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Goodwill Invites Youth to “Be the Change” Through Community Partnership

April 15, 2014

pdsGoodwill recently partnered with SHARECharlotte and Providence Day School as part of a year-long project for the school’s freshman class. The project called “Be the Change” offered an interactive view of poverty in Charlotte, which taught participants how poverty touches almost every aspect of our community.

Along with Goodwill, more than 12 nonprofits and civic organizations engaged the students with panel discussions, guest speakers and immersion experiences. The project’s monthly activities begin in October and continued through April.

On February 7, Senior Vice President of Community Engagement LaRita Barber participated in a panel discussion with Ron Ahlert, Executive Director of Community Culinary School; Natalie English, Senior VP of Public Policy at the Charlotte Chamber of Commerce; and Robert Bush, Interim Executive Director of the Arts & Science Council. That afternoon, 24 Providence Day students enjoyed a tour of Goodwill’s Career Development Center led by Community Engagement Assistant Meredith Robinson and participated in immersion activities led by Kwain Bryant, Manager of Youth Services. Meredith said, “It was a really eye-opening experience for the kids. A lot of them were connecting the dots on poverty, our clients and Goodwill’s mission.”

“Leading the immersion experience was great,” said Kwain. Students had a chance to reflect on personal opportunities and explore barriers for peers who are exposed to poverty. The group also participated in a “Class Matters” activity, which allowed the youth to explore the mindsets of individual living in poverty, the middle class, and those with more wealth.  “It was great to see the level of introspection, compassion and awareness exhibited by the Providence Day School youth,” Kwain noted.

By the end of the day, students had gained a much stronger understanding of the barriers faced by local individuals and how they can be a positive influence for advancing change.

Kilby Watson is the Community Engagement Manager for Goodwill. For more information on volunteer opportunities, contact Kilby at (704) 332-0316 or kilby.watson@goodwillsp.org.

Lace Up Your Running Shoes for FreeMoreWest 5K

April 1, 2014

RunningGreenway2Spring is in the air and what better way to enjoy the beautiful weather than lacing up your running shoes? Join us for the Second Annual FreeMoreWest 5K on the Greenway on Friday, April 18. Proceeds from the race support Goodwill’s free job training programs and career services for people in our community.

The FreeMoreWest 5K is a scenic race along the greenway through one of Charlotte’s most extraordinary neighborhoods. The new course is faster, has fewer turns and more of it on the greenway! After you cross the finish line, grab your family and make your way over to the Post Race Festival. Kick back and enjoy spring in full bloom with plenty of great music, food and local brew.

Event Schedule:

4PM - Registration table opens

5PM - Race Festival – Food trucks and OMB open

5PM - 5:40PM – Pre-5K Deep Stretch Session at Yoga For Life- Free to race participants!

6PM – Race starts

Do #alittlegood for your heart AND your community and register today for the race. We hope to see you running along the greenway!

Elizabeth Isenhour

Elizabeth Isenhour

Three or More and We’re at Your Door!

March 21, 2014

Home truckMore than 70 percent of Americans engage in the annual tradition of spring cleaning, according to a 2013 survey by the American Cleaning Institute. But one of the most common dilemmas for spring cleaners is what to do with all their unneeded stuff.

When you donate to Goodwill, your donations fuel job training programs right here in our community. By cleaning just one part of your home each day, you get a clean home and your neighbors get a fresh start.

Goodwill offers free home pick-up services for large donations such as gently-used furniture in excellent condition, along with boxes of clothing, shoes, electronics and other household items. We require you to have at least three or more large furniture items in order to complete the home pick-up request. To schedule a home pick-up, call (704) 393-6880 or book an appointment online.

This season, Goodwill has compiled a spring cleaning guide, which provides examples of specific items that can be donated this year. Here are some suggestions as you begin tidying up your home:

Clear Closet Clutter

If you haven’t worn those jeans, jerseys or jeggings lately, chances are you won’t. Seize the opportunity to clean out your closet.

Spread Holiday Cheer

Are you holding on to boxes of holiday decorations? Spread cheer by donating holiday ornaments, Halloween decorations and more.

Downsize Your Toys

Not sure what to do with your old laptop and other electronics? Put your clutter to good use by donating to Goodwill today.

For more spring cleaning ideas, check out our Seven Days of Spring Cleaning Guide.

Elizabeth Isenhour

Elizabeth Isenhour

What are you donating this spring?

DIY Photo Frames

March 18, 2014

mirrorOne of the great things about Goodwill is that you can find almost anything at their stores. Take some of those unique finds and transform them into something fun, creative, and eye-catching!

The other day I went to Goodwill and found a beautiful mirror with decorative, sun-like frame. Sadly, the mirror was cracked. Despite the flaw, I couldn’t resist the mirror for the rock-bottom price, so I went for it!

Instead of deeming my broken mirror useless, I decided to repurpose it into a picture frame instead. If you are lucky enough to find something cool like this, you can try it out yourself. All you need is:mirror3

  1. A decorative framed mirror or plate
  2. A frame-worthy picture
  3. Silicone glue
  4. A pair of scissors

Take your picture and cut it into the shape and size of the mirror or plate you are using. Be careful when cutting the picture because it has to be the same exact size as the frame interior to avoid gaps. Use silicone glue to adhere the photo to the frame interior and voila! This is the final result of the project and I must say I am amazed at how well it turned out. You can’t even tell it is not an actual picture frame!

mirror2

Scarleth recommends Goodwill to anyone who likes undertaking creative DIY projects on a cheap budget. For more glass-inspired ideas, visit her at Glass and Mirror Pros, Facebook and Pinterest.

Goodwill Public Policy Team Delves into Key FY2015 Budget Issues

March 14, 2014

capitol hillPresident Obama has said that 2014 is a “year of action,” and the Administration’s FY 2015 budget request proposes a host of initiatives aimed at employment and job training and represents a substantial commitment to helping people find and keep good jobs.

Below, we highlight priorities of particular interest to Goodwill. The GII public policy team will be hard at work on Capitol Hill in the upcoming weeks and months pressing for resources that will help our agencies perform their mission.

Service Members and Transition to Civilian Life

The president’s budget supports initiatives such as pre-separation counseling and employment workshops, and mandating compliance with a Career Readiness Standard before transition. It also provides targeted resourc­es for wounded veterans in order to reduce dis­ability evaluation processing time, ensure that recovering service members have active recovery plans and that those who transition to veteran status will have timely access to benefits.

Finally, the budget includes $33 million to continue the Integrated Disability Evaluation System (IDES) and VetSuccess on Campus initiatives. IDES and VetSuccess counselors ensure that veterans, especially wounded veterans and students, receive timely information about education opportunities, job counseling and placement. The budget also proposes $1 billion to create the Veterans Job Corps program that would put thousands of veterans back to work over the next five years.

Work Opportunities for Low- Income Parents

The Obama Administration proposes redirecting $602 million in annual Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) funding to a Pathways to Jobs initiative, which will support state partnerships with employers to provide subsidized job opportu­nities for low-income individuals.

Investments in Training and Employment Services

Included in the budget is more than $3 billion in formula grants to states and locali­ties to provide training and employment ser­vices to more than 20 million Americans at 2,500 job centers across the coun­try. The “Opportunity, Growth and Security” initiative would add another $750 million to restore prior cuts to these grants; increase the investment in innovation, evidence-based practices and performance in the workforce system; and provide additional funding for programs that serve populations with sig­nificant barriers to employment.

Creates New Pathways to Jobs and Careers

The budget proposes $1.5 billion to support a four-year, $6 billion Community College Job-Driven Training Fund that will offer competitive grants to partnerships of community col­leges, public and nonprofit training entities, industry groups and employers to launch new training programs and apprenticeships. It also includes $2.5 billion in mandatory funding for Summer Jobs Plus, which will fund summer and year-round job opportunities for 600,000 youth as well as innovation grants aimed at improving skills and career options for disadvantaged youth.

Performance and Innovation

The proposal invests an amount equal to five percent of the Workforce Investment Act (WIA) formula grants in driving in­novation and performance at the state and local level through. This includes $60 million in the Workforce Innovation Fund to support inno­vative state and regional approaches to ser­vice delivery; and $80 million for improved incentive grants to reward states that suc­ceed through their WIA programs in serving workers with the greatest barriers to em­ployment.

Unemployed Workers

$158 million in reemployment and eligibility assess­ments and reemployment services is also included under the budget. This investment will reach those who are most likely to exhaust their unemployment insurance (UI) benefits, as well as all recently separated veterans transitioning to civilian jobs.

The budget also provides $2 billion in mandatory funding to encourage states to adopt Bridge to Work programs, which would allow in­dividuals to continue receiving their weekly UI check while participating in a short-term work placement and support other strategies for get­ting UI claimants back to work more quickly. In addition, it requests $4 billion in man­datory funding to support partnerships between businesses, education and training provid­ers to train approximately one million long-term unemployed workers for new jobs.

Employment for People with Disabilities

The budget provides new authority and $400 million in new resources for the Social Security Administration (SSA), in partnership with other federal agencies, to test innovative strategies to help people with disabilities remain in the workforce. Early-intervention measures, such as supportive employment, targeted incentives for employers, and incentives and opportunities for states to better coordinate services, have the potential to achieve long-term gains.

Paul Seifert is a Senior Public Policy Specialist with Goodwill Industries International.  

Distracted? How to Get Back to Business

March 11, 2014

distractionAfter a long winter, the spring like temperatures outside can become a distraction to your daily work activities. When spring fever strikes, use these tips and strategies to help get you back to business.

Find a Quiet Place to Work

The ideal workspace is a quiet and private office, yet the reality is that many of us work in open cubes or in close proximity to noise and distraction.  If possible, find a room with a closed door to sit in if you need extra focus time.

De-clutter Your Workspace

Whether it’s filing those papers that have been sitting on the corner of your desk, putting away binders in cabinets or just cleaning off your desk and keyboard, you will always feel refreshed when working at a clean space. This is a great project to tackle on Friday afternoons when brain function may be at an all-time low.

Take Notes

Have you ever finished a marathon meeting and wondered, “Now what was I supposed to do?”  Take notes and never miss another assignment!  You don’t have to recap the whole meeting, but when people are discussing next steps or deadlines, make sure that you write those down.  Your scribbles will do wonders for keeping you focused during your next work session and will make all those meetings you attend more productive.

Prioritize Tasks

Make a list of all of the tasks you need to do, then assign importance levels to the tasks. For example, use “red” to highlight tasks that have a deadline of today, “orange” for something that needs to be completed this week, and “green” for tasks that you have a little bit of time to work on.  Then get to work on the “red” tasks first.  This can help you meet deadlines promptly and reduce all the time you spend figuring out what to do next.

Break It Down

If start to feel overwhelmed, it could be because you are taking on too much at a time.  Break a large job into smaller, more manageable pieces.  Consider doing a small part of the project each day for a week until it’s complete.  This can help ease stress levels, which, if left untreated, can become an additional distraction.

Use Relaxation Techniques

When I have had a tough day at work, I often find that I just need to breathe.  Take one minute every hour to take slow, deep breaths in and out of your nose (recommend using five seconds breathe in and five seconds breathe out).  If you crave more intensive breathing exercises, you could opt for Alternate Nostril breathing.  Yogis have practiced “Nodi Sodhana” for thousands of years as a way to promote health and overall well-being.  Another great relaxation technique is to do yoga once or twice a week.  Yoga, breathing techniques and meditation are all great ways to reset yourself so that you are ready to start your next task.

Now, let’s all get to work!

Sara Trexler is the South Boulevard JobLink Manager.

De-clutter Your Home by Donating: Commonly Stockpiled Items

February 26, 2014

donationsWhy wait until spring to clean out the junk that’s cluttering up your home? It’s easier to let go of belongings when they’re going to a good cause. Not only is donating a socially conscious and environmentally friendly way to de-clutter your home, but when you donate to Goodwill, you are also helping people get jobs and acquire much-needed necessities that may otherwise be out of reach.

From coffee mugs to computer equipment, chances are that you have more of these commonly stockpiled items to donate than you may realize.

Clothing: A lot of our closets have at least a few (if not far too many) items that we no longer wear or that no longer quite fit. Consider clearing through your closet and your children’s closets and pruning through everything you no longer need, from coats and scarves, pants and skirts, shoes and boots, to formalwear that you’ve been photographed in a few too many times. If there aren’t smaller children in the family to benefit from hand-me-downs, children’s clothing could make a difference in a family’s life. Make sure the clothing is clean before you drop it off at a donation site.

Toys: Have your kids outgrown some of their favorite toys? If your children have received toys as gifts that they never quite warmed to, or if you’ve received duplicates of popular toys from both sides of the family, consider clearing out space by donating these items as well. Think of the joy that these toys could bring to other children, not to mention the extra space in your home.

Computer Equipment & Electronics: If you’ve recently upgraded your computer or accessories, you may not be sure what to do with that old laptop or printer that still works, but no longer meets your needs. Computers equipment can take up a lot of space in your home, so consider donating computers, printers, mice, keyboards, and other peripherals. These items can be cost-prohibitive for many folks, so you could be making a real difference in someone’s education or pursuit of employment. Goodwill has recycling programs for computer equipment that aim to reduce waste going to landfills as well. Functional cameras, TVs, VCRs and DVDs are also items that can find a second home.

Books: Whether or not you’re an avid reader, chances are there are books taking up valuable space on your shelves — cookbooks, children’s books, novels from previous book club meetings. Think of all the new books you’ll make room for after you donating books you’ve either read or, realistically, just don’t think you’ll get around to reading. As you clear through your book shelves, ask yourself how long the book has been sitting there, and how likely you are to read it again (or ever).

Furniture: Who doesn’t have an extra coffee table, desk chair, or bookcase that is taking up valuable room in the garage or in your filled-to-the-max storage unit? You’ll be glad to have the extra space and it will feel good to give these furniture items a new beginning. Extra lamps can brighten up someone’s home, too; just be sure to plug in lamps you’re considering donating to make sure they still work.

Kitchenware: Have you gotten more mugs at holiday gift exchanges than you know what to do with? Find yourself with extra plates, bowls, and pots and pans that are making your cabinets hard to navigate? These items are a must-have for all homes; clear out your cabinets and drawers give your unneeded kitchen items (including utensils) a new start in someone else’s kitchen. Working appliances are also a great thing to donate, particularly since they can take up a lot of space in your home.

Regardless of the season, doing a “spring cleaning” will help put a spring in your step, as well as the organizations and individuals that will benefit from your donations. Be sure to check the donation guidelines before you drop off your goods, and make sure everything is clean and functional.

What do you have taking up space in your basement or garage? What organizations in your community could benefit from your de-cluttering?

Jessica Johnson works for http://www.extraspace.com and contributes to the Extra Space Storage blog, exploring various aspects of organizing and storing possessions.

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