Meet the Team: President and CEO of Goodwill Central Texas, Jerry Davis

Part of the Housing First philosophy is to provide residents with wrap-around services that help them re-integrate into the community. Our partnership with Goodwill will provide employment assistance to Housing First Oak Springs residents.  Read what Goodwill CEO, Jerry Davis had to say about the importance of providing employment assistance to individuals living with mental illness.

jerrydavisjp-750How will GW support our efforts with Housing First Oak Springs?

I started my career working in mental health before coming to GW and I have always been invested in working in this area. GW serves a lot of people with mental illness and understands the benefit they can provide all of us when they are working.

People with mental illness have an unseen disability. Goodwill believes supporting them with case managers that understand the challenges they face, and who want to help them work through them is a great way to get them into the workforce.

What is your philosophy for supporting people who live with mental illness?

Our philosophy is that we want to be where people are. We go to the same grocery store and movie theaters and want to be a convenient part of the community. Having Goodwill operating in the Arch, Safe Place and Caritas allows folks living with mental illness to get their immediate needs met. Then, once they begin to think about working again, Goodwill can be in their lives and available to help with that next step. Having Goodwill within Housing First Oak Springs is an extension of that philosophy.

The rising cost in livability is eliminating a lot of housing options for people. How is Goodwill doing its part to address this dilemma?

Every day, there are more people that need services in Austin. People are motivated to come in from out of town and follow opportunities even though they may not have the resources to attain those opportunities. Goodwill’s job placement and training services allow people with complex needs to find solutions that result in the recognition of their productive value as employees. It just works.

Now, there are anywhere from 200,000-500,000 people in need of our services and they sense, like everyone else, that this is a place of opportunity. Goodwill understands that people with mental illness are people first and believes they can be contributing neighbors as well. We have a huge responsibility to the community and wonderful tools with which to serve it.