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Success Story: Rohan

October 24, 2014

As a young man, Rohan thought about going to college but didn’t know what he wanted to do with a degree and he didn’t want to go in to debt to pay for it.Rohan's Head Shot

One day in 2011 as he was giving plasma to make some cash, he heard about the job training and placement services Goodwill offers.

He walked in to Goodwill’s Job Connection on Freedom Drive where he met with a career counselor who recommended that Rohan enroll in the Goodwill Construction Services Training. Rohan completed the seven-week training program and gained forklift and NCCER certifications. He began working on a housing project in partnership with Goodwill and Habitat for Humanity. Once the project was complete, he went back to Goodwill to find more work opportunities.

This time Rohan was directed to Goodworks Staffing, Goodwill’s temporary-to-hire staffing agency. There was an opening at Anita Goodesign, an embroidery design company. Rohan started at Anita Goodesign in 2012 on a temporary basis, packaging marketing software materials. Rohan’s quota was to package 1,000 CD’s every day, but he clearly exceeded the company’s expectations and would package 2,000 CD’s a day. Rohan knew that if he pushed himself, he would demonstrate his value to the company. “I wanted to give my all today so that my employer wanted me tomorrow, the next day and eventually full time,” said Rohan.

Rohan’s hard work did capture the attention of owners Steve and Aundrea Wilson. “Rohan is diligent and always has a smile on his face. He approached me and emphasized that he appreciated the work and wanted to know if there was more he could do,” said Aundrea.

Rohan inquired about design because he liked to draw. Aundrea and Steve agreed to give Rohan the opportunity to be a machine operator and to learn the steps for embroidery.

“I never thought ‘needle and thread’” smirked Rohan. However, he spent the next nine months learning how to work the embroidery machine. He learned about the various threads, style and embroidery fabrics. This hands-on work experience helped to propel him to his next step of becoming a digitizer.

The digitizer is an important position in Anita Goodesign’s company. The digitizer takes the pattern designed by the creative department and digitizes it in to an easy-to-follow pattern for the customer to then follow to create the pattern. Rohan is one of three digitizers in the company. Steve, the CEO and founder, is one of the others. It was important for Rohan to learn how to work the embroidery machine first so that he could digitize a pattern that would work easily for the embroiderer.

“What he didn’t learn in school, he more than worked to learn here,” said Steve. “ He has a strong work ethic and determination and he always has a positive attitude.”

Since Rohan started as a temporary worker two years ago, he has worked his way from an hourly position to a salaried position with health benefits and a 401K. In addition, he has developed a valuable and highly specialized skill. “He has a skill I can’t hire. It’s not a skill you learn in design school or college or have on your resume. You need to be trained in the process from design to the end product” said Steve. “It’s people like Rohan that make businesses grow.”

Antia Goodesign recently released a new pattern and couldn’t think of a more appropriate name than “Rohan’s Roses.” “Rohan worked on these 15 rose designs for so long, he earned the right to have the design named after him,” said Steve.

Rohan was deeply moved by this honor. “I loved it being named Rohan. I thought to myself, we make 4,900 copies of this pattern so at least 4,900 people out there will know who I am!” said Rohan.Rohan's Roses

Rohan is very happy at work. He smiles as he shares that this is the first job he’s ever had where he doesn’t wish for Friday when he wakes up.

“I applied the skills I learned in my Goodwill training, which was to be on time and plan ahead. I apply these classroom skills everyday in my job,” said Rohan. “Goodwill led me here today. I learned how to be persistent and to never give up. Always strive to be your best.”

Barriers to Job Success: Lack of Housing

October 14, 2014

houseA report in the New York Times reveals that a shocking number of working people live in homeless shelters. According to the report, more than one out of four families in New York City homeless shelters include at least one employed adult and 16 percent of single adults in shelters hold jobs. As alarming as these statistics may seem, a more disturbing fact is that they are indicative of a nationwide trend of the “working poor” being unable to afford housing.

Unemployment, underemployment and low-wage employment are frequent causes of homelessness. The loss of a job leads to homelessness when tenants fall behind on their rent and homeowners fall behind on their mortgages—ultimately leading to eviction and foreclosure. Hard-working, responsible families are at risk of losing their homes as a result of job losses, reductions in working hours or lower wages.

As bad as it is for the 25% of homeless people who have jobs and can’t escape homelessness, climbing out of homelessness is virtually impossible for those without a job. For those with limited skills, education or experience, opportunities for jobs that pay a living wage are scarce. Most homeless individuals are looking for steady work, but find that it is difficult to come by for one who does not have a permanent address, reliable phone or access to technology. In today’s competitive environment, the difficulties of job seeking as a homeless person can be almost insurmountable barriers to employment.

Access to job training and job supports that lead to good paying jobs help families and individuals move from homelessness to housing and financial stability. Goodwill partners with various community agencies within the Homeless Services Network of Charlotte-Mecklenburg to help people experiencing homelessness by coordinating employment services closely with housing and other interventions.

The best defense against homelessness is a job that pays enough to afford a place to live. A recent study by the University of North Carolina at Charlotte found that it is cheaper to give homeless men and women a permanent place to live than to leave them on the streets. Moore Place, the subject of the study, is an apartment complex in Charlotte that houses 85 chronically homeless adults. The study found that, in its first year, Moore Place tenants saved $1.8 million in health care costs, with 447 fewer emergency room visits (a 78 percent reduction) and 372 fewer days in the hospital (a 79 percent reduction).

Although the Charlotte metro area has been gaining jobs since 2010, we still aren’t gaining jobs fast enough and much work remains to ensure that the opportunities that are created extend to the most vulnerable members of our society.

Elizabeth Isenhour

Elizabeth Isenhour

What do you think should be done to help people experiencing homelessness in your community?

The Queen City Style Shows Us How to be Stylish this Halloween

October 10, 2014

We recently teamed up with The Queen City Style, Whitley Hamlin, to pull together budget friendly and stylish costumes for Halloween. Here are a few of her ideas and DIY tips:

Madonna (2)


  1. White lace dress (Whitley wears a wedding dress from Goodwill)
  2. White heels
  3. Pale sheer stockings
  4. Lots of gold and pearl accessories
  5. White lace gloves
  6. Cross necklace or earrings

Make-up tips: Achieve this hair by using a 1/2 inch curling iron or crimper and tease! Apply red lips and don’t forget about the famous mole!

corpses bride (2)

Corpse Bride

  1. A wedding dress
  2. White evening gloves
  3. A veil
  4. A long blue or black wig

Make-up tips: Dark smoky eyes and pale lips

Coco Chanel (2)

Coco Chanel

  1. Tweed suit or jacket
  2. Black, straight, knee-length dress
  3. Black leather pocketbook (a faux Chanel purse works best)
  4. Pill box style hat
  5. Lots of pearl accessories

Make-up tips: Vintage curls or a low bun, red lips and natural eyes

photo 1 (3)

Vogue Magazine Editor-in-Chief Anna Wintour –for a little girl

  1. A simple black dress
  2. Mary Jane shoes
  3. White collar necklace or pearls
  4. Wide-framed sunglasses
  5. Her signature bob hair-do
  6. A copy of Vogue magazine

Make-Up Tips: Just apply some red lip

All of the clothing and accessories for these costumes can be found at your local Goodwill store. Happy hunting!

Easy To Follow Halloween DIY Costume Ideas

October 3, 2014

Goodwill is a Halloween destination for one-of-a-kind costumes. Shoppers can find fresh items at Goodwill every day, including clothing in a variety of shapes, sizes and colors, as well as accessories from different decades to transform an ordinary look into a fantastic, eclectic costume. With a little creativity, anyone can become a ghost, cowboy, zombie or superhero of choice simply by combining Goodwill finds into a unique costume. Visit for DIY costume ideas.

The best way to save at Halloween is to use your imagination. Goodwill offers unique, gently used items that can help you put together the perfect costume without breaking the bank. To help inspire trick-or-treaters this Halloween, Goodwill is showcasing a Halloween Look Book full of 18 DIY costume ideas. You can download the guide by clicking here.

A DIY costume is what you make of it. You can create a look as intricate as a character on “The Walking Dead” or you can simplify your costume in a few easy steps:


Clownclown (2)

Items Needed:

  • Suit in dark or bright colors
  • Tie or scarf
  • Hat or wig
  • Oversized shoes
  • Red lipstick for nose and white make-up for face




Cowgirlcowgirl (3)

Items Needed:

  • Leather boots
  • Plain shirt
  • Cowboy hat or red headscarf
  • Vest or jacket with sleeves cut off or rolled




By purchasing items at Goodwill, you’ll save on your Halloween costumes and be able to use those clothes again once Halloween is over. You can also feel good knowing that your purchase will help provide job training and community services to people looking for work here in the Southern Piedmont community.


What will you be this Halloween?

Designer Tips: Cost-Saving Ways That Bathroom Hardware Can Transform Your Loo

September 26, 2014

1. Intro

Image source: DCoopMedia – Coastal Living Showhouse

Giving your bathroom a full makeover doesn’t have to cost a fortune. In fact, some of the easiest ways to breathe life into your bathroom involve small details that can make a big impact. Bathroom hardware such as towel bars and rings, robe hooks and toilet paper holders offer “jewelry” to your bathroom at a low cost. Whether your style is traditional or ultra-modern, look at these ways to give your bathroom a new feel with the addition of the right functional accent pieces.

The look of luxury without the price tag

2. Luxury bath

Image via: Susan Serra – Kohler Design Center

We’d all love to have a guest or master bathroom that exudes luxury, but the cost of purchasing high-end bathroom hardware can be daunting. Instead, look to finishes with an elegant appearance, such as brass, copper, nickel, and oil-rubbed bronze. These finishes help bring a luxurious aesthetic to your bathroom wall and look beautiful when paired with bath linens or holding your favorite bathrobe on a matching robe hook.

Remember, bathroom hardware doesn’t have to match perfectly! While at your local Goodwill store, look for similar finishes and styles to mix and match towel bars and bring an eclectic vibe to your bathroom. If you want your space to standout, consider painting your wall a contrasting color to create a focal point for the eye. You will be surprised how inexpensive color and hardware pieces can transform your bathroom wall.

Coordinating Bathroom Accessories

3. Matching Accessories

Image via: Susan Serra- Kohler Design Center

One of the best ways to make your bathroom look like an interior designer put it together is to find stylish pieces that complement each other. Look for rods, holders and even faucets that carry a similar design style to your cabinetry. A toilet paper holder that carries similar lines to your mirror can create a cohesive look.

Mirrors, framed artwork, and even a flower vase can bring a luxe feel to your bathroom without having to custom order any accessories. Vanity additions such as a soap dish, lotion dispenser and drinking cup in a similar metallic finish will complete the look.

4. Towel Bar

Image via: Susan Serra – Kohler Design Center

Transforming your bathroom doesn’t have to cost a lot of money, and you don’t have to follow specific “designer rules” to bring the luxury feel to your bathroom. Your bathroom hardware may seem like small details, but they can actually give your bathroom an instant makeover for a fraction of the cost of a luxury bathroom.

Ronique Gibson is a home design lifestyle expert and associate architect who writes for Home Depot. Ronique’s design tips range across the home’s busiest rooms, from kitchen to family room to bathroom. For Home Depot’s selection of bathroom accessories, including those Ronique discusses, you can visit the Home Depot website.

Easy Elegance: DIY Vintage Chandelier

September 16, 2014

HEROThere’s nothing more satisfying than stopping at Goodwill, finding an old piece of wooden furniture on the cheap, and putting a fresh spin on it. One very popular option is to whitewash wooden items to achieve the shabby chic look. Keep in mind, you don’t have to stick with traditional pieces like tables and dressers—you can also whitewash things like picture frames, small shelves, and even wooden light fixtures like chandeliers.

For this project we’ve chosen to whitewash a wooden chandelier to give this modern design some vintage, old world charm.


  • Drop cloth
  • Chemical stripper (only for wooden items with finishes)
  • White vinegar (only for stripped furniture)
  • Wooden chandelier
  • Medium or fine grit sand paper
  • Soft wiping rags
  • Whitewash pickling stain, not paint (we used MinWax)
  • Paintbrush – small and soft
  • Sponge
  • Clear water-based sealant


Step 1

Gather all materials and prep your workspace. Lay down a drop cloth.

Step 2

If the wood is sealed, be sure to strip first with a chemical stripper. Then wash with equal parts white vinegar and water. The vinegar removes stains and dirt that could prevent the whitewash from applying evenly.

Allow to dry completely; then sand the piece gently with medium or fine grit sandpaper.



Step 3  Wipe with a clean cloth to remove dust and create a clean surface.


Step 4  Create the whitewash solution by mixing a 1:2 ratio of white latex paint and water in your bucket and stir thoroughly. By creating a thin wash, you can control the exact amount of whitewash you’re applying, and the more coats you apply, the more opaque the wash will become.


Step 5  Apply the mixture directly to the wood surface in long, fluid strokes using a soft paintbrush or soft cloth. Use a sponge to whitewash hard-to-reach corners and crevices.


Step 6  Before the whitewash dries, use a clean rag to rub the whitewash into the grain and knots. You can also use a dry sponge. If you have any blobs of white that have already dried, remove them with sandpaper.

Step 7  Add another layer of white wash if you wish, following steps four and five. We decided to go with several thick coats of whitewash for a more opaque look.

Step 8  Once the chandelier is completely dry, apply water-based sealer with a brush or lint-free sponge. Apply with long, even strokes.


Allow to dry completely before attempting to hang.


Home Depot’s Sarah Kellner writes on interior design and decorating. Sarah’s a big fan of DIY projects, including home lighting makeovers for chandeliers and pendants. Home Depot’s selection of chandeliers and pendants is available on the company’s website.

Barriers to Job Success: Lack of Transportation

September 9, 2014

mass transitGetting a job and getting to a job are not the same thing.

James Bryant learned that lesson the hard way when he spent two years searching for a job after being laid off from his manufacturing job. “I applied to literally hundreds of places, but since I don’t have a car and have to rely on public transportation, it really limits what I can do,” said the Construction Skills Training graduate.

While James’ story has a happy ending, other people who lack cars aren’t so fortunate. Nearly 40 million working-age people now live in parts of major American metropolitan areas that lack public transportation, according to an analysis by the Brookings Institution’s Metropolitan Policy Program. A study that looked at transit and jobs in metropolitan America ranked Charlotte 75th out of 100 metro areas for transit accessibility. The study found that less than half of working-age Charlotte residents live near a transit stop. Discouragingly, the typical Charlottean can reach about 30 percent of jobs in their metropolitan area via public transit in 90 minutes.

Goodwill’s benefit bank advisor Samoan Bowden says that she has heard the concerns of many low-income, minority residents in Charlotte who rely on public transportation to get around town. What’s more, many of the jobs are located more than 10 miles outside of downtowns. Only about one in five metropolitan jobs is located near the urban core, within three miles of downtown. Like many other large metro areas, Charlotte has patterns of residential segregation among its residents. Several tracts in the center of Charlotte (downtown area) show over 75% minority population, while the white population is over 75% in the suburbs to the north and the south.

Faced with these challenges, policymakers have promoted many strategies to enhance job accessibility. Transportation-related responses aim to provide better transit so workers can get to more locations more often. The development of the light rail line in Charlotte has boosted accessibility to jobs located along its corridor. A new light rail line extending to University City is planned to open in 2017, connecting carless workers to a robust job market area. The University City area is the second largest employment center in Charlotte, with some 73,000 workers, and regional offices of 23 Fortune 500 companies. Urban reinvestment strategies seek to bring jobs closer to inner-city workers. Housing mobility programs strive to expand opportunities for lower-income residents to live close to jobs, often in suburbs.

Strong transit makes it possible to reduce car ownership and all the expenses that go along with it, from purchase cost to maintenance to gas to insurance. Goodwill supports the adoption of an integrated, “all-of-the-above” approach to workforce development, which includes building strategies to address discrepancies in transit coverage.

Goodwill sells discounted bus passes at its Career Development Center (2122 Freedom Drive) every Friday from 10:00-11:30 AM. If you use public transportation, follow these tips to avoid pitfalls in your job search and career.

Elizabeth Isenhour

Elizabeth Isenhour

What would you do to improve Charlotte’s transit resources?


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