Goodwill Industries to reopen East Brainerd store, add job connection center

Staff Photo by Robin Rudd / The back part of Bones Smokehouse, left, is all that remains of the eatery. At right is the walls of the Goodwill store show extensive damage. The Chattanooga Area was hit by EF 3 tornado on the night of April 12, 2020.

Gena Weldon took over as head of the 97-year-old Goodwill Industries in Chattanooga last year and within her first four months as CEO she had to shut down all 17 of its resale shops due to the pandemic and respond to the demolition of Goodwill's top-selling store in a tornado.

"It's certainly been a challenging year," Weldon said of 2020.

But Weldon, the former chief financial officer of Goodwill Industries who succeeded the retiring Dennis Brice last year after 12 years with the agency, has responded to the challenges with a determination to make Goodwill more efficient and effective in its mission to help change lives through the power of work with other's generosity.

Goodwill was able to reopen 16 of its 17 stores a couple of months after the pandemic shut down the resale shops on March 23.