2018 Spring Goodwill Ambassador
Stephanie desperately needed a life change.
She drank heavily but still managed to juggle two jobs while raising two kids with her husband.
When a friend introduced Stephanie to hard drugs as a means of coping with her hectic life, a dark, downward spiral of crime, home evictions and homelessness followed.
“I was like, ‘OK, this is manageable,’” Stephanie said, “but it got progressively worse. We went through three evictions in a year. My husband and I split up. I sent my kids to live in Oregon with my sister (to be in a healthier environment). At that time I was pretty much homeless. All the stuff I had was gone, and my addiction got worse, and I turned to stealing to get by.”
Drugs ripped Stephanie’s family apart. She was living out of her car when in December of 2015 she was arrested and charged with multiple theft-related felonies.
Stephanie was presented two options: a 28-month jail sentence or King County Adult Drug Diversion Court — a program offering eligible defendants the opportunity to receive drug treatment in lieu of incarceration.
Stephanie was at a crossroads.
“The first thing I thought was, ‘I don’t want to go to prison,’” Stephanie said. “Drug court gives you your sentencing right there. If you fail, you go straight to jail. I also wanted to get sober. It was the only way I could get my kids back and support me and them.”
Stephanie committed to change, and Goodwill was there to help.
“If I hadn’t been in this program, I don’t think I would be here today. There was a lot of understanding here."
During a drug court check-in, Stephanie saw a flier for Seattle Goodwill’s free Warehouse and Logistics Training Program, a partnership with South Seattle College (SSC). For nine weeks, students participate in a warehouse skills training course followed by an internship. Students receive certifications in forklift operations, first aid and CPR, flagging and traffic control and hazard communication and globally harmonized systems. SSC provides training space. Goodwill offers additional support services.
Stephanie registered for the program, illuminating a path toward the life she desired. She thrived in the program and was selected for a Goodwill internship.
Coming to Goodwill was a good fit for Stephanie because “they are willing to look past your past to be able to help you see your future.”
Goodwill’s Job Training and Education (JTE) staff stayed with Stephanie lockstep during her year-and-a-half long drug court, offering emotional support while she pieced her life back together. Goodwill also provided Stephanie store vouchers to buy Christmas gifts for her kids and furniture for a new living space.
After graduating from the Warehouse Logistics and Training Program, Stephanie was offered a job at Seattle Goodwill as a Production Associate.
In August 2017 — two years after sending her kids to live with her sister — Stephanie drove to Oregon and brought them home. Months later, Stephanie’s criminal record was erased upon graduating from drug court.
“If I hadn’t been in this program, I don’t think I would be here today,” Stephanie said of Goodwill. “There was a lot of understanding here. There was a lot of people to encourage me like, ‘You got this.’ When I didn’t feel great about myself, they felt great for me. They are really supportive, all of them.”
In order to help students overcome their barriers, Seattle Goodwill Case Manager Cammie Carl first identifies what life obstacles exist. She does so with openness, compassion and by building trust.
“I approach this work as a person, as a community member,” Cammie said. “I try to make more of a human connection than a professional connection. And I use my own history to establish that relationship.”
Goodwill works to improve lives through job training and education. But that work also extends beyond the classroom, where Goodwill case managers match students with support services critical to present and long-term success.
That support comes in many forms. Goodwill can provide food, housing, health care and transportation assistance. Staff can connect students to legal advisors. And, sometimes, students simply need the emotional support provided by Goodwill Job Training and Education (JTE) staff.
“We think, ‘How can we minimize barriers students are facing every day so they can get to class and take those next steps toward bettering themselves?’” Cammie said.
That was Cammie’s thinking when she first met Stephanie, who was in the midst of her nine week Warehouse and Logistics course at South Seattle College. Stephanie was in the King County Adult Drug Diversion Court program, her kids were living with relatives a state away and she was trying to find an avenue out of her predicament.
"I try to make more of a human connection than a professional connection."
Cammie and Stephanie forged a tight bond during monthly meetings and check-ins. Cammie guided Stephanie toward her goal with emotional support and identified other areas of need.
A turning point in Stephanie’s journey came during the 2016 holiday season. She was missing her kids, who had been away for a year-and-a-half. Cammie encouraged Stephanie to find a way to visit, realizing seeing her kids would help her move forward. Stephanie’s family coordinated a trip, and Goodwill provided store vouchers so Stephanie could bring her children Christmas gifts.
Stephanie returned revitalized. She was ready to complete her transformation.
Cammie regularly works with students like Stephanie, but each one has different barriers and pathways to achieve economic opportunity.
Wayne Lau knows the many barriers facing US immigrants. He has been there himself and is passionate about offering opportunity to those new to this country.
At Seattle Goodwill, those opportunities come through job training, education and support.
“The thing that struck me was a lot of the work in job training was directed toward immigrants,” said Wayne, a Chinese immigrant who came to Seattle as a youth. “It’s bewildering to someone coming to this country, just the whole work culture.
“Coming over here, you have to make a living. I was impressed with how people could go through the JTE (Job Training and Education) Programs and then come out and land a job.”
Wayne has partnered with Seattle Goodwill since 2007 in multiple ways. He’s currently a volunteer board member, a finance committee member, and in the past, was a board chair. He has also participated in student mock interviews, thank-a-thons and contributes financially to Goodwill’s free training programs.
“Jobs change lives, and I’ve totally embraced that. We talk a lot about social equity and social justice. To me that really means you’ve got to have the same opportunity. If you give people the opportunity to get a job, it gives you that sense of esteem that you are providing. It’s not that people don’t want to work. It’s that they don’t know how to go about doing it.”
Growing up, Wayne’s family frequently shopped at Goodwill, but it wasn’t until later in life he became aware of Goodwill’s mission.
“They were recruiting for new board members,” Wayne explained. “The more I found out about the mission, the more I became invested in it.
“To see the image of the organization and the message and the mission of Goodwill come through for the community, it just made me say, ‘Wow, I am very fortunate to be on this board and be a part of this organization.’”
Wayne, Executive Director of the Rainier Valley Community Development Fund, built a successful career in banking. He learned the value of education at an early age, and believes employment is central to building self-confidence and thriving as a new American.
Wayne has witnessed how jobs change the fortune of Goodwill students and immigrants in his Rainier Valley community. Wayne’s wife, Teri, has too.
A substitute instructional aide for Seattle Public Schools, Teri also connects with Goodwill’s mission. She primarily works with English language learners and children of immigrants, and has witnessed the impact Goodwill’s programs have on students’ families.
“Jobs change lives, and I’ve totally embraced that,” Wayne said. “We talk a lot about social equity and social justice. To me that really means you’ve got to have the same opportunity. If you give people the opportunity to get a job, it gives you that sense of esteem that you are providing. It’s not that people don’t want to work. It’s that they don’t know how to go about doing it.”
A Letter From Our CEO, Daryl J. Campbell
In keeping true to our mission, Goodwill continually works to align our services with the economic and educational needs of our communities. Last year our Job Training and Education Programs helped over 11,500 individuals facing significant barriers to economic self-sufficiency work toward a promising future.
In order to address the pressing needs of our community, Seattle Goodwill is taking a more regional approach to our Job Training and Education Centers. We will continue to serve our students with Centers in all five counties, and will be able to provide more depth in our classes and services, working even more closely with our students.
We are focused on rebalancing our mission spending and reevaluating our program opportunities. The ultimate goal is to once again grow our Job Training and Education Programs and find new and better opportunities to serve our communities.
Our center-focused model will evolve as we deliver more and more of our programs and services within the communities we serve. For example, we may run more programs through partnerships like the Warehouse and Logistics Program that our featured student, Stephanie, benefitted from, or the iGrad School partnership in Kent that serves young people age 16-21. iGrad offers an alternative pathway to high school completion for students who haven’t been successful in a traditional high school. Together we provide instruction directly to students, focusing on career exploration and work readiness.
I want to personally thank each of you for your support and commitment to Goodwill. Goodwill continues to be the best it can be because of your strong commitment and tireless efforts. We are looking toward a new path for Goodwill and appreciate partners like you who are with us every step of the way.
Daryl J. Campbell, President & CEO
Save the Date: October 20, 2018