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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?

Success Story: Lawrence

September 5, 2014

Head ShotIt’s graduation day for Lawrence. He completed a seven week training program in Goodwill’s Hospitality and Tourism program and received hands-on training in customer service, banquet set-up and service, wine appreciation and concierge roles and responsibilities. But as Lawrence will be quick to tell you, he received more than training during that time. “I gained lifelong friends, more professional connections and a lifetime partner in Goodwill,” he said.

“For seven weeks, I watched my classmates strive to better themselves; and to be able to observe their journey from day one, until graduation day, I notice a great sense of confidence and pride in themselves, and for that, I am truly proud of each and every one of them,” said Lawrence.

Lawrence is a retired Army veteran. He learned about Goodwill’s training programs at a veteran luncheon where he met Brian Otto, General Manager of Goodwill’s Construction Program. Brian gave Lawrence a tour of Goodwill’s career development center and an overview of the training programs Goodwill had to offer.

Lawrence is currently the Owner and President of Wingate Media Group – an event management and media entertainment company, however his passion is in hospitality. Although he had some experience working in hospitality, Lawrence developed new knowledge and skills for working a hotel front desk.

“I enrolled in Goodwill’s training program because I always had the need to improve myself, learn new things and apply what I learned, “said Lawrence.

Lawrence’s career path aspirations includes entering in to the hotel industry as a director of convention and events as a stepping stone to becoming a hotel general manager and then ultimately becoming a hotel owner.

“I want others to learn that there is more than one path to take in life when it comes to preparing for a life career. There are other options if the college path is not the one they want to take. Goodwill takes a 360 approach to their students – they help their students become successful graduates as well as become well-prepared job candidates,” said Lawrence.

You can Help Goodwill Help U.S. Workers

August 29, 2014

Since 1894, Labor Day has been designated as a federal holiday in America to honor the economic and social contributions of the country’s workers.

For nearly that long, since 1902, Goodwill has been doing its part to bolster America’s workers. Across the country and here in the Charlotte Metro area, Goodwill provides skills training, support services and job training to help people reach their full potential.

This Labor Day, you can do your part as well. Your donations to Goodwill Industries of the Southern Piedmont will go to help fund our services. It’s easy to do. Simply gather those things you no longer need or use, make sure they’re in good condition, and head to your nearest Goodwill drop-off location. We’ll take it from there!

Labor Day Image


DIY Back-to-School Supplies

August 22, 2014

School is back in session this month—are you ready? This year save money on back-to-school essentials with DIY school supplies. We’ve rounded up five easy projects on the Internet that can be crafted using items from your local Goodwill store.

Denim Backpack

denim backpack

Your favorite jeans may be ratty and worn, but don’t toss them yet! Due to its soft yet durable nature, used denim is an inexpensive and easily available craft supply for just about everyone—and Goodwill is a treasure trove of pre-loved jeans. This tutorial for turning jeans into a backpack may require more advanced sewing skills, but the result will send you straight to the head of the class.

Hobo Lunch Bag

lunch bag

Do your lunch boxes mysteriously disappear over the course of the school year? Make one that you’ll never want to lose! This hobo knotted-style lunch bag can be made using any food-safe fabric. We personally like the idea of using a wool sweater to highlight this reusable bag’s eco-friendly qualities.

Fabric Book Covers

book covers

If your kids are required to cover their school books, this tutorial from The Good Life Blog uses thrifted fabric to give a creative twist to your textbooks.

Pencil Toppers

pencil topper

Little ones can craft, too—and these funky pencil toppers are a simple way to spice up a plain old No. 2 to send the kids back to class in style.

Sequin Accent Tees


Maybe your back-to-school budget didn’t stretch as far as you would have liked in the fashion department. Give an old t-shirt a second life by adding sequin trim using this Kollabora tutorial.

Elizabeth Isenhour

Elizabeth Isenhour

How are you preparing for back-to-school?

Barriers to Job Success: Lack of Education

August 19, 2014

hs diplomaResearch has shown that poverty and lack of education put Americans at greater risk of unemployment and underemployment. In addition, a lowered level of economic opportunity translates into greatly diminished earnings potential, little career advancement and lack of educational attainment.

A study from Georgetown University shows that workers who have suffered the most from the recession are those with a high school education or less educational background. Not only did this group lose millions of jobs when the recession began, it has continued to worsen during the sluggish recovery. Industries like manufacturing, construction and transportation, where many of the jobs don’t necessarily require advanced degrees, have all experienced sharp job losses since the recession started. The Associated Press reported that those who’ve lost their jobs during the recession are finding that they no longer qualify for jobs in their old fields because employers are demanding more skills for each new hire.

Nearly 20 percent of the 15,000 people served by Goodwill annually in the Charlotte metro area lack a GED or high school diploma. They come to Goodwill seeking to gain a foothold in an evolving job market. Having a high school degree or more seems especially important when the unemployment rate is high. But with education costs rising annually, it is no easy task for an unemployed individual to afford the steep price of educating oneself.

Thanks to Goodwill’s partnership with Central Piedmont Community College, there are many free or affordable resources available that can provide jobseekers with the education necessary in the new economy. The General Educational Development (GED) Preparation Program offers students an opportunity to gain the knowledge and skills needed to successfully pass a high school equivalency tests and earn a high school equivalency diploma. Goodwill career counselors also help participants navigate a variety of accessible courses designed to keep candidates informed and up to speed on the ever-evolving job market.

Our years of experience helping people find family-sustaining employment leads us to believe that there is much that can be done to get companies the skilled workers they need to grow through smart, targeted partnerships to equip workers with the skills and education they need.

Elizabeth Isenhour

Elizabeth Isenhour

What role has education played in your job search?

Success Story: T.T.

August 15, 2014

trecikaA single mom of two amazing young preteen girls, T.T. Dunlap struggled to survive.

“I had to go without a lot of things to just keep a roof over my family’s head,” she said. “I had to go on government assistance and work temporary jobs that didn’t pay well because I didn’t have any of the necessary skills or training to get a better-paying job.”

T.T. was unaware of Goodwill’s career development services until seeing a television commercial. From there she went online to learn more about their services before visiting Goodwill’s Career Development Center to meet with an intake specialist. She drew encouragement from her family to participate in one of their programs. “As a single mother, my children look to me as their support system as well as a supplier of their needs.  They are my motivation to want more and to have more,” T.T. says.

T.T. enrolled in Goodwill’s Construction Skills Training program to acquire the certifications and skills that were needed to break into the construction industry. Working in construction had been an ambition of hers since childhood, but being a female, she was encouraged by people close to her to seek out a more traditional women-focused career choice. For years she worked as a licensed practical nurse, but was unhappy. “I tried on several occasions to find the training that I needed to switch careers, but there are no other programs that provided what Goodwill gave me. And believe me, I searched for years,” T.T. says.

As a result of the hands-on training and industry knowledge she acquired at Goodwill, T.T. was able to successfully transition into her chosen career path and today she co-owns and operates Dunlap Steel Erectors LLC. She says her job now gives her pride and motivation. “Construction begins as nothing but a lot or acre of dirt and ends as a spectacular building for the owners and the public to enjoy.  Just knowing that my company has a hand in completing the vision is a wonderful, accomplished feeling.”

T.T. had no idea how her Goodwill experience would come full circle. A year after completing the program, T.T. had the opportunity to introduce herself to a Goodwill regional manager in South Carolina, David Hessberger. During their conversation, T.T. shared her gratitude towards Goodwill and the Construction Skills Training program. David was able to get T.T. construction projects at some of the new Goodwill retail stores, where she successfully led construction efforts.

T.T. encourages other women not be intimidated by entering a male-dominated field. “I am usually the only female working on a job site, and I am always asked why I chose construction as a career and where I received my training,” she says. “Once I tell a person about Goodwill’s construction program, they are shocked because a lot of people think of Goodwill as only the donation center and not as a career development center.”

“My life has changed for the better,” T.T. says of her situation today. She credits Goodwill for giving her a fulfilling and rewarding career and urges others to do the same. “Start making plans to change your circumstances and your future by going to a Goodwill job center and finding the resources they have to offer you and your family.”

Elizabeth Isenhour

Elizabeth Isenhour

How did you find your true calling?


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