NORTHWEST MIAMI-DADE, FLA. (WSVN) - Goodwill Industries of South Florida, a nonprofit organization dedicated to providing employment opportunities and skills training to individuals with disabilities or other barriers to work, offers a unique and inspiring tour of their flag-making operation.

“People know us as Goodwill because of our stores and that’s great but we are so much more than our stores,” said Lourdes de la Mata-Little, chief marketing officer of Goodwill Industries of South Florida. “What you see here today are the flags that we manufacture here.”

Located at their headquarters on 2125 N.W. 21st St., the facility is responsible for the production of 450 burial (or interment) flags daily, serving a vital role in honoring the service of those who have bravely served in the U.S. Armed Forces.

“So once the person who served passes away, the flag that you see on the caskets are the flags that we produce right here,” said Mata-Little. “These flags are later folded into triangles and presented to the families as an honor and memory of their loved one.”

Under a contract with the federal government, Goodwill Industries of South Florida supplies the Department of Veteran Affairs with the official 5 x 9.5 American flags used to drape the caskets of fallen military personnel.

In addition, they manufacture the 3 x 5 feet flags that can be displayed outside homes across the country, showcasing patriotism and support for our armed forces.

What makes this flag-making operation truly remarkable is the workforce behind it. More than 860 individuals, ranging from adults with autism and Down syndrome to those with physical and emotional challenges, contribute their skills and dedication to the manufacturing process.

“We’re making the most important symbol of our country, the United States flag that represents freedom, and yet we are also providing people with disabilities a chance for their own freedom and independence by teaching them work skills to help them be on their way and reach their maximum potential,” said Mata-Little.

Goodwill Industries of South Florida believes in providing equal opportunities for all, and these individuals are living proof of the incredible potential that lies within each person, regardless of their disabilities.

Over the past year, Goodwill Industries of South Florida has made a significant impact on the lives of individuals with developmental and intellectual disabilities.

In addition to the flag production, Goodwill Industries of South Florida’s apparel manufacturing division also plays a crucial role in supporting the Department of Defense (DOD). The dedicated workforce produces military apparel for the DOD, further highlighting their commitment to serving the nation and providing valuable job opportunities.

Through their life skills training programs and job fundamentals, they served more than 4,500 adults, equipping them with the necessary tools to lead independent and fulfilling lives. Impressively, 48 trainees were successfully placed in competitive outside jobs, and an additional 1,114 individuals currently work within Goodwill’s various operations.

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