Phillip Keller helps Chrislin Balderas do a demonstration with the virtual welding training machine Wednesday at the Goodwill Training Facility on Western Avenue in South Bend. Staff photo by Michael Caterina
Phillip Keller helps Chrislin Balderas do a demonstration with the virtual welding training machine Wednesday at the Goodwill Training Facility on Western Avenue in South Bend. Staff photo by Michael Caterina
SOUTH BEND — There are no arcade games, free lunches, massage therapists or other cool perks at Goodwill Industries of Michiana, otherwise staples of Google’s northern California mega campus.

But for the past month, a couple of Google employees from Silicon Valley have been braving some pretty awful weather — even by our standards — to help Goodwill improve its overall efficiency so it can do an even better job providing job-training services throughout the region.

It’s no small task for Google data analyst Audris Teh and software engineer John Han. After all, Goodwill of Michiana operates more than 20 retail locations throughout a region that stretches from southeastern Chicago to Elkhart and from Niles down to Rochester. 

The money the stores generate is used to support job-training services at the core of Goodwill’s mission. In 2018, the non-profit agency reported it helped more than 14,000 people through job assistance and even the adult high schools it operates.

Teh and Han are part of a team of Google volunteers spending a month at 10 Goodwill locations across the country with the purpose of improving the efficiency and ultimately the job-training capabilities of the organization.

“They’re trying to make the data we collect more consistent and useful,” said Carrie Lee, a grant writer for Goodwill of Michiana.

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