Black background with a grey heart

An Open Letter to Our Goodwill Team Members

June 3, 2020

Dear Goodwill of Orange County Team:

When I watched the graphic video of George Floyd killed by the knees of a police officer, I was shocked, angry and heartbroken. I thought, “How could this be happening again? What is wrong with us? Have we not learned?”

What happened to George Floyd and Ahmaud Arbery and the countless black men and women before them was clearly wrong and should never be tolerated.

As I read the social media posts of some of my closest black friends, I realized something very important--they are not shocked about the passing of George Floyd and Aumaud Arbery. Yes, they are angry, but they are also exhausted. They are exhausted trying to convince people like me that racism still exists in America.

Several of my friends are mothers of black sons. They have to constantly worry about their sons’ safety and live in fear that they will die unjustly because of the color of their skin. I can hear in the voices of my black friends, “Do you believe me now? It’s time for you to take this burden from us. We are tired. We need your help.”

I will never know what it’s like to live with this kind of fear or racial discrimination. But in my leadership position at Goodwill of Orange County and in our greater Orange County community, I am committed to listening, learning and being part of the solution.

Many of our team members and program participants have experienced racism and discrimination throughout their lives. While we have policies in place to protect our team members from racial discrimination, there’s more we can do and, in fact, there’s more we WILL do to create a culture that ensures everyone truly feels accepted and valued in our workplace.

Goodwill has always been a voice and advocate for people with disabilities and other barriers who don’t have a voice. It is part of our DNA as an organization to ensure that people we serve are given equal opportunities to work and enjoy their highest levels of personal and economic independence.

As I think about our core values to be kind, honest, helpful and creative, I recognize that this is an important moment in time to lean on our values even more and come together as a team to start authentic, and even difficult, conversations about how we can be even more committed to diversity, equity and inclusion at Goodwill of Orange County.

I welcome your thoughts and ideas on how we can create one of the best places to work in Orange County—a workplace that makes you proud to say you work at Goodwill of Orange County.

My hope and prayer is that when we do the hard work together at Goodwill of Orange County, we will create a ripple effect of good in our families and neighborhoods that ensures that racial injustice and inequality is a virus we can end together for GOOD.

Standing in solidarity,

Nicole Suydam