Goodwill leader marks milestone

DeWayne Bartels
Patty Fuchs has been CEO of Goodwill Industries of Central Illinois for 15 years.

Patty Fuchs, at the end of April, hit a milestone at Goodwill Industries of Central Illinois.

She marked 15 years as president/CEO of the non-profit.

A week later, she won the Edith A. Cohen Business and Industry Award at the YWCA Leadership Luncheon, an award given to a woman who exhibits leadership in a local business, not-for-profit or governmental body.

Her longevity and the award, however, are not the things Fuchs is most proud of. What she takes pride in, is working with a group of people who turned the reputation of the agency around, and turned it into a growing concern.

Fuchs remembers well the agency’s reputation when she walked in the door.

“I remember when I took the job, I had a lot of people say, ‘Why would you ever take a job like that?’ Goodwill here did not have a good reputation,” Fuchs said.

Goodwill’s reputation was in tatters because it was not paying its bills to the tune of $100,000. Upon taking the job, she learned what was owed, and who it was owed to. She set up a payment plan and stuck to it.

When Fuchs started with Goodwill, it had annual revenues of $800,000 and 30 employees. Today, it has annual revenues of more than $4 million and 200 employees.  

When Fuchs took over, Goodwill of Central Illinois had five stores, a few trailers for donations and a warehouse that annually salvaged about 140,000 pounds of soft goods.

Today, there are eight stores, three donation centers, job training and career service operations in Galesburg and Peoria and the Goodwill Home for Veterans.

The agency now salvages more than 3 million pounds of goods annually.

Fuchs said she has found her calling at Goodwill.

For more on this story see the 6/4/08 issue of the Peoria Times-Observer.