Volunteer Spotlight

Making things happen

Giving back feels good—especially when you know that your contribution of time and talent creates opportunities for others to improve their lives. We could not provide the services we do without all of our wonderful volunteers!

Meet Lauren D.

 

Dress for Success/Glitter Gala Volunteer

“Growing up, shopping in the Goodwill was always a family affair,” Lauren said. “I’ve moved 22 times in the last 32 years, so I’m constantly moving forward and getting rid of things. We talk about Goodwilling all the time in our family. It’s a term for us.”

Lauren Dalton learned early in life that proper attire can make a lasting impact.

When she was a senior in high school, Lauren was speaking with an admissions counselor at Florida State University—now her alma mater—when he was struck by an accessory she was wearing.

“At the time, I thought it was popular to wear a guy’s tie around your waist,” Lauren said. “We chit-chatted, and he complimented me about the tie I was wearing. Two or three months later, I had put in the application, and he remembered. He said, ‘Oh, you had that white tie around your waist.’ I since have learned how important it is what you wear.”

That’s one of the messages Lauren delivers during the Dress for Success workshops she leads as a Seattle Goodwill volunteer.

Lauren, a Product Integrity Manager at zulily, has been volunteering with Goodwill since the Glitter Gala in the fall of 2016. She’s always been passionate about helping people who are bettering themselves, and zulily’s volunteer policy has afforded her the ability to make a major impact at Goodwill.

Besides instructing Dress for Success workshops, Lauren and several of her zulily team members will be volunteering at the new pop-up shop that will be featured during this year’s Glitter Gala. Even Lauren’s mom is flying all the way from Georgia to volunteer at the event.

While Lauren’s values fall in line with Goodwill’s mission, her tie to the organization goes beyond her volunteerism.

“Growing up, shopping in the Goodwill was always a family affair,” Lauren said. “I’ve moved 22 times in the last 32 years, so I’m constantly moving forward and getting rid of things. We talk about Goodwilling all the time in our family. It’s a term for us.”

Lauren’s professional background in product development and merchandising coupled with her love for fashion has been a great fit for the Dress for Success workshop, which takes place toward the end of every class session, just before Goodwill students begin applying for jobs.

One of Lauren’s messages is very clear: fashion doesn’t have to cost a lot. It’s more about choosing clothes that are stylish, flattering, and appropriate for the occasion, she said.

Lauren teaches how to put outfits together, how to shake hands, how to speak while maintaining eye contact, and overall, how to feel comfortable during an interview. And because she’s often working with such diverse groups, Lauren’s benefitted by learning customs from various cultures.

“I honestly appreciate people’s differences and love learning from other cultures,” Lauren said. “What I appreciate the most is the number of people from different walks of life who come into the building with the same goals of wanting to better themselves through our educational programs. I have truly realized how great the Goodwill organization is.”

Lauren said with her schedule it would be impossible for her to commit as much as she does to Goodwill without the support of zulily, which provides 32 hours per year of paid volunteer time. Lauren is constantly recruiting co-workers to join her at Goodwill.

“Working with the Goodwill organization has been great,” Lauren said. “Everyone is just super friendly and passionate about what they do. When I learned Goodwill was affiliated with the zulily volunteer program, I didn’t think twice about where I would give my time.”

Meet Zophie L.

Vintage Fashion Collection Volunteer

 “Every time I came in I would say, ‘This is amazing.’ It blew me away. I was floored. We have a bonnet from the Oregon Trail. It still has dirt on it from the Oregon Trail.”

There are days when Zophie Leslea, 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.

Zophie said while she’s spent countless hours volunteering, time spent in the vintage collection never feels like work. That is partly because she’s entrenched in what she loves and partly due to how she’s treated as a Seattle Goodwill volunteer.

“One of the strengths of Goodwill is how privileged you feel as a volunteer here,” Zophie said. “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.”

Meet Laura M.

 

South Everett Job Training and Education (JTE) Center Volunteer

“I’m a gregarious person,” Laura said, “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.”

Laura had no intention of volunteering the first time she stepped foot in Seattle Goodwill’s South Everett Job Training and Education (JTE) Center.

In fact, Laura had no knowledge of Goodwill’s mission.

“I got here purely by chance,” Laura admitted.

Years ago Laura helped establish a community garden in Mukilteo. She met an Iranian single mother who gardened there, and the two struck up a strong relationship. One day, the woman invited Laura to the education center for a graduation event, and less than 30 minutes into it, Laura was hooked. She knew she wanted to be involved in Goodwill’s mission.

“I walked into the graduation event, looked around and said, ‘Wow, this is interesting. Look at the variety of people here,’” Laura recalled. “Within half an hour, I met (JTE Center Manager) Susan Allen and said, ‘Do you need anybody?’”

That was the genesis of what’s been a two-and-a-half-year relationship between Laura and Seattle Goodwill.

Laura has donated more than 300 volunteer hours, starting out as an instructor’s aide in computer classes before transitioning to English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) classes. With the help of South Everett ESOL instructor Janice Powell, Laura has created a successful talk-time sessions, in which twice a week she meets with ESOL students to facilitate conversations around American culture, idioms, speech patterns and analogies.

Meet Cathie and Loanne

Cathie and Loanne have a combined 500-plus volunteer hours at Bellingham’s Job Training and Education (JTE) Center,

“It just brings (the students) to that world where everyone else already is,” Cathie said. “They get more confident every class, and the pretty soon they are showing us how they can do stuff. And it’s ‘Look what I can do now!’ It’s pretty nice. It keeps bringing us back.”

Digital literacy is a requirement in today’s society in order to navigate one’s personal and professional life.

Cathie and Loanne have recognized this, and thanks to their combined 500-plus volunteer hours at Bellingham’s Job Training and Education (JTE) Center, Seattle Goodwill students are able to learn digital essentials paramount to seamlessly maneuvering through their daily lives.

Cathie, for a long time, has provided instruction for computer programs such as Microsoft Word, Excel and PowerPoint at Bellingham Technical College and sees regularly how gaining computer skills improves people’s lives, whether it be finding a job online or connecting with family across the country through email or video chat.

Loanne, on the other hand, came to Goodwill several years ago as a retired Navy veteran looking to gain computer skills. She wanted to volunteer, but found many positions required computer literacy she didn’t have.

“Unless you know Microsoft Word of Excel or something, they say, ‘No thank you. We can’t use you,’” Loanne said. “So, I became a student here.”

Loanne still remembers a form she filled out when starting as a student in Goodwill’s computer explorations class. There was a prompt that asked: “Why do you want to take this class?” Loanne wrote: “To be a better volunteer.”

The instructor, Loanne said, was struck by her answer and asked Loanne to continue on as a volunteer. So the class Loanne wanted to take in order to become a volunteer has turned into the class she now volunteers in.

And Loanne couldn’t imagine a more fulfilling volunteer role.

“I could probably get another volunteer position but not one as rewarding as this,” Loanne said. “I tell people the biggest thing we teach here is confidence. To watch people walk in (lacking confidence), and between this staff, they leave laughing and doing all kinds of stuff, because they are not afraid.”

Cathie has witnessed how impactful her time is to the students who come to her class.

Cathie works with many seniors who are retired and had computer skills while working, but since retirement haven’t kept up with the ever-changing world of technology.

Meet Gonzolo

 

Gonzalo has dedicated more than six years and 1,500 volunteer hours toward helping Marysville’s Job Training and Education Center

“I encourage other people to volunteer,” Gonzalo said. “I encourage you to come to Goodwill. Whoever is looking for a job, and they want to volunteer, I encourage them to do so.”

Superlatives aside, the fact Gonzalo has dedicated more than six years and 1,500 volunteer hours toward helping Marysville’s Job Training and Education Center speaks volumes to the impact he’s made in the community he helps serve.

And Marysville instructor Elizabeth Laryea had some glowing remarks about Gonzalo, too.

“He always has a really positive attitude,” said Laryea, who teaches English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) classes and frequently has Gonzalo as an aide. “He always welcomes the students and makes everyone feel comfortable, and he also is willing to do any task, big or small.”

Originally from Mexico, Gonzalo came to Washington after living in California for seven years. He started taking classes at Goodwill in 2011 in order to develop skills that would help him land a job.

Gonzalo began volunteering after being asked by Marysville JTE Center Manager Tania Siler. He started helping in ESOL Basic and ESOL Level 1 and 2 classes, while he continued honing his own English-speaking skills by taking more advanced classes. Every Monday through Thursday Gonzalo volunteers for roughly three hours.

Besides working as an aide, he also acts as a translator and interpreter for Spanish-speaking individuals who come to Goodwill but haven’t yet developed English-speaking skills.

“I know he does a lot in the office, too,” Laryea said. “He makes phone calls, and if someone has questions he can do some translation. I think he can really relate to a lot of our Hispanic students, helping them feel comfortable right away.”

That relatability is displayed on multiple levels. Not only can Gonzalo connect with Hispanic students through conversation and culture, several years ago he earned his citizenship and serves as a testament to other students that gaining citizenship is obtainable.

Gonzalo’s willingness to volunteer is even more impressive given a challenging barrier he faces. Getting to Goodwill requires a 15-minute walk to the training center. The trek isn’t easy. Since birth, Gonzalo has dealt with a foot deformity that makes walking long distances a challenge.

“I don’t have a car, so I have to walk all the time,” Gonzalo explained. “Sometimes I feel like my legs are hurting a little bit. It’s hard to move. The movement I do when I walk, that causes problems for my hips, and I feel a lot of pain sometimes.”

To Gonzalo, the struggle of walking to Marysville’s JTE Center and back home is a small price to pay for the reward he gains in return.

“I love helping these people,” Gonzalo said, “especially after I help them and they say, ‘Thank you.’ That is what motivates me.”

Gonzalo is hoping he can use all his volunteer experience to find a job in the future as a translator.

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