Catch up with Goodwill's #GoodwillFaces series
Maria immigrated to Seattle four years ago with her husband and two children out of necessity. Her home in the Philippines had been destroyed at the hands of Typhoon Haiyan — the country’s deadliest typhoon on record. Maria was shopping soon after her move to Seattle when a sign promoting Goodwill’s free Job Training and Education programs caught her eye. She enrolled in the Retail and Customer Service Program and also took Goodwill computer classes. While in the programs, Maria received important support services such as bus vouchers, dental care and store vouchers so she could buy furniture for her new home. Maria was hired at Goodwill’s Shoreline location and since has received a promotion to Retail Lead. She deeply supports Goodwill’s mission and credits Goodwill with making her transition to the U.S. as seamless as possible.
"I really believe that Goodwill can change lives. I always say that to other immigrants. I tell them that is how I started. Goodwill is part of my family. When my mother came to visit, I brought her here and told her, 'This is my second family here in America.' I am getting a salary and at the same time I am helping other people. I am part of the company, and the mission is to help others who need help. I like that mission. I am paying back what they help me.” –Maria
Living in a new city and a new country, Amruta was still getting acclimated to American culture when she began volunteering at Seattle Goodwill in 2014. Her and her husband arrived in Seattle from Georgia, where they’d been living for eight months after moving to the United States from India. Amruta’s husband had landed a job with Amazon, and she was waiting for a work permit to put the MBA she earned in India to use. Amruta decided to volunteer with Seattle Goodwill, helping in the Job Training and Education Department and Risk and Safety Department before finding a permanent home within Goodwill’s Philanthropy team. Amruta volunteered for more than two-and-a-half years before accepting the department’s Volunteer Program Coordinator position. Amruta has seen firsthand the value of volunteering and how critical it is to the success of Seattle Goodwill. She takes great satisfaction in spreading Goodwill’s mission to potential volunteers who don’t know Goodwill’s community impact.
“When I didn’t have a job, Goodwill helped me a lot, just coming out of my shell. This country was new to me. It was difficult to communicate with people. I knew English, I just didn’t have the confidence. When I started volunteering, it was really good to get to know people in the community. As I got comfortable in the role, I could talk to students and have them talk to me. It was really good, because at the time I was scared to talk to people. I think what Goodwill teaches is it gives confidence to people to learn new things and find jobs and sustain their lives, and I think that is amazing.” – Amruta
A year ago, Bernardina could hardly read, write or speak any English. That’s all changed since she enrolled in Goodwill English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) courses at the Skagit County Job Training and Education (JTE) Center. Bernardina moved to the U.S. from Mexico in the early 1990s, and her lack of English skill has always been a barrier to more opportunity. Bernardina moved to Mount Vernon, where she found work in Skagit Valley’s farming fields, but needed to improve her English to get a better job. One day Bernardina was shopping at Goodwill’s Mount Vernon store when she saw a sign advertising free job training programs. She enrolled in ESOL courses, has drastically improved her English and eventually earned a job at Goodwill. While enrolled in classes, Bernardina received important support services such as gas and clothing vouchers and prescription glasses to make life easier while she focused on her studies.
“When I stay in Florida, I paid to learn English. I studied English there, but first year nothing, and second year I learned a little bit more. Here is 100 percent help. I speak English now. I write, too. Now, wow, I cannot believe my life. At work, I understand what (customers) are saying. Before I couldn’t understand, because they are talking so fast. Goodwill has a lot of benefits for people. Go to learn because Goodwill helps.” - Bernardina
Khoa was reluctant to move with his parents from Everett to Monroe after his freshman year of high school. His whole life existed in Everett. So Khoa stayed, and he bounced around living with relatives and friends for the next two years. Khoa became largely self-supporting and saw his academics suffer. He began working full-time and school became an afterthought. Khoa, toward the end of his junior year, stopped going to school all together. Before leaving, he had applied for Goodwill’s Youth Aerospace Program (YAP). Khoa had a decision to make last summer after learning he’d been selected to the two-year program that immerses youth in the aerospace industry. Khoa could continue supporting himself and work full-time or he could join YAP and re-enroll in high school. Khoa joined YAP. He found an environment that empowered him to lead and opened his eyes to college possibilities. In an eighth-month period, Khoa went from off-track to graduate high school to ahead of pace. He credits Goodwill’s YAP for spurring his turnaround and plans to attend college after high school graduation.
“I was never really home, so school was just something I had to go to. My mentality was, ‘How am I going to pay for things: food, gas, insurance – all that stuff?’ I just thought I had to graduate, and then I’d figure it out after that. Being in this program really made me think about the benefit of going to college and what opportunities that would give me. When I think of this program, I think it is a great opportunity for kids like me — somebody who just needs that extra little boost. For me, it was that chance that I didn’t even know was there.” - Khoa