Goodwill will be returning to the Toronto area after the organization abruptly closed stores across the province at the beginning of the year, leaving 450 people out of work.
The company filed for bankruptcy protection in February, following the abrupt closure of 16 stores and 10 donation centres in the Greater Toronto Area, Barrie, Orillia, and Brockville.
At the time, the company said it was exploring options for a restructuring plan, but conceded in February that it had found “no viable option that allows the organization to re-emerge from the bankruptcy process.”
Keiko Nakamura also announced her resignation as head of Goodwill Industries of Toronto, Eastern, Central and Northern Ontario (TECNO) in February, saying “there is no longer a role for a CEO” since proceedings were in the hands of a bankruptcy trustee.
The organization declared debts of $6 million, including $4.2 million owed to employees in salary and other obligations in February.
“This past year, in some communities across Ontario, Goodwill’s mission was lost at a time when it was never more relevant,” Goodwill Industries, Ontario Great Lakes president and CEO Michelle Quintyn said in a statement.
“Goodwill Industries, Ontario Great Lakes … has been granted the privilege and opportunity to expand services and contribute to the renewal and revitalization of Goodwill across Toronto and surrounding metropolitan areas, Central and Eastern Ontario.”
Quintyn said the goal of the revitalization was to re-establish Goodwill stores in the Toronto area through established infrastructure, experienced leadership, sufficient resources and community support.
She added that as many as 500 jobs could be created in the next five years and the company anticipates the first round of new employment opportunities will begin early next year.
Quintyn also said the non-profit organization is well positioned to take on the challenge without meeting the same fate as the Toronto Goodwill.
Former Goodwill employee Raphelia Debique told Global News in March she was in a desperate situation after running out of money following the store closures, and was out of options for a place to live after her $12-an-hour income was abruptly cut off.
After securing a job with a cleaning company weeks later, Debique said she could “breathe” again.
Debique’s story touched many people across the province, including the woman who would eventually become her new boss.
Sheri-Anne Woolley helped Debique with her back rent, trained her as a cleaner and gave her a full-time job, which meant Debique could keep her own home.
Debique said that after almost nine years of service at Goodwill, she would end up with less than $2,500 of the more than $10,000 owed to her.