Give people an opportunity to move forward and you’ll often see their success take off.
That’s true for Brycen Smith, the featured student in this issue of the Goodwill Ambassador. He’s learning aviation manufacturing in our Youth Aerospace Program (YAP) and is earning college credit through Everett Community College. His life is taking off. Looking back on his difficult childhood, Brycen saw YAP as an opportunity to change the direction of his life and build a successful future.
Every day at Goodwill we connect people with opportunities. Classes help English learners be more comfortable talking with others. Our job placement specialists work diligently to pair job seekers with employers. Bus passes, eyeglasses, child care referrals and professional clothing vouchers help people overcome daily barriers and step forward toward new opportunities.
You are a critical part of clearing a path to opportunities for people in need. Consider giving your time as a volunteer to tutor math students, serve as a computer lab assistant or help out at the fun and frenetic Glitter Sale. You can become a partner with a first-time financial gift, or increase your level of support if you’ve given previously. After reading about one of our partners, Candy Lee, you’ll learn about even more opportunities to connect with Goodwill.
Thank you for your vital support of the Goodwill mission, which helps people gain access to opportunities to become self-sufficient. Your collaboration makes these life-changing programs possible for so many.
Brycen wasn’t paying too much attention to the guest speaker in his high school manufacturing class. He thought he’d heard it all before.
Suddenly, the man’s message piqued his interest. This was different.
“I raised my head and started listening to this guy and all the opportunity he talked about,” Brycen said. “It wasn’t a college thing. It wasn’t a schooling thing. I thought, ‘This is a program meant to help people.’ I had this feeling that it would carry me into the next step in life.”
That was the first step in a transformative experience for Brycen. That day he learned about Seattle Goodwill’s Youth Aerospace Program (YAP), which focuses on aviation manufacturing training and guides youth through their final year of high school, first year of community college and subsequent job placement in the field.
The program helps youth develop knowledge, skills and motivation to achieve in school. They also learn to contribute positively to the greater community, be competitive in the job market and successfully enroll in and complete postsecondary education.
Through the YAP, Brycen is enrolled in Everett Community College and is well on the path to building a bright future. That’s especially important given some of the hardships Brycen’s been dealt.
As a teen he moved from California to Washington, where he attended Snohomish High School as a sophomore. “My dad was a drug addict, and my birth mom was a drug addict,” Brycen said. “You can imagine there were a few complications with all of that. (Moving) wasn’t to get away from them, but rather it was to get a new start in life, because from day one it’s been like all-the-odds-against-us kind of thing.”
Goodwill’s YAP has been a blessing, Brycen said. He’s forged lasting friendships while charting a path to a career that will help him one day support a family of his own—one of his largest life goals.
“With the knowledge Goodwill has gifted me with, their support and my faith, it’s like I’m unstoppable at this point,” Brycen said. “It’s really this amazing feeling. For the first time in my life things are actually working, and that is just inspiring. The ultimate goal is to have a wife and family and really provide for them. When I was young that was stolen from me. The best way to fulfill that in my life is to recreate that myself, so I’m going to do it.”
He hopes to one day give back to Goodwill, as it has provided him the necessary tools needed to achieve his dreams.
“Just by talking to a few people and seeing, it feels like people at Goodwill have this love in their eyes for people they meet,” Brycen said. “It just really inspires me. I know for the rest of my life I will be grateful to Goodwill.”
Before Candy Lee began making financial gifts to Seattle Goodwill, she offered an impactful donation of time and effort to help Goodwill overcome adversity.
High wind and heavy rain flooded Seattle Goodwill’s administrative building in December 2006. Operations were crippled for several weeks.
“I was friends with (former Seattle Goodwill CEO) Ken Colling at Rotary when Goodwill got flooded,” Candy explained. “I said, ‘Well, let’s have a painting party.’ A Rotarian donated paint, we had 60-something volunteers and in two days we painted the entire thing.”
Candy has shopped at and made material donations to Seattle Goodwill all her life, but truly learned about the mission during that refurbishing project.
“The most eye-opening thing for me was learning that students come in to the Goodwill program making an average of $8,000 per year and come out making $24,000 per year,” Candy said. “That’s a 200 percent pay raise. Enabling people who want to do something to go forward was most compelling to me.”
Candy, who owned a national investment brokerage company at the time, wanted to learn other ways she could support the organization.
Because of her financial expertise, Candy began volunteering by offering advice on how to start a planned giving program, a new frontier for Seattle Goodwill. That translated to her joining the development committee, a subcommittee of Goodwill’s board of directors, and volunteering on other advisory committees. She and her husband later joined Goodwill’s Legacy Circle by naming Seattle Goodwill as a beneficiary in their estate plan.
Candy’s belief in giving back has been passed down to her daughter, Melissa. A college professor and motivational speaker, Melissa packs light when she travels because she picks up items from Goodwill stores along the way.
“I have always believed wealth is accumulated by providing a greater good for those we care for. The more you give the more you will receive in life,” Candy said. “Goodwill is one of the best returns on my investments.”
And while Candy has been so gracious in her gift of time, expertise and financial gifts to Seattle Goodwill, there is one gift in her mind that stands above the rest.
“I really liked the painting project,” Candy laughed. “That was quite an accomplishment.”
All that glitters is graduation gold for 27 people who now have their high school diplomas.
Proceeds from last year’s Glitter Gala supported Seattle Goodwill’s two high school completion programs. The new High School 21+ program has enrolled 76 students since it was launched last year. Growth is expected as the program is now offered at all nine Goodwill job training centers.
“We’re grateful to all our Gala partners. With their support, people have an opportunity to achieve an important educational milestone,” said Jahna Hildebrandt, Seattle Goodwill philanthropy manager.
High School 21+ is offered in partnership with local colleges. Goodwill provides support services and matches students with the community college program that best meets their educational and personal needs. The colleges award diplomas to students when they complete the equivalent high school course work.
For some, the GED® is a better fit, so Goodwill also offers basic skills and test preparation classes. Increasing their math, writing and computer skills helps people prepare to take the online GED® test to earn their high school completion credential.
“Completing high school is prerequisite for many positions. Together, we are increasing students’ employability so they can get a job and support themselves and their families,” Jahna said.
To fans of the annual glitter events: mark your calendars for the 10th annual Glitter Gala on November 4, 2017 and the 34th annual Glitter Sale on November 11 and 12. More details will be available at seattlegoodwill.org/glittergala in the months ahead.
Thank you to the 2016 Glitter Gala Sponsors
HomeStreet Bank, Nordstrom, Inc.
Comcast, JP Morgan Chase
USI Kibble & Prentice
Alaska Airlines, Complete Office, Foushée, Jackson | Main Architecture, Lamar, Safeway, Short Cressman & Burgess PLLC, UPS Mail Innovation, Vulcan Inc.
Bank of America, COBRA, Daryl Campbell & Janel Johnson, Davis Wright Tremaine, eBay for Charity, Grand + Benedicts, Hagen, Kurth, Perman & Co., P.S., Holland America Line, Seattle Mariners, Urban Visions, Wallace Properties, Waste Management, Willis Towers Watson
CenturyLink, Market Supply & Distribution Inc., Martin and Alan Haddad, Sentry Industries