Job Training & Education

Goodwill Faces: Mitzi, Sucelly, Bianca, Matthew

 
by Andrew Lang, Seattle Goodwill
August 23, 2017
 

Catch up on Goodwill Faces with the four stories below. Tune into our FacebookTwitter, and Instagram to follow our weekly #GoodwillFaces series!

Years ago Mitzi moved from Eastern Washington to the Kitsap Peninsula with nothing but her three younger kids, belongings they could fit in their pillowcases and a box of homeschooling materials. A dedicated mother of seven who for 17 years homeschooled her children, Mitzi had divorced following 31 years of marriage. She had nowhere to live, no income and no clue how to find work. With low self-confidence and over three decades out of the workforce, she felt hopeless. A job is what she needed to become self-sustainable. She connected with Seattle Goodwill and began taking the Retail and Customer Service Program at Bremerton’s Job Training and Education (JTE) Center. Mitzi was offered a job at Bremerton’s Goodwill store, where she has worked the past six years. She refers to the store as her home, due to the strong customer and employee relationships she’s forged. Any opportunity Mitzi gets to share Goodwill’s mission, she takes full advantage. She also always encourages customers to round their change up at the register in order to fuel the mission she’s benefitted from.

“The whole reason Goodwill exists is because of (job) training. I remember not only not having a job, but not knowing how to go about getting a job. That’s a pretty hopeless feeling. They’ll sit down with you elbow-to-elbow and will show you on the computer how to go on there and how to make your resume and how to apply for jobs. That gives you hope.  It’s not help by giving (students) money. Money goes away. It’s help by teaching them how to get a job. You know how tangible that is? You can do it, and Goodwill can help you. I am proud to work here. I like being here, because I help people.”

-Mitzi


 

Sucelly endured many hardships growing up in Guatemala. Raised by a single mother, Sucelly’s mom traveled to the United States to create a better life for Sucelly and her sister. At 9 years old, Sucelly and her sister embarked on a dangerous trip in order to join her mother in California. Sucelly’s family didn’t have much, but Sucelly excelled in school and knew education would be her ticket to improving her livelihood. She had to put her dream on hold after starting a family, but last year Sucelly discovered Seattle Goodwill’s South Everett Job Training and Education (JTE) Center, joined its Career Pathways Program and began taking CC 101. She enrolled in Everett Community College, where she’s become active on campus working with international and DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) students. She’s now working toward a degree in Computer Information Systems and takes pride in being a great wife and outstanding example for her 3 year old daughter.

“At first I thought, ‘Goodwill, they offer classes?’ I thought it was just for shopping. We went in to the center, and they are really nice people. I started going to classes and learning things. They just showed me the pathway to start going to college. They showed me what I had to do, where I had to go and they even paid for the test I had to take. They have helped me a lot. When they told me about their classes and said they could help me, I got so excited. I think of my daughter, and I just want to keep on going forward to finish and be like, I did something for my daughter, my family and for my mom to be proud of me. I am just thankful for meeting Goodwill, all the work they are doing and for my family pushing me.”

–Sucelly


 

Bianca received her first felony at 18 years old and later received a 15-month prison sentence. Bianca fell into a tumultuous cycle of having no life direction and getting in trouble. The felony convictions discouraged her from attending college, and instead she completed culinary school, which she eventually realized wasn’t her passion. Bianca later started cosmetology school but was unable to finish. She reached a low point when she didn’t have a job, got kicked out of her mom’s house, became homeless and was living out of her car. But Bianca’s life took a positive turn when a friend told her about Goodwill and its programs dedicated to helping people with criminal records find work. She was accepted into Goodwill’s Retail and Customer Service Program, and Bianca thrived. She landed a job in Goodwill’s E-commerce Department and developed a passion for helping others, especially those who’ve dealt with some of the same barriers she’s had to overcome. Bianca’s work ethic and persistence earned her a job in Goodwill’s Job Training and Education Department as the Warehouse Logistics Training Program Instructor. The job is particularly gratifying for Bianca, because the program largely works with people who have criminal backgrounds and are struggling to find work.

“It didn’t really register what a great thing Goodwill is doing for people until I became an employee and really started to learn about all the job training and education. I just got really inspired during that time. When I heard about the (Retail and Customer Service) program, I thought this is my second chance. Before, I went to school and tried these other things, but they weren’t set up to support me the way Goodwill has. Some of us have messed up our lives so much that we need a specific program that is really going to support. I have learned so many skills. My vocabulary has grown. My professionalism has grown. It’s just the whole entire Goodwill is support for me. It’s good to know there are organizations out there like this.”

-Bianca


 

Matthew was simply looking for a summer job when a teacher at Everett High School told him about Seattle Goodwill’s Youth Aerospace Program. He quickly learned the program wasn’t a summer job, but rather it was a two-year commitment where he would develop strong soft skills and connect with future career opportunities in the aerospace/advanced manufacturing industry. Although Matthew’s first passion is creating music, he pursued the program because of all the important life skills he knew he’d develop. He has improved his public-speaking skills, has learned to be open and connect with people who are different than him and has received a strong view of what a career in the aerospace industry would look like. Matthew recently graduated from high school and has forged a bond with the program, instructors and other students in the program’s cohort. He’s enrolled at Everett Community College and will begin taking classes soon.  

“The first time they had a little orientation, they started talking about all the things we would be going over and told us they’d be teaching us how to do more public speaking and learning how to build a resume and volunteering. That really started to pique my interest. I’ve grown as a person, and I have learned to be on time and if I want something I need to go get it instead of waiting for it to be handed to me. Learning to come together as a group was a huge barrier that the program has helped me overcome. I have learned how to communicate and have a good work relationship.”

-Matthew

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Goodwill Faces: Freddy, Vasilika, NeeCee, Zophie

 
by Andrew Lang, Seattle Goodwill
August 4, 2017
 

Catch up on Goodwill Faces with the four stories below. Tune into our FacebookTwitter, and Instagram to follow our weekly #GoodwillFaces series!

Freddy fled his home country of the Democratic Republic of Congo and came to the United States seeking asylum in September 2015 with no knowledge of the culture, English language or any idea how he’d start a new life. Freddy gave up his training in the Catholic seminary in 2011 when he developed a deep desire to help his fellow countrymen. Freddy left behind his family, and 34 days after arriving in the U.S. he discovered Seattle Goodwill’s Job Training and Education Center. Freddy enrolled in English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) courses, improving his English-speaking skills through each level. He took Goodwill’s Cashiering and Customer Service course, Microsoft Excel and PowerPoint, began volunteering in computer classes and now acts as a Goodwill Ambassador, informing the community about Goodwill’s mission. Freddy also gained access to a Goodwill case manager, who connected him to Goodwill’s many support services. Freddy, who has a master’s degree in philosophy from the Democratic Republic of Congo, recently received his employment authorization and is well on his way toward achieving his goal of a career in computer science.

“I decided to move to the U.S. to save my life. When I first came, life was very hard for me. When I started my first class at Seattle Goodwill, everything changed in my life. This program helped me a lot with my situation as an immigrant. They were sensible with my problems. My case manager and I met every week and helped me build confidence. This is the right place that can help everyone who needs, because I can testify that Seattle Goodwill changes people’s lives. I am proud to be a student at Goodwill.”

-Freddy



In the spring of 1998 Vasilika arrived in the United States at age 28 from her home country of Albania after winning a green card lottery in which only two of 5,000 people in her town were selected. She was seeking a life for herself that didn’t seem possible due to the economic climate and the Albanian Civil War of 1997. Vasilika was in college and working as a teacher while studying to get her teaching degree in Albania, but decided to put her dream on hold. Vasilika worked several customer service jobs and worked her way up to an assistant manager position, but left after 10 years when the economy took a downturn. Six years ago she was hired at Goodwill’s Bremerton location as a production supervisor. The store manager worked with Vasilika’s schedule so she could work full time and go to school. She earned her two-year degree in business management, and while working at Goodwill she got to know the Job Training and Education (JTE) staff. When a department opening came up, the JTE staff encouraged Vasilika to apply. Now Vasilika works as a computer instructor in Bremerton’s JTE Department, achieving the dream she set out to accomplish before she came to the U.S. nearly 20 years ago.

 “When I was in production I got to see we were supporting the mission of Goodwill, but it was in a way of helping people find product, the right item, the right price. When I came to this position I saw the other side of it. I was like, ‘Wow, this is what it really means.’ When all these people come through my class and they have the barriers like I had in my life and they succeed, it makes me very happy. Dreams come true. I would say dreams can sleep for a while and they wait for the right moment to flourish. Coming over with $100 and being able to survive and support my family while I was here—I had to send them money very often. Now I have my own life, my own family. I think I have achieved quite a bit.”

-Vasilika



NeeCee set a goal for herself five years ago when she first began working as an associate at Seattle Goodwill’s Southcenter location. Her intention was to one day work in the Job Training and Education Department (JTE). She’s always enjoyed helping others and, as a foster child, she frequently assists her family in finding resources that have allowed them to overcome their own barriers. At Goodwill, NeeCee quickly became a supervisor in retail and connected with human resources to learn how she could land her dream job in JTE. She her displayed initiative by partaking in Goodwill’s Mentorship Program, networked, practiced mock interviews with JTE members and after years of persistence was hired as an employee specialist.

“It is still hard to believe, although I feel like I belong here. I want to give back. I know from experience just in my life that nobody has to do anything for you, and anything given to you is always a blessing. I try to give back whenever possible, and that’s how I live my life. I would say never give up, never stop reaching and go to those who have been there and can help show you the right path to take. That is really what helped me.”

-NeeCee



There are days when Zophie, even after over a year of volunteering, still can’t believe she gets complete access to Seattle Goodwill’s Vintage Fashion Collection (VFC). For a fashion lover such as Zophie, it’s paradise. Once a week she travels from Everett to Seattle to research, date and inventory hats. She also mends hats in preparation for Goodwill fashion shows and displays. Zophie has been trained by some of the best milliners in Seattle and plays an important role in Goodwill’s VFC, which is an expansive time capsule of clothing and accessories dating back to the mid-1800s. Goodwill’s Job Training and Education Programs are a large piece of the mission, but our VFC also works to educate by allowing our community access to historical pieces. Zophie has spent countless hours working in the collection, but she admitted she never feels like it’s true work. That’s partly because she’s entrenched in what she loves and also because she’s never been treated better as a volunteer.

“The Goodwill mission statement really speaks to me. Education is so important, across all aspects of our society. We learn critical thinking skills, we gain understanding of others’ experiences and with that comes empathy. One of the strengths of Goodwill is how privileged you feel as a volunteer here. This has just been a breath of fresh air for me. It’s amazing being around a collection like this and to have access to it. I feel blessed every day. I also feel really blessed to be introduced to the people who are involved with Goodwill. Every time I came in (the VFC) I would say, ‘This is amazing.’ We have a bonnet from the Oregon Trail. It still has dirt on it from the Oregon Trail.”

–Zophie

 

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Seattle Goodwill expands Youth Aerospace Program to Renton

 
by Andrew Lang, Seattle Goodwill
July 18, 2017
 



Seattle Goodwill knows a job is the keystone piece to securing better economic opportunity, and with the expansion of our Youth Aerospace Program (YAP) to Renton, Goodwill created another conduit for students to achieve their goals of a career in the aerospace sector.

Our Renton YAP partners—Boeing, JP Morgan Chase & Co. and Renton Technical College—joined us for a ribbon-cutting ceremony Friday, July 14, as we officially welcomed the program’s expansion from Marysville to the south side of Seattle.

The YAP is a two-year program which provides  students a smooth transition through their senior year toward a career in aerospace. The program helps build strong soft skills and connects students with future career opportunities in the aerospace and advanced manufacturing industries.

“The program has already been very successful in Marysville with 61 enrollments since 2014,” said Barbara “b.g” Nabors-Glass, Vice President of Job Training and Education. “We hope to have 20 students enrolled in this new program at Renton.”

Some of those new Renton YAP students were present for the ceremony. After the ribbon cutting, Seattle Goodwill President & CEO Daryl Campbell spoke, followed by new Renton YAP Supervisor Monique Edwards, Program Assistant Brycen Smith and representatives from Boeing, JP Morgan Chase & Co. and Renton Tech.

“Partnerships such as this are crucial in providing access and supporting the success of our youth,” Renton Technical College President Kevin McCarthy said. “Education is complex, and RTC’s collaboration with Goodwill helps ensure that students will complete their education and move into rewarding careers.”

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Goodwill Faces: Meriem, Laura, Maddie, Maria

 
by Andrew Lang, Seattle Goodwill
June 30, 2017
 

Catch up on Goodwill Faces with the four stories below. Tune into our FacebookTwitter, and Instagram to follow our weekly #GoodwillFaces series!

Meriem was living a comfortable life in the beautiful port city of Casablanca, Morocco where she held a clothing design job—a coveted role given her love for fashion—but a year ago she left that life behind. Meriem moved to the U.S. on a fiancé Visa to live with her future husband and immediately felt lonely and out of place because she lacked a sense of community and didn’t speak English. But she wanted to support financially, especially with her first baby on the way. Meriem took Goodwill’s English for Speakers of Other Languages courses, Retail and Customer Service and some computer classes that helped her land a job. Goodwill’s Job Training and Education team conducted mock interviews and have helped Meriem overcome many of the barriers she’s faced as an immigrant. The outpouring of support she’s received from the Goodwill family has given her increased confidence and better thoughts about her new life. Meriem is thrilled to provide support for her family and dreams of one day resuming a career in fashion design.

 “I was just struggling with life and wanted to enroll in any classes to develop my knowledge to gain skills and employment to get any job. I feel warm, secure and comfortable to come to Goodwill. I feel like I come to my home. When I see the students, we talk like brother or sister or something. I do not feel like I miss my family over there, because I see all my family here. In the beginning I was stressed out, because I just left my country, so I was kind of home sick. I thought I want to go back to my home, but after meeting people like the teacher, case manager, all of them helping me, I like (my new life) and I love it.”

-Meriem


 

Laura had no intention of volunteering the first time she stepped foot in Seattle Goodwill’s South Everett Job Training and Education (JTE) Center, but 30 minutes into her first visit she asked how she could donate her time. Laura was at the center attending a graduation event with a friend when she became enamored by the diverse group of people thirsting for knowledge. She became even more captivated after learning about Goodwill’s mission. That started a relationship that has lasted over two years between Laura and Goodwill. She’s donated more than 300 hours, volunteering as an instructor’s aide before transitioning to English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) classes. She has created successful talk-time sessions, where she meets with ESOL students and facilitates conversations around American culture, idioms, speech patterns and analogies. The inspiration Laura draws from the students she works with keeps her coming back session after session.

“I like to share what I know and what I am able to do. I’m a gregarious person, and it touches me when that light goes on for someone and they go, ‘Ah, I figured it out on my own. You know, I can do this now.’ I get good feelings from watching other people succeed, so I’m sort of rooting for them. I really want to live in a world where people have hope. Learning English is very hard. It takes years and years and years of dedication. And not being able to speak English in many cases is isolating and limiting what you can do and what kind of jobs you can do. So the reward is it gives me hope (knowing) that there are people that have that grit to learn English as an adult. It is amazingly difficult.”

-Laura


 

Every day Maddie is living her dream. Since the first time she began passing out pretend homework as a child, she knew she wanted to be a teacher. Maddie, who grew up in Seattle’s Rainier Valley neighborhood, works as an instructor at Goodwill’s Seattle Job Training and Education Center. She teaches English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) courses and plays a critical role in the High School 21+ high school completion program. While Maddie wound up only miles away from where she was raised, her path has taken her to Florida, southern California, Honduras and South Korea. Along the way she has collected a bachelor’s degree in psychology, a master’s in teaching and has taught in multiple countries. She’s seen first-hand the benefits and struggles that come with knowing and not knowing the native language, so being able to help students gain English-speaking skills holds extra meaning to her. Completing high school and learning the English language is paramount in helping spur better economic opportunity, and Maddie is thrilled to be able to make the daily impact she does on Goodwill students’ lives.

“I grew up in a mixed-ethnicity household. I also didn’t have the opportunities presented to me. I kind of had to trail blaze. I felt that if I were to achieve, once I got to the level of education I wanted to get at, then it was my turn to give back to the community, so that is what kind of led me here. Being a teacher (at Goodwill), you are not just a teacher. You are a case manager, you are a counselor. You are doing all these things in one, and I really like that. I love teaching, and it makes me happy. When I’m going in there and helping the students achieve their goals and dreams, I kind of feel a part of that, and so that is what is rewarding to me—the fact that I’m helping them get to where they want to be.”

-Maddie


 

Maria found herself at a Seattle Goodwill resume-building workshop after moving tothe Pacific Northwest from Costa Rica in 2011. A teacher back home, Maria owned a bachelor’s and master’s degree but she was looking for work in her new country. Little did she know, Goodwill was where she would work the next six years of her life. Maria immediately fell in love with Goodwill’s mission, and even though she found a job, she began volunteering at Goodwill’s Job Training and Education (JTE) Center. That turned into a part-time position, which led to a full-time role at Burien’s JTE Center, where Maria teaches English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) courses. Maria has helped countless students develop English-speaking skill, which ultimately provides them better economic opportunity, increased confidence and an ability to become self-reliant. Maria developed a passion for helping others at an early age. She’s been teaching since she was 18 and admits working for Seattle Goodwill has been her most rewarding experience.

“I knew that if I had the chance, I would love to stay at Goodwill. We get people from all over the world, and it is such a rich experience. As I learn from them, they learn from me. We are able to help people on such a level I don’t think other organizations are able to. We are able to support a person not just in their learning, but as a whole. One of the major things for me is we get to help people. That is one of the most important things. We help them get a job, (work) toward that independence and we have the resources to do it. We get to give all of this for free, free of charge to them. To me, that is amazing. I tell people this: ‘Please come in and shop at Goodwill. I will give you a tour of the center. See where the money goes. I want you to see the students, because you are changing someone’s life.’”

-Maria

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Goodwill Faces: Keone, Gonzalo, Sahily, Cathie and Loanne

 
by Andrew Lang, Seattle Goodwill
May 22, 2017
 

Catch up on Goodwill Faces with the four stories below. Tune into our FacebookTwitter, and Instagram to follow our weekly #GoodwillFaces series!

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.”

-Keone


 

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.”

-Gonzalo


 

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.”

-Sahily


 

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.”

-Loanne

“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.”

-Cathie

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