A Celebration of Goodwill through Ceramics

After a block’s worth of hard work, the Goodwill clients were ready to showcase their beautiful ceramic creations at the celebration Monday, Oct. 21. Garnished with a video documentary about Goodwill, catering and the star of the show, their pottery, clients of Goodwill were able to share the process of working with the clay to make plates and mugs.

Heather Brown talks to a Goodwill artist about his work.
Source: Abby Bridgett

Goodwill Industries is a non-profit organization whose missions is to advance the social and economic well-being of people who experience barriers to independence. Goodwill works with veterans and individuals with disabilities to help them find jobs and services they need, as well as day habilitation services like communication skills and use of public transportation to individuals who need them, as well as introducing them to new projects like ceramics to encourage creativity.


This showcase all began when Katie Wilson, the head of Civic Engagement Center, contacted Heather Brown, a non-traditional student who just graduated this block with a double major in psychology and studio art, and asked her if she would like to spearhead this project. It involved working with the Goodwill clients in teaching them how to make the pottery and then also painting it. They met three times a week during first block in the McWethy Art Building.

Members of the community discuss the project.
Source: Abby Bridgett


“We don’t always have the opportunity to work with the same clients for this amount of time and it was so nice to see them grow and be challenged,” said day habilitation trainer, Mike Wilhelm, who helped Brown with the projects.


Each of the clients who took part in the project created two pieces; one that signified the fiftieth anniversary of Goodwill, and the other a personal piece determined by the creator. These varied from a red plate featuring a birthday cake to an Asian-style mug, featuring Cambodian mountains on a blue backdrop with no handle that meant something special to the creator with Cambodian ancestry.

Katie Wilson of the Civic Engagement Center talks to a Goodwill artist
Source: Abby Bridgett

Goodwill will always be an extremely important organization at Cornell because its founder, Edgar J. Helms, was a graduate. Along with the major impact that Goodwill has made nationwide, it is also important to note the individual and extremely personal impacts that have been made.

A table showcasing the various pieces.
Source: Abby Bridgett

“Another great thing about the project was that some of the clients said that because of this experience and the skills that they gained, they wanted to continue this work with art,” said Brown. Participating in the project made a lifetime impact on some of the clients. Projects that combine community outreach with clients of Goodwill is one of goals Helms envisioned for Goodwill, and it is wonderful that his alma mater could help accomplish this in his memory.


Abby Bridgett, Staff Writer