS