May 22, 2017
Just over six years ago Keone was admitted to the Monroe Correctional Facility after being charged with a series of residential burglaries. He was hooked on drugs, had alienated the people he cared about and lost his friends, family and eventually himself. But two years into serving a 5 ½ year prison term, he began turning his life around. Keone earned his GED, took nearly every program the prison offered and found solace in working at the facility’s wastewater lagoon. He studied wastewater for over 3 years and led a class in which he taught 30-40 inmates every six months. Keone even got certified through the Washington State Department of Ecology. Months before his release, Keone took Goodwill’s New Connections class, which prepares inmates for a successful transition into the job market. Soon after Keone’s sentence ended, his fiancé’s father offered him a sales manager position at his sign and barricade equipment rental company. He has been excelling and working long hours to give back to the man who afforded him a second chance. Recently, Keone hosted a hiring event at Goodwill’s South Everett Job Training and Education Center, proudly stating he wanted to give people a shot who’ve also faced barriers in their lives.
“What got me in was I was a drug addict doing all the things that come with drug addicts—robbing, stealing, doing underhanded stuff. I wasn’t always like that. I just got hooked on drugs and everything else went with it. My plan was originally to do the class thing in there, do my resume and never see Goodwill again. But then I started going to class, and (Goodwill) had some other principles that I liked. I started thinking harder about my future. The Goodwill program helped because it gave me another perspective to look at. I want to give somebody a shot that nobody else will give a shot to. So I feel like if I’m in the position to give somebody a shot that somebody gave me, I feel like it’s my duty.”
Originally from Mexico, Gonzalo moved from California to Washington in 2011 and began taking classes at Goodwill’s Marysville Job Training and Education Center. He wanted to develop necessary skills in order to land a job. Gonzalo took English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) classes and soon was asked if he wanted to volunteer at the center. More than six years later Gonzalo has registered over 1,500 volunteer hours, working as a teacher’s aide and acting as an interpreter and translator for Spanish-speaking students. He volunteers every Monday through Thursday for three hours. Not only can Gonzalo connect with Hispanic students through conversation and culture, several years ago he earned his U.S. citizenship and serves as a testament to other students that gaining citizenship is achievable. Gonzalo hopes all the experience he’s gaining will lead to a job as a translator, and he loves the rewarding feeling of helping others build skills that will set them up for better economic opportunity.
“I enjoy helping my Hispanic community, but also I do something that helps me find the job that I want, which is translating. That is why I keep coming here. I love helping, especially after I help them and they say ‘thank you.’ That is what motivates me. It’s been a great time. I encourage other people to volunteer. I encourage you to come to Goodwill, and that can help you get the job that you want. I can show that volunteering is good. It is a good experience if you want training to get a job. Since I have been (volunteering) here for almost seven years I have met a lot of people and have had a lot of friends here at Goodwill.”
Sahily was exposed to fashion and design at an early age. Her grandmothers were both seamstresses, and she fondly remembers using sewing machines to make clothing for her dolls. Sahily, who grew up in south Florida, earned a communications degree with the hope of working in fashion PR. Along the way she created Pretty in Pigment, a fashion blog showcasing Sahily’s style, tips and personal journey as a plus-sized woman in the fashion world. Sahily hopes her blog empowers readers and gives them confidence to be defined by who they are and what they like to do, rather than their figure. She dealt with body issues growing up, but through her blog has gained self-confidence and hopes to share her message of body acceptance with fellow plus-size women. Recently Sahily has discovered a passion for thrifting and is a frequent Seattle Goodwill shopper. Goodwill offers a diverse selection of women’s clothing, in size and style, most retailers don’t, and Sahily loves making those hidden-treasure finds, or “unicorns,” as she put it.
“Not all stores carry plus-sized items, and if they do it’s an extra-large, and even that isn’t really covering a large enough scope of plus-size women. Goodwill has dedicated sections for plus sizes and not just a couple of items, but lots of times there is a full-blown rack. It’s nice because women are given the option to buy those things, and the price point is very reasonable. For me, in terms of my body, I’ve fluctuated in weight. I’ve had skinnier times. I’ve had bigger times. I learned through that process, especially as a kid growing up, that it can be hard when you are the bigger kid, and there were times where I felt uncomfortable with that. But through blogging, and particularly fashion blogging, it’s helped me kind of gain more confidence in myself, and kind of find that I am more than just a size or a certain body type. Goodwill has really given me an opportunity to explore my passion for thrifting deeper.”
Loanne was looking to gain computer skills, Cathie was teaching computer classes and now the pair are making a critical impact at Seattle Goodwill’s Bellingham Job Training and Education Center. After retiring from the Navy, Loanne wanted to volunteer but discovered she didn’t have the computer skills needed for many volunteer positions. She enrolled in Goodwill’s Computer Explorations class, and Loanne was then asked to stay on as a volunteer. That’s where she met her Goodwill instructor Cathie, who was also teaching computer courses at Bellingham Technical College. The duo has registered a combined 500-plus volunteer hours, helping students increase their digital literacy, opening new lines of communication and helping students increase their job readiness.
“I tell people the biggest thing we teach here is confidence. Some (students) who start don’t even know how to turn the computer on without help, and then a lot of them get stuck. They are feeling too dependent on other people, and this empowers them.”
“It just brings (the students) to that world where everyone else already is. They get more confident every class, and the pretty soon they are showing us how they can do stuff. And they are so happy about it.”
-CathieAdd a Comment | Comments (0)
April 26, 2017
During the early 1970s when the Vietnam War was in full force, Erik, who had only recently graduated high school, applied for and was granted conscientious objector status. Therefore, instead of being drafted, Erik for two years had to work at what was called a sheltered workshop—work that contributed to the community good. With only one week left to find work, Erik came across Seattle Goodwill while picking up gear for a backpacking trip. Erik was hired, and the two years he spent working at Goodwill provided him with plenty of special memories that still last today. Goodwill’s flagship store off Dearborn Street is where he first met his wife Vicki of 36 years, and he even contributed cartoons to Goodwill’s employee newsletter. Some of Erik’s fondest memories involved sorting through donations and finding locked suitcases, hoping him and his co-workers had stumbled across a treasured item trapped inside. Even back in the early 1970s, Erik said Goodwill placed an emphasis on workforce development. Supervisors were responsible for coaching employees on soft skills such as punctuality, work ethic and communication.
“On staff at the time was a chaplain. Every Wednesday morning anybody who wanted to get out of work for half an hour and go to a church service could do so. I was one of those guys. The chaplain would invite priests, pastors, rabbis, sometimes guest singers. One day a gal came in. Her name was Vicki. It was around Easter time, and she was a good singer. When chapel was over, they would open those doors and everybody would line up and shake the hand of the guest speaker. She was the guest that day, so 100 people shook her hand. I would always ask her, ‘Do you remember meeting me that day?’ She’d say no, but I remember meeting her. Because of the influence of the chaplain, I would end up going to church and that was the church she went to. We dated for a number of years and got married in 1977. We had a great 36 years together, and she passed away in 2013. I miss her still, but it was somewhat of a sacred moment (today) to see that turf where we met. Every day was an adventure (at Goodwill). It was a great two years. There were probably days where I wasn’t having so much fun, but I don’t remember those. I remember the good times.”
From growing up in Brooklyn, N.Y. to serving eight years in the military completing a tour in Iraq and another in Afghanistan, Eddie has traveled a long road to Seattle Goodwill, and along the way he has developed a strong passion for helping others. While in Iraq, Eddie connected with a military member who worked in human resources and decided he himself wanted to do HR work. During Eddie’s tour in Afghanistan he did just that. Eddie earned his human resources degree and connected with Seattle Goodwill after leaving the military, first earning a temporary position in Goodwill’s Job Training and Education Department that turned into a permanent role. Now he works as an employee education specialist, connecting Goodwill employees to the organization’s many benefits that place an emphasis on workforce development. He does store outreach, leads training workshops and is constantly looking out for employees’ best interests with his infectious personality.
“If we have an employee that says, ‘I am having homelessness issues,’ I want to take care of that. I want to show them where they can go to get help with that. I want to point them in the direction of our case managers we have in Job Training and Education. I want to connect the dots for them. My role in this company is to help every employee. It doesn’t matter if you are the lowest person or the highest person. I want to help you. Honestly, it’s a wonderful aspect to meet a lot of people, but you know what, I’m not happy that I’m affecting them. I’m happy they are affecting me. Because talking to people you learn so much. You learn a different culture. You learn a different lifestyle. You learn different problems and issues and how you can help them overcome them. Something that I was always told is that you should learn at least one thing new every day. So the fact I get the opportunity to talk to all these employees, I learn. And knowledge is power.”
Sharlese always knew she wanted to be involved in music in some capacity. When she was in high school, she’d record songs on the radio and use those to put together mixtapes for her listening pleasure. She’s been fortunate to make a career out her passion, working at Seattle radio station KEXP since 2007. The ability to make a career out of something you love was a message she delivered to participants in Seattle Goodwill’s youth programs during a past speaking opportunity, and that’s just one way she is connected to Goodwill. She’s a frequent shopper at the Capitol Hill Goodwill location and, now a KEXP DJ and events producer hosting Saturday’s Audioasis show from 6-9 pm, Sharlese has worked as an MC the past two years for Seattle Goodwill’s #breakup4good Earth Day concert, which encourages people to break up or donate an item to Goodwill for Earth Day. She’s excited to MC for the third year this spring on April 20 at the Tractor Tavern.
“The Break Up For Good event provides another way to promote local music, which is really fun and important. It’s also the music creativity and being able to put together a good bill that has people align themselves with something like Goodwill, which is really special and impressive. Not only is Goodwill a retail shop, it uses its funds to help people find jobs and get education and get into the work force. I think that is really special. Putting it together has really been a cool experience, and it is something I will never forget. I feel like coming together to support Goodwill is a really important thing.”
Ever since Paulina came to the United States 12 years ago from Tecate, Baja California in Mexico, she’s had her hands full raising a household full of kids. Her husband works long hours to provide for their family, so Paulina is left to take care of the children. Paulina never finished high school. She’s had a desire to, but has been too busy as a mother of four children to focus on her own career. Two years ago she caught a glimpse of South Everett’s Job Training and Education Center while traveling down the road and decided to look into what Seattle Goodwill had to offer. Paulina began taking Goodwill’s GED test preparation classes, and with a tremendous amount of hard work and persistence she earned her GED a month ago. Paulina has also taken Goodwill’s Microsoft Excel class and is currently in a Career Pathways course, as she hopes to go to college to become a teacher or a nurse.
“I see the street and say, ‘Oh, is that a learning center?’ Maybe I will go there and see what their requirements are to be a student. I don’t think about it, I just came. I was very nervous, because those years my English was not good. I came and turned in the papers and everybody was so friendly. I felt so comfortable. Getting my GED, I was so happy. I was almost jumping, so excited. I almost cried because all my teachers they see how I work hard. I know this is an example for my kids, and they can follow my steps. They see if my mother can do it, I can do it. I have a lot of friends that are single mothers, and they feel stuck. They ask, ‘Do you know a place for single mothers to come back to school?’ And I say, ‘Goodwill, they have helped me a lot.’ They see what I get step-by-step, and they want to come, and they say, ‘I want to go there. Tell me more about this place.’”
-PaulinaAdd a Comment | Comments (0)
April 12, 2017
Ellena Burke knew she needed to make a change. She had severed relationships and was dealing with a drug and alcohol addiction.
In order to get her life on track, Ellena needed a job and sought out Goodwill for help. After committing to sobriety she joined Goodwill’s Cashiering and Customer Service Program, which helped her develop invaluable soft skills needed to become a productive, successful employee.
“At Seattle Goodwill, I learned how to be assertive without being aggressive and how not to deal with things in a negative manner,” Ellena said. “I gained humility and how to keep my composure.”
Learning how to process adversity in a healthy manner, being assertive without being aggressive, having humility: those are all soft skills, which in today’s business world frequently get passed over in favor of technical skills.
But in all actuality 85 percent of job success comes from having well-developed soft skills, while the remaining 15 percent comes from savvy technical skills. Seventy-five percent of employers rate soft skills as more important than technical skills.
Seattle Goodwill through years of working with the hardest-to-serve communities—such as people suffering from mental illness and those new to the country searching for work—has identified the largest barriers obstructing those looking to find and maintain a job.
Soft skills such as integrity, responsibility, perseverance, work ethic and good communication, to name a few, are essential traits desired in the workforce. Particularly in the entry-level workforce, many job seekers lack these skills, and it’s a major underlying cause of unemployment.
So what does job success look like for those who are unemployed and facing barriers to better economic opportunity?
Success in the workplace is built off three pillars—soft skills, mentoring and guidance and overcoming logistical challenges.
When all three of these pillars are achieved, we consider prospective employees primed for work. At Seattle Goodwill, our programs seek to build our students’ soft skills. We connect students to mentors who can offer guidance, and we also offer resources to help students overcome logistical barriers.
Seattle Goodwill on a daily basis witnesses the impressive personal and professional growth that comes along with getting students primed for work. As part of our advocacy efforts, we have created a five-step action plan showing how you can help contribute to our community and help others become primed for work.
1) Ask what your organization is already doing, and then ask how you can help
Work with your HR professionals if you’re an organization leader to see how they are coping with the lack of entry-level employees being primed for work. See if there are places where you can provide more of the basic soft-skill knowledge to employees. See if you are hiring and training based on strong soft skills. Work with management to support entry-level workers.
2) Actively support the good work of others
Beyond Seattle Goodwill there are organizations such as Seattle Jobs Initiative, Venture, Seattle Colleges and The Prosperity Agenda that are placing an emphasis on training for soft skills and lobbying for more attention to be given to these barriers to employment and success. Find an organization committed to helping people be primed for work and support them.
3) Define what primed for work means at your organization and start measuring it
Promote ways to measure being primed for work. There are questionnaires and assessments that measure confidence, self-esteem and motivation. Lobby for their adoption, so these characteristics become key performance indicators for a company’s health.
4) Raise the issue, and talk about primed for work
Use your voice to increase awareness of the need to reduce the primed for work gap. Talk to you peers and colleagues about the importance of being primed for work.
5) Support legislation
Primed for work doesn’t only mean soft skills. It also means the non-tangible challenges that directly impact an employee’s ability to thrive. Legislation in support of primed for work could mean funding for soft skills training in high school nonprofits and community colleges, making transportation access more affordable, having affordable child care, etc.
Seattle Goodwill is committed to helping those facing barriers become primed for work. Please help us spread the word and share your ideas, thoughts and solutions with us.Add a Comment | Comments (0)
March 31, 2017
George grew up in eastern Washington as a first generation American and throughout his life developed a passion for helping others. He attended Gonzaga University—a Jesuit institution that promotes service to others—and after graduation joined the military as a United States Army officer. He gained invaluable leadership skills during four years or service, which included a deployment to Iraq. George moved to Seattle after leaving the military and connected with Goodwill through a veterans hiring event. He learned about Goodwill’s mission, and instantly knew his beliefs aligned perfectly. After starting out as a case manager, George began instructing Goodwill’s Retail and Customer Service class and now works as Retail Programs Operations Manager, strengthening relationships with Goodwill’s partners and developing ways to improve the programs he oversees.
“You get to see students in the environment that Goodwill offers, which is a safe and welcoming space. But one’s perspective broadens through the relationship that is built and the work that we do because you realize that for some that safe and welcoming space can end once they step out of the classroom and away from Goodwill … you realize that some students don’t have a place to rest, don’t have a place to call their own. Some don’t know where their next meal is coming from, and some may be going somewhere they may not necessarily want to be. Yet for all that they are carrying as an individual, their persistence and determination to improve remains, and it is awe-inspiring. Things we take for granted, they do without, and regardless they’re set in making their change happen. I’m honored to work alongside a team and organization that will offer that hand-up in education and support services to thse inspiring individuals, letting them know that we are here to support them."
Randy, who serves as Goodwill’s director of transportation and after market sales, has been an integral piece in the birth of Goodwill’s highly successful Industrial Vehicles Program—a 12-week session with the end goal of having students earn their commercial driver’s license. He’s paramount to Goodwill’s daily operations, has established a long track record of limiting liability and takes great pride in positively affecting change in the lives of the students who’ve come through Goodwill’s programs and now work in his department.
“What’s most rewarding I think is just the conversations with my employees. My whole thing is getting down and knowing what makes them tick, how we can help them, how they can help us. I mean it truly is a two-way street. I manage the warehouses, and we hire from the re-entry program, so we get some of the more hardened guys. A lot of those guys have just been put in the wrong spot at the wrong time. They all have good hearts. They all want to do the right things, and you can especially tell when you talk about their family. Being able to talk to them and get that smile… They don’t even have to say it. You feel that thank you. People don’t always articulate, so to be able to see the joy and benefit of what having a job means to their lives, it’s just as rewarding to me as anything. On the surface it seems like, ‘Oh, yeah, I’m doing all this for everybody else,’ but guess what? When I got home at night, I’m taking some of that joy home with me.”
Rocio, a single mother, left her home in Mexico City 23 years ago with her two daughters after the business she worked for closed due to a struggling Mexican economy. She settled in Bremerton, where she had family. Speaking limited English, Rocio tried several times to learn but never found the necessary time to master the language. Two years ago Rocio came to Seattle Goodwill’s Bremerton Job Training and Education Center, where she’s taken English for Speakers of Other Languages classes, Adult Basic Education, Computer Basics and is now working toward obtaining her GED. Rocio, who has a chronic injury that affects her ability to work following a car accident 15 years ago, has taken advantage of Goodwill’s support services for students. She’s received gas cards for her long commutes to work, has obtained prescription glasses with Goodwill’s help and also received help finding housing. Her English has drastically improved, and she is becoming more confident in using her English speaking skills to complete daily tasks.
“Right now I have many things to do. And to do many things you need English. Before I would ask my daughters or somebody for help. Now, no. My goal is to be a teacher, an art teacher because I love to draw. To become a teacher, I need to get my GED. When you draw you get to put outside what you feel, what you think. I want to help kids express what they are feeling. That is my goal. A long time ago people told me, ‘Ask for help, ask for help, because you will hurt yourself more (if you don’t).’ Now I am living and getting support in many ways, and I feel like I am dreaming. We have very good teachers, and they help all the time. I can’t believe it. Of course, I am very grateful. That for me motivates me to do the best that I can do. That is my feeling to say thank you. We have everything here that we need to study. I can’t say anything about, we need, because they help with everything.”
Susan taught high school science in Missouri for seven years before moving to western Washington in 2012. She already had a bachelor’s degree in teaching but needed to pass a new test in order to earn her certification in Washington state. Susan’s plan was to save up and take the test, but in the meantime discovered Seattle Goodwill and found an open instructor position at Marysville’s Job Training and Education Center. She was hired as a computer instructor, and that role quickly grew into teaching just about every class offered at the center. Susan became the South Everett Job Training and Education Center Manager in 2013, and through her nearly five years working at Goodwill has discovered teaching adults is her true passion. Her favorite class is at the Monroe Correctional Complex, where she works with inmates on building their resume, writing cover letters, teaching how to talk to future employers about conviction history and even sets up mock interviews to help them find work upon release.
“I use to say I wanted to teach high school because I wanted the last chance to make a difference in somebody’s life. But what I realized shortly after working for Goodwill is that (high school) is not the last chance, because there are still so many people that need someone to help and make a difference in their life. We get a lot of individuals who are at that point where their life just drastically changed. So what’s so amazing about Goodwill is not only do we provide the education classes to help, but in addition we support (our students), which is so amazing. Goodwill helps students get what they need and then goes one step further with assisting them with (resources like) dental, and vision or if they are having trouble paying their utility bill. So we really try to meet that base level of the pyramid, so our students can focus on education and then bettering themselves.”
-SusanAdd a Comment | Comments (0)
March 2, 2017
Amruta and her husband moved from Mumbai, India to Georgia in 2013 after marrying. Near her Georgia home was a Goodwill, and she always wanted to volunteer but didn’t have the transportation means to get there. That changed eight months later when Amruta’s husband landed a job at Amazon and the couple moved to Seattle. As Amruta waited for her work permit, she wanted to put the human resources degree she earned in India to good use, and with a proper bus system, she decided to look into volunteering. Amruta has volunteered at Goodwill for two years in the Job Training and Education (JTE) computer lab, Risk and Safety and now Philanthropy. She screens applications, schedules interviews and responds to volunteer emails as a recruiting volunteer.
“After coming to Seattle, I started exploring the city. When my husband would go, I would take a bus and go to Pike Place and just explore the city. I like this city very much, and now I started working (at Seattle Goodwill) and I love it. I just got my work permit, but before that I thought, ‘Let’s not waste those years. Let’s make something out of it.’ After doing research and knowing all the JTE stuff, I thought I’d really like to work for Goodwill. It’s doing such a noble thing. The tagline that jobs change lives, it’s so much true, and I believe it so much. It’s a great cause.”
Carol was working in the new media department for a TV programming company in her home country of Brazil when her life underwent a drastic change. Her husband received a job offer from Amazon, and so Carol moved with him to Seattle just over a year ago. Carol earned a degree in social communications and an MBA in Brazil, but in order to work in the U.S., she had to wait for her work permit. She decided to volunteer in an effort to keep her skills sharp and found a position within Seattle Goodwill’s philanthropy team. Carol completes various critical projects, including compiling and reporting on volunteer hours, data input and analysis and updating the volunteer exit survey.
“I really like (volunteering) because it keeps me from getting rusty. It keeps me busy and all that. I can practice my skills, and I really enjoy the vibe here, seeing how people really like what they do. They are very engaged in the mission of the company. This is something that I never saw in any company I’ve worked for, so it’s really refreshing. I’ve been increasingly more interested in nonprofit business in general. It’s something that I never worked with, and even though I had a great career back in Brazil, I’ve always felt like something was lacking in terms of self-fulfillment. When you work for a place like Goodwill, everything kind of fits. It was a great opportunity for me to see this is possible, to be working at a place you admire and you are in sync with their mission and their values.”
Da’Shawna was dealing with some hardships at home and in school when she began interning last summer at Seattle Goodwill through the Seattle Youth Employment Program. Her dad passed away at a young age, and she had some challenges within her family. Da’Shawna’s grades were slipping and school day commutes from Tukwila to Franklin High School in Seattle didn’t provide sufficient time or the proper environment to get school work done. Da’Shawna moved to Tacoma and was still going to commute to Franklin for school starting fall 2016, so Goodwill Job Training and Education staff asked Da’Shawna if she wanted to join the Youth Year-Round Program. Da’Shawna did and since is on track to graduate next spring thanks in part to the support services provided by Seattle Goodwill staff.
“With this commute back and forth, it really gave me a big eye opener that I needed to stay on top of my grades. Some of my grades have dropped because I’m not getting time to do my homework. I’m not in a stable environment where I can finish all the things I need to. Sometimes I fall behind, and it makes me just want to give up, but I can’t give up. I have to keep pulling through. (Goodwill staff) is there every day. They are just one phone call away or one text. They help me with my homework. They make sure I am on track with my grades. They let me come in and do my work and make sure I get it done before I leave. They make sure I have everything and am stable with all I need to do. Sometimes I get off track, and I need a little extra push, and they’re there to support me and to keep me focused. Goodwill has good opportunities behind it. Their whole system is built to help the youth and empower the youth to make them more capable to fulfill their needs in life.”
Joe was thumbing through the pants racks at Goodwill’s Shoreline location when he looked up and saw a job training and education sign. A nearby employee explained to Joe Goodwill’s mission, and after doing more research on his own, he decided to apply for a volunteer role. Before retiring Joe enjoyed a successful career as a controller and a CFO, handling various accounting tasks. He also did some fundraising, which led him to a volunteering in the Philanthropy Department where he conducts extensive donor research and has created a manual for future volunteers. He’s now been with Goodwill for several months and has enjoyed serving a nonprofit dedicated to improving the lives of those facing economic and personal barriers.
“When I went online to register to be a volunteer I actually looked for the mission statement first. It was like, ‘Wow, this is really in line with exactly what I want to do.’ So I couldn’t have created a better mission statement than what (Goodwill) has. Just providing that job training, some basic education and just focusing on people who have those barriers to opportunity. Those are three little components in the mission statement that really hit home. My whole life I’ve been going from one job to the other not really focusing on what my personal mission statement is, and I thought as I approached retirement, ‘What can I do to sort of do what I want to do,’ which is inspire and empower people. It’s just come all together here, so really it’s been a great experience.”
-JoeAdd a Comment | Comments (0)
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- Vote Seattle Goodwill "Best Vintage and Resale"!
- Comcast Donates Backpacks to Seattle Goodwill
- Rainy Day Fun
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