After developing the Goodwill Career Center in Dawson County for five years, Tara Hardwick has been named as the new Workforce Development and Education Manager for The Place of Dawson and Forsyth Counties.
According to Hardwick, she first started her job as Lead Career Coach at Goodwill when the Dawsonville location first opened five years ago. Through this position, she had the opportunity to work with dozens of businesses and other organizations in Dawson and surrounding counties.
That’s how she first learned about The Place, Hardwick said.
“I first became aware of The Place five years ago when I came to the Goodwill Career Center, and I always thought that it was a wonderful organization,” Hardwick said. “I was so happy to be able to partner with them, so now for me to actually be able to be in this position is even better.”
Joni Smith, President and CEO of The Place, said that she and the rest of the organization’s leadership are excited to have Hardwick join their organization.
“Our workforce and education development program is one of our most important services in our mission to help families become self-sustaining,” Smith said. “Tara brings exceptional talent and experience to enhance the program, but also warmth and hospitality to meet our clients in a time of difficulty and stress.”
Hardwick said that she is looking forward to settling into her new position and working toward her goal of serving the community by helping job seekers find employment.
“I’m thrilled for the opportunity; I feel like it’s where I can really best use my talents to better this community which is what it’s all about,” Hardwick said. “I’m excited, I'm looking forward to it, and it’s just another opportunity to continue to serve the community.”
Through partnering with The Place at Goodwill, Hardwick grew to learn more about the organization, and when the previous workforce development and education manager retired an opportunity opened for Hardwick to fill the vacated role.
In her new position with The Place, Hardwick said that she plans on continuing the goals already in motion while at the same time working to incorporate her experience and unique perspective of the needs of Dawson County.
“I want to replicate a lot of what they were already doing, and I want to then maybe put my own spin on things with some of the needs that I see in the community,” Hardwick said. "I’m on the Development Authority of Dawson County so I do have a pretty good angle on things from that and I do study our workforce quite a bit, so I feel like I’ll be able to maybe bring some enhancements just based on what I see as some of the community needs and the demographic information that I’m constantly studying.”
As workforce development and education manager, Hardwick will be responsible for helping job seekers find job leads, partnering job seekers with the right employer and providing The Place’s clients with the education or certification needed to reach their goals. Much of what she’ll be doing at The Place is very similar to what she’s been doing for five years with Goodwill, so Hardwick said that the community connections and partnerships she already has will help her with her transition between jobs easily.
“I feel like I am pretty entrenched in the community already,” Hardwick said. “We’ll be doing job fairs and partnering with local employers, and I feel like the relationships are already in place so all of that will be continued.”
Hardwick said that, since first starting with the Goodwill Career Center five years ago, she feels like she has helped build the center up to a point where people can take over where she left off.
In the end, Hardwick said that she’ll be working toward the same goal she was reaching for in her previous position: serving and helping to better the Dawson County community
“We’re all in this together and many hands make light work; serving the community is what it’s all about,” Hardwick said. “We can’t have too many resources in our community, so we need everything that we can get.”