Goodwill Faces: New Beginnings
December 21, 2016
Raul worked at a bank for more than 30 years before retiring. In need of extra money for retirement and wanting to work in another industry other than finance, Raul sought out Goodwill’s free Job Training and Education Programs after a recommendation from his wife. Raul completed Goodwill’s Cashiering and Customer Service Program last year, and is taking Microsoft Word and Excel courses. He landed a job working for Highline Public Schools and is confident his added skillsets will benefit his job future.
“I have more opportunity to get a job. I am learning new things here at Goodwill. All of them, every class I attended I need for applying for another job, so every single class has been good. Whenever I had a job interview, I would go here first and get their input. They are always open and willing to help people like me. That’s why I am so happy we have this. All I can say is I am blessed and happy to be part of Goodwill.” – Raul
When Theresa began shopping at Goodwill, she loved everything the store had to offer. She knew Goodwill had a mission, but she didn’t know what that mission was. It wasn’t until she attended the Glitter Sale and decided to volunteer that she discovered how Goodwill impacts so many lives through its Job Training and Education Programs. Theresa has become a staple in Goodwill’s volunteer fabric, and has donated upward of 100 hours working the Design Challenge, Glitter Gala, Glitter Sale and acting as a Goodwill Ambassador. She’s found numerous ways to utilize her clothing design background as a volunteer.
“I went to the University of Washington and five days after I graduated I got hit by a drunk driver, declared dead. I was your basic, normal person. I was really hurt. I was in a wheelchair for a long time. I got some nice beauty marks from it, and my face really got messed up. I remember people; I would go in places. I was younger one time and my parents took me into this place and one lady left. She said, ‘I can’t even look at somebody like her.’ People talked to me like I was developmentally delayed. It just kind of brought this thing out in me where, if you don’t like how I look now, guess what? It really gave me this whole strength to look different. Over the years, I look normal again. But it really gave me this desire, comfort to look different. So when I was a lawyer, I was in the Madonna phase and wore white little gloves and I thought it was so fun when the people couldn’t figure out who the lawyer was. They didn’t know if I was the defendant or the client. It’s always been a fun thing for me dressing up and a way to express myself. Nothing super outlandish, but I also enjoy making things.”
“One of the things I like about (volunteering at Goodwill) so much is that you know what you are supposed to do. I always say this, ‘If you volunteer with Goodwill, you always know when you are supposed to be there, you know when you get to leave, and you don’t stand around there and say, ‘what am I supposed to do?’ It’s my time and the fact, it’s not like community service and you’re on parole or something. This is you actually doing something. You don’t feel like you’re wasting your time. Some volunteer things, God bless the people who stand out there and hand out cookies, but it’s not that. You’re really doing something. I appreciate that. Its super well organized. You always get something nice. You get a T-Shirt or something to eat, you get a break and you don’t have to feel like, ‘Oh, I’m volunteering and now I’m stuck here for four hours.’ It’s very well organized, and I really like that. You see a tangible result. Whether it be sorting jewelry, untangling chains, you eventually see the result of that. A lot of times when you do things that’s monetary, you don’t really see the result.” - Theresa Olson
Keeping a promise to her late father-in-law that she would take care of her mother-in-law who suffered from dementia, Jackie was out of work for two years while she upheld that commitment. Jackie wanted to return to work after her mother-in-law’s passing, but she had never earned her high school diploma. She’d always been referred into her jobs. This time, though, she wanted her diploma while job hunting. Jackie was introduced to Goodwill’s job training and education programs, recently earned her High School 21+ diploma and is now taking Microsoft Word and Excel courses through Goodwill that she’s confident will help her land the job she’s looking for.
“Investigating and looking for jobs, it’s a big deal now (to have a diploma). I used to be able to check that box, show my resume and prove myself and nobody had to know that I didn’t finish high school, because my resume spoke for itself. You can’t do that now with all the competition, but that’s OK. I feel really good about it. It was just like one of those things off the bucket list. I came in here for the pretest, and the ball just started rolling. They took care of me, and said, ‘You know, the 21+ program would be best for you.’ I got to spend more time here in the GED class, and that was great. I just love how nice everybody is. It’s just wonderful.” – Jackie
Yibarek is a man of many skills and talents. In his home country of Ethiopia, he worked in computer hardware engineering, owned a sign-making advertising business, managed a spice company, and is an outstanding handyman. But Yibarek left most of that behind when he moved to Seattle in 2011 after marrying his wife who lived in America. The transition was difficult at first, but Yibarek was referred to Seattle Goodwill from an old college director he knew from Ethiopia, and once Yibarek came to Goodwill he began making strong connections with Job Training and Education staff. He took Microsoft Word and Excel classes and was able to display his many other skills, which led to a job working in Goodwill’s Online Department. Now Yibarek daily utilizes his handyman abilities, caring for Seattle Goodwill’s store locations as a maintenance worker. He takes great pride in working for Goodwill, has won an employee of the year award and even spent three weeks of his personal time crafting a sign for the 33rd Annual Glitter Sale.
“This is my second home, you know. My first home is my daughters and my wife. Coming here was a big transition. When I come here, I tell myself, ‘Yibarek, when you come to America, you have to start from scratch. Don’t think your ability, don’t think your property, don’t think your country’s thing.’ Nine thousand seven hundred people this year (Goodwill) helped. That makes me glad, you know. This is a good job. It’s all by donation. We work very hard in maintenance. I like Goodwill, and I’m learning. Every day I’m learning until I die.” -Yibarek
Andrew is a Content Specialist for Seattle Goodwill and has a wealth of writing, communication and digital media experience. He loves all things sports related and owns a treasure trove of memorabilia. He also enjoys storytelling, the outdoors and sugar is his kryptonite.
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