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Can Goodwill Make a Better Appearance along Uptown 23rd?

For the past several weeks readers have expressed dismay over the opening of the new Goodwill donation center that opened at NW 23 and Walker earlier this year.

I visited with Goodwill of Central Oklahoma CEO Chris Daniels and he agrees the building on NW 23 does not match up well with the standards they’ve set at other donation centers.In response to such questions, Daniel has arranged with the owner to remove the gas signs and is looking at how to improve landscaping around the property.

He acknowledged the donation center is less than a mile away from one they already operate at NW 23 and Pennsylvania Avenue, but he added such proximity is part of Goodwill’s effort to ensure donors have easy and quick access.

“It depends on population density and traffic patterns,” Daniels said. “There are spots in the city where we have three within a mile of each other. This one is taking off well with 300 to 400 donations a month.”

That said, Daniels said he is going to talk to the property owner about fixing up the parking lot, which has a lot of weeds, doing something with the old gas station sign, and removing the bars from the windows.

“Is it the best looking building in the area, especially with all that is going on in up?” Daniels asked. “I can’t say it is. At least we put a fresh coat of paint on it. But it’s not our building to change. We can’t renovate what we don’t own.”

Goodwill is an important agency in Oklahoma City, employing 800 people who provide services to 19,000 people with various impairments. I don’t hear anyone criticizing the mission of Goodwill – but plenty of people are unhappy with this particular donation center.

I asked Daniels if the donation center is really the best and highest use for such a prominent corner.

“Our mindset was this would continue to be an ill-fitted gas station selling cigarettes, than from our perspective, we were a better use than that,” Daniels responded.

The gas station, however, closed before Goodwill sought and secured a five-year lease for the property. I asked Daniels if there wasn’t a possibility their deal precluded the opportunity for something better to have occurred. He agreed that possibility exists.

“We’re doing everything we can to benefit the city and the communities we go into,” Daniels said. “We try to be sensitive to that.”

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Steve Lackmeyer

Steve Lackmeyer is a reporter, columnist and author who started his career at The Oklahoman in 1990. Since then, he has won numerous awards for his coverage, which included the 1995 bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building, the city's... Read more ›