Law firm Greenberg Gross LLP donated $500,000 Thursday to Santa Ana-based Goodwill of Orange County to be used to boost Goodwill’s career counseling services, which will now be housed in the newly named Greenberg Gross Career Center.
Greenberg Gross is a business litigation firm based in Costa Mesa.
Goodwill Chief Executive Frank Talarico Jr. at the naming ceremony termed the gift “transformational.”
“Today is about the gift. Tomorrow is about the lives we’re going to change,” he said.
The money will allow Goodwill to more than double its workforce development services.
The charity helps thousands of people in Orange County who face barriers to employment, including military veterans and people with disabilities.
In 2011 firm name partners Wayne Gross and Alan Greenberg, while they were with Greenberg Traurig LLP, won a $50.3 million settlement on a counterclaim for real estate developer NCA.
They used the proceeds to form their own firm in 2013 and to address a need.
“What that verdict enabled us to do was give back,” Gross said.
“For us to be able to use our resources to help a place like this is very special,” Greenberg said.
Centers like Goodwill provide the type of job training needed in a changing Orange County economy.
Middle-skills jobs, those that don’t require a college degree, are growing here, according to the 2017 OC Community Indicator Survey. And then there are basic skills that people need, whatever the job opportunities are.
“We need young people to have better soft skills,” said Lucy Dunn, president of the Orange County Business Council. “Show up on time. Know how to write, to look someone in the eye when you talk to them. There’s an intrinsic value to working that can’t be denied.”
Anthony Bolanos agrees. The teen works at Goodwill’s Westminster store.
“I worked hard, I took all the classes,” said Bolanos, who was referred to Goodwill by Building Futures, a program that works with at-risk youth.
“I learned financial-literacy skills, I learned how to approach customers.”
Greenberg Gross has 20 attorneys, including its Los Angeles office, which opened in January, and a New York office.
In 2012 Goodwill’s Career Center served 9,000 job seekers. This year, it’s on pace to serve 25,000.