2018 Summer/Fall Goodwill Ambassador
Laia’s vision of her American dream was crumbling. Her goal of creating a better life for her two daughters living in Iran was waning.
One month after arriving in Bellingham from Tehran, Laia still hadn’t found work. She didn’t know where to turn, and her limited English presented a major barrier. With options dwindling, Laia sought advice from a community member, asking for resources that might change the outcome of her predicament.
Thankfully, Laia was directed to Goodwill.
“They take me (to Bellingham Goodwill) with bus, and I discover Goodwill,” Laia said.
That spring day three years ago Laia was given hope and a commitment. Hope that she could prosper in her new surroundings and a commitment from Goodwill staff to help anyway it could.
The simple fact Laia was in the United States was extraordinary. Laia’s husband had died, and she was determined to provide for her daughters in a climate that didn’t afford much opportunity. So Laia, fearless and optimistic, traveled halfway around the world to carve out better opportunity.
“It doesn’t matter for me, but I want to save them,” said Laia. “I have to make a good life for them. I can make it. I have to make it. I thought about my daughters, because I want to make for them a good life. I want for them to have happiness, a blessed, good life.”
Goodwill Program Manager Jessica Hilburn shared with Laia as many resources as she could. Laia enrolled in English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) classes, got help finding an apartment and was hired in production at Bellingham’s retail store
She committed herself day and night to learning English, and her hard work and dedication paid dividends.
Laia was a certified beautician in Iran. She had more than 30 years of experience in the field. Her goal in the U.S. was a career in cosmetology. To attain that she needed new certification, but the beauty school she wanted to attend said her limited English was too large of a barrier.
“Now is very better, because I have job. I have paycheck. I have insurance. Goodwill is very helpful for me. If I didn’t have Goodwill help, maybe I am back in my country, because I don’t think any organization other than Goodwill can help me like Goodwill helped me. I was very lucky to find Goodwill.” -Laia
But Laia was persistent. For two years she petitioned the beauty school to let her attend, all the while improving her English each day through Goodwill’s ESOL courses until she finally convinced the school to accept her.
“I took one year of beauty school, and they say to me, ‘You are a very good student here,’” Laia said.
Laia graduated from the program, earned her certification and worked with Goodwill Employment Specialist Bea Bowen to land a job hair styling at a local salon.
“Now is very better, because I have job,” Laia said. “I have paycheck. I have insurance. Goodwill is very helpful for me. If I didn’t have Goodwill help, maybe I am back in my country, because I don’t think any organization other than Goodwill can help me like Goodwill helped me. I was very lucky to find Goodwill.”
Laia is hopeful she’ll eventually bring her daughters to the U.S., and will continue to work toward her American dream.
For Goodwill Instructor Bea Bowen, there isn’t a much finer feeling than learning a resume she helped craft led to a student landing a job interview.
“It’s an absolute joy to teach what I know,” Bea said. “Like all our Employment Specialists, my goal is to give our students access to professional career support. We want them to really shine when an HR person gets their resume and cover letter, because everyone has something wonderful to offer.”
Bea, a Goodwill Employment Specialist based in Bellingham, has enjoyed a full career in human resources, teaching, marketing and human services. She powers Goodwill’s mission with these skills and helps transform the lives of those facing barriers to economic opportunity.
Bea possesses an authentic joy and innate desire to help others and knows the desolate feeling of not receiving support. Bea persevered through an early childhood living in a home with divorce, mental illness and alcoholism. She was fortunate to find caring mentors in her teens, who provided great opportunity. Those life experiences formed Bea’s drive to make others feel cared for.
“It’s an absolute joy to teach what I know,” -Bea
As Employment Specialist, Bea channels that passion through helping community members find jobs. She helps Goodwill students write resumes, cover letters, assists in job search, hosts employer events and teaches employment workshops.
“Everyone here is professional,” Bea said, “but everyone reaches out to the students and shows that they care, that what they are going through is important and that we are going to walk with you. Not just when you get your first job, but we will be walking along with you the whole way. ”
Laia is one of the many students Bea has touched through her work. Bea’s support illuminated Laia’s path from new immigrant with little prospects to realizing her dream of working as a beautician.
Bea helped Laia build her resume once she graduated from beauty school. Laia quickly landed a job at a local hair salon but was crushed when she was let go weeks later. Bea knew Laia needed a shot of confidence and connected her with a friend, who owned a hair salon and was an immigrant herself.
The two bonded. Laia learned how to present herself as a new hairstylist. Before long Laia’s confidence was back. She greatly benefited from Bea’s innovative thinking and was soon hired at another hair salon where she’s been happy since.
“Whoever comes through our doors, life has happened to them,” Bea said. “My experience is that Goodwill, through wraparound services and great teachers, helps students make positive changes in their lives. We are where people are building their futures, where families are strengthened and communities are enriched. Who wouldn’t want to be a part of that?”
Dawn Trudeau had $200 to her name when she left home at 18 years old.
Dawn found a Housing and Urban Development job working on an assembly line. It was a job training program where she received help developing her skills before becoming fully employed. That first job offered Dawn a chance to improve her life, and the experience still resonates with her today.
“That’s my first job when I was 18, getting help, someone helping me,” Dawn said. “That’s why I think it is so important to continue to do that. I understand what it is like to not have money, to not have a car. I walked to work. I understand what it is like to be there, so I want to help people when I can.”
That desire to provide opportunity has manifested in years supporting Seattle Goodwill. Dawn, a retired Microsoft executive and co-owner of the Seattle Storm, first connected with Goodwill in 2012 when she spoke at a student graduation.
That day she learned the impact Goodwill’s free job training programs have on students’ lives, and how deeply students value the opportunity afforded to them.
“There was a guy at the graduation whose job was working with the parks department,” Dawn explained. “He just talked about how important this job was to him, how much it mattered to him and how much it was helping him, how grateful he was to Goodwill. It really convinced me that this is critical help that people are getting through Goodwill.”
Every year since, Dawn has financially given to Goodwill’s mission.
"When I’ve seen people in classes and instructors interact, it feels like an organization and system that is respectful." -Dawn
Dawn has donated and shopped at Goodwill throughout her life. Since more intimately connecting with the organization, she’s learned the breadth of services Goodwill provides and how strong its commitment is to improving lives.
The care and compassion Goodwill instructors have for students particularly stood out.
“It’s definitely the job training part,” said Dawn, “but it also feels like a very vibrant and respectful environment. When I’ve seen people in classes and instructors interact, it feels like an organization and system that is respectful. It takes people, no matter where they are at, and gives them the respect to help them-selves, gives (students) tools in a way that honors them.
“Giving people the opportunity to get a job, to support themselves and have control of their lives, that’s one of the most base level things that we can do for people, and that is what Goodwill does.”
A letter from our CEO, Daryl J. Campbell
Seattle Goodwill is continuing to develop a more regional approach to our Job Training and Education (JTE) services to deliver relevant programs that give people the tools they need to succeed. As we move forward, each county’s Job Training and Education center will have a specific sector focus that matches its region’s thriving industry and workforce needs. Our model will adapt to better match job seekers with opportunities that exist in our local labor markets.
For example, we recently launched the Youth Maritime Program at the Seattle Job Training and Education Center in July. The innovative program will enroll 20 high school juniors to help them stay on track to graduate, enroll in college and start a career in the maritime industry. The two-year program focuses on building soft-skills and career-connected learning that also includes service learning, team building and college and career readiness.
While the Youth Maritime Program is focused on a specific sector, all our programs will provide more career-oriented training. Our popular Adult Basic Education classes will be greatly enhanced with new orientations, sector-specific pathway mapping and longer, more effective classes. Career exploration and job-readiness lessons will be a key component of our revamped Adult Basic Education Program that is even more focused on our mission to place people into good jobs.
In this issue you will meet a tenacious and hopeful woman named Laia, who benefited from Goodwill’s Adult Basic Education program. Laia came to Goodwill in Bellingham with no job, little English and no other place to turn. She was able to take classes at Goodwill and received the support services she needed to thrive in work and in life.
It is because of your support that Laia’s life was positively impacted. I appreciate all you do to improve the lives of each student who comes to Goodwill in need of that support to make a better life for themselves and their families.
Daryl J. Campbell, President & CEO
P.S. I hope to see you at this year’s Glitter Gala, back at Bell Harbor on October 20.