Skip to content

Volunteer Spotlight: Dan Z.

May 20, 2013
Volunteer Dan Zacharski offers resume advice to a workshop participant

Volunteer Dan Zacharski offers resume advice to a workshop participant

During the four years that I have volunteered with Goodwill, I continue to be impressed with the dedication of the staff. In fact, I have been so impressed by their commitment to Goodwill’s mission of Changing Lives Through the Power of Work that I recommend volunteering here to both youth and adult class participants who have served time in a correctional facility.

It is a fact that those with a criminal past, which includes serving time in jail, have a more difficult time finding employment than those who have not served time.  In addition to acquiring marketable skills, previous offenders must meet the additional burden of demonstrating to prospective employers that they have been rehabilitated. Volunteering at an organization like Goodwill shows employers that the individual is putting forth a good-faith effort to turn his or her life around.

While there are a number of organizations where one can volunteer, Goodwill’s focus on getting people back to work provides volunteers with a good opportunity to experience the workplace environment.  The fact that they are in a volunteer program geared towards finding family sustaining employment reflects well on them.  As a community, it is important to support efforts by prior offenders to find meaningful work, which will positively impact their life and help prevent them from returning to jail.  Goodwill’s efforts to assist previous offenders in acquiring employable skills and obtaining employment makes me feel that my contribution in assisting all students, regardless of their past, has been and will continue to be a worthwhile effort.

Dan Zacharski is a volunteer with Goodwill’s Champions for Good program. For more information on volunteer opportunities, please contact Community Engagement Manager Kilby Watson at (704) 332-0316 or

Goodwill Honors Community Leaders at 2013 Cornerstone Celebration

May 15, 2013

Goodwill recognized eight community leaders and businesses for their work in helping people overcome barriers to employment and self-sufficiency at the 19th annual Cornerstone celebration held May 9 at The Westin Charlotte. WSOC-TV news anchor Erica Bryant emceed the ceremony, during which powerful stories of perseverance and resiliency were shared with an audience of 700 guests.

“It was a privilege to honor our Cornerstone Award recipients and recognize the valuable work they are doing in our community,” said Michael Elder, President & CEO of Goodwill. “Each of the award recipients has a strong commitment to supporting job creation and developing new employment opportunities locally.”

The recipients of the 2013 Cornerstone Awards were: Jack Callaghan Cornerstone Award to Jane McIntyre, Executive Director of United Way of Central Carolinas; HELMS Volunteer of the Year Award to Mae Nelson, General Manager of Hampton Inn & Suites in Pineville; Corporate Champion Award to the City of Charlotte; Corporate Champion Award to Community Link, a nonprofit organization focused on helping people obtain safe and affordable housing; Good Work! Award to Theotis Hancock, Goodwill graduate and employee with the Charlotte Housing Authority; Good Work! Award to Carlos and Robert Hunter, Goodwill graduates and owners of Hunter & Hunter General Services, LLC; Good Work! Award to Fletcher Knox, Goodwill graduate and 15-year employee with BB&T.

Special thanks to Bank of America and Wells Fargo for serving as presenting sponsors for the 2013 Cornerstone Awards celebration and to Fifth Third Bank for serving as event sponsor. Photography by Darling Media Group.

Goodwill CEO Michael Elder with Julie Burch, Assistant City Manager for the City of Charlotte

Goodwill CEO Michael Elder with Julie Burch, Assistant City Manager for the City of Charlotte

Carlos Hunter, Goodwill instructor Brian Otto, Theotis Hancock and Robert Hunter

Carlos Hunter, Goodwill instructor Brian Otto, Theotis Hancock and Robert Hunter

Fletcher Knox and his father

Fletcher Knox and his father

Mae Nelson accepts the HELMS Volunteer of the Year Award

Mae Nelson accepts the HELMS Volunteer of the Year Award

Jane McIntyre (center) stands with emcee Erica Bryant and Kieth Cockrell, Goodwill board member and Sr. Initiative Portfolio Executive, Bank of America

Jane McIntyre (center) stands with emcee Erica Bryant and Kieth Cockrell, Goodwill board member and Sr. Initiative Portfolio Executive, Bank of America

Community Link staff (CEO Floyd Davis, Jr. pictured center)

Community Link staff (CEO Floyd Davis, Jr. pictured center)

Jay Norvell, Goodwill board member and Diversity & Inclusion Strategy Consultant for Technology & Operations at Wells Fargo, poses with Goodwill staff Genny Ryan, Cheryl Brown and Kilby Watson

Jay Norvell, Goodwill board member and Diversity & Inclusion Strategy Consultant for Technology & Operations at Wells Fargo, poses with Goodwill staff members Genny Ryan, Cheryl Brown and Kilby Watson

Elizabeth Isenhour

Elizabeth Isenhour

NC Construction Outlook Bullish for 2013

May 13, 2013

constructionNorth Carolina’s construction outlook is improving as a result of proposed legislation before the North Carolina General Assembly, ranging from improving underground safety and damage prevention to more funding for construction and design. That was the message delivered to industry insiders at a recent annual meeting of the United Minority Contractors of North Carolina.

Governor Pat McCrory’s proposed budget includes $300 million for repairs and renovations involving state agencies and the University of North Carolina (UNC) system. In addition, legislation has been introduced that would provide funding for about $480 million for UNC construction projects. Also on the table are public schools needs across North Carolina—including $900 million in a possible bond referendum for the Wake County schools, the largest school system in the Carolinas—that would help stimulate construction work and boost the economy.

The proposed legislation comes as good news for graduates of Goodwill’s Construction Skills Training program. This five-week program, in partnership with Central Piedmont Community College, assists individuals in quickly developing the basic knowledge and skills necessary to obtain an entry level position or better in the construction industry. The classes at Goodwill, taught by National Center for Construction Education and Research (NCCER) certified instructors, also provide OSHA-10 safety cards and offer additional forklift training and certification.

Elizabeth Isenhour

Elizabeth Isenhour

Know someone interested in entering the construction field? For more information, please call 704-332-0272.


Success Story: Carlos and Robert

May 10, 2013

HUNTER-BROTHERSbioFor brothers Carlos and Robert Hunter, breaking into the construction industry during the economic downturn took a leap of faith. Yet their gamble to launch a new business paid off, thanks to the training they received at Goodwill. For their perseverance and entrepreneurial spirit, they were honored with Goodwill’s Good Work! Award.

Carlos and Robert participated in Goodwill’s Construction Skills Training program, which armed them with the knowledge, skills and certifications necessary to succeed in the business industry. “We had the heart to do construction work, but we needed to sharpen our skills and gain an insider’s perspective of the business side of operations,” said Carlos.

Their desire to learn and willingness to help others was apparent to all who came in contact with them. “Carlos and Robert quickly showed themselves as leaders and mentors,” said Brian Otto, General Manager of Goodwill Construction Services. “Their example and drive gained respect from staff and students alike.” In fact, the Hunters were so eager to establish a foothold in the construction industry that they often stayed after hours to discuss information not covered in class.

After graduating in 2010, Carlos and Robert opened Hunter & Hunter General Services, LLC. Using the skills and experience they gained at Goodwill, they took on multiple residential construction projects, while simultaneously calling on industry contacts drawn from Goodwill’s professional network. After months of cold calls and meetings without result, the brothers grew discouraged. “There were days that we wanted to quit,” said Robert, “but we encouraged each other and kept pressing forward.” Their persistence paid off when they became the first minority contractors to land a commercial contract with Gilbane, Inc., an industry leader in building and construction.

Today Hunter & Hunter is a successful company that has been awarded numerous commercial building contracts across the state and employs 11 people, include former Goodwill graduates. “People arrive at Goodwill with their own set of hardships,” said Carlos, “but Goodwill encourages them to keep trying and never give up. Our goal is to do the same. Everybody needs a second chance.”

Elizabeth Isenhour

Elizabeth Isenhour

The Hunters’ story was profiled by news anchor Erica Bryant with WSOC-TV in a special segment that aired May 9, 2013. To view the video, click here.

DIY Mother’s Day Gift Ideas

May 6, 2013

photoMother’s Day is May 12 and time is running out to get a special gift to honor her. Rather than giving a gift from the mall this year, we suggest making Mom a handmade present that shows your appreciation. Here are three of our favorite DIY gift ideas using items you can easily find at your local Goodwill store.

Tablet Holder

We love this cool idea from our friends at Mamie Jane’s for making a DIY iPad/tablet holder from an old cutting board (Jane scored hers at a thrift store for a dollar).

Upcycled T-Shirt Scarf

Pre-owned t-shirts from Goodwill get a second life as a standout accessory that complements your mother’s unique style. Follow these simple steps from Katelyn Wheaton of Ninth & Bird to transform old tees into a brand new spring scarf Mom is sure to love.

Candle Teacup

A trip to the thrift store is sure to turn up an old teacup (and matching saucer). Filled with fragrant candle wax, you can make a delicate candle teacup to warm Mom’s kitchen.

Elizabeth Isenhour

Elizabeth Isenhour

What are you making for Mom this Mother’s Day?

Success Story: Theotis

May 3, 2013

TheobioMany people arrive at Goodwill looking for a job, but end up finding a career instead. Such was the case for Theotis, a graduate of Goodwill’s Construction Skills Training program and current employee of the Charlotte Housing Authority.

After facing numerous closed doors to finding employment, Theotis came to Goodwill to learn how to make himself more marketable to employers. Although he had some work experience prior to enrolling in the Construction Skills Training program, the program benefited him in identifying his career goals and setting a clear path to accomplish them.

“Our program helped Theotis in several ways,” said Lisa Stancil, Business Development Representative with Goodwill. “It enabled him to obtain credentials to complement his skills and also expanded his support network tremendously. Whenever we were in a position to recommend him for job opportunities, we were more than happy to do so.”

With newly-acquired job-seeking skills and direction, Theotis quickly rebounded onto potential employers’ radars. “Goodwill prepared me to enter the workforce,” said Theotis. “For the first time, I had a functional resume and became aware of managing my finances. Most importantly, I narrowed my view of my career goals and was able to pursue jobs that met my focused interests.”

After graduation, Theotis landed a job as a Floor Technician with Crothall Healthcare. Although he was promoted twice during his employment, he did not receive a pay increase. When a position as a Service Technician at the Charlotte Housing Authority opened, Theotis asked for a recommendation from Goodwill and got the job. He has since been promoted to Service Technician II and has a clear ambition in mind. “I want to be a team leader in the maintenance field so that I can put my skills to use and also help others who need assistance,” he said. Theotis is also considering returning to school in the future, a goal he had long ago discarded. “My experience at Goodwill has rekindled my educational ambition,” he noted.

Theotis was recently awarded Goodwill’s Good Work! Award for his strides in gaining progressive responsibilities throughout his employment. “Connecting with Goodwill helped Theotis progress financially toward family-sustaining employment,” said Lisa. “He now has the resilience and drive to bounce back from obstacles and keep moving forward. He has always been sure of his ability to succeed, but now he also knows that his Goodwill family is cheering for him in the stands.”

Elizabeth Isenhour

Elizabeth Isenhour

What challenges have faced when looking for work? How did you overcome them?

The Perils of Long-Term Unemployment

May 1, 2013

unemploymentA recent study published in The Atlantic found that people who have been out of work for more than six months are overwhelmingly ignored by potential employers during the job application process. What’s more, the study concluded that the length of time that an individual has been out of work trumps other job screening factors such as education, age and work experience.

The study, conducted by two scholars at Northeastern University, ran a field experiment in which 4,800 fictitious resumes were sent out to 600 job openings, with 3,600 of them for fake unemployed people. Among those 3,600, the researchers varied how long they’d been kept out of work, how often they’d switched jobs and whether they had any industry experience (other factors like race, sex and education levels were kept constant). The results were astounding: people with relevant experience who had been unemployed for six months or longer got called back less than people without relevant experience who had been unemployed a shorter time.

Long-term unemployment is a terrifying trap, the study concludes. Here at Goodwill we are all too familiar with the dangers of joblessness and work hard on a daily basis to keep people from languishing in the unemployment line. Here are three ways we are trying to help:

Specialized Job Training

With layoffs and cutbacks prevalent in today’s work environment, more people walk through Goodwill’s doors every day looking for a career change or a second career. With proven tests to assess skill sets, personal strengths and risk factors, career specialists at Goodwill help clients identify career goals and create personalized career development plans to work towards achieving those goals.

Social Enterprises

According to Forbes magazine, Goodwill is one of the best social enterprises of our time.  Goodwill’s social enterprise programs have three primary goals:  to create jobs, provide work experience opportunities and to earn revenue to create a sustainable business model to support our mission of Changing Lives Through the Power of Work. Our innovative business ventures empower individuals to gain the necessary skills and competencies to join the workforce while providing the community with important services that generate revenue to support program operations. From construction services to temporary staffing placements, participants earn the benefits of wages, valuable work experience and current employment status to add to their resumes.

Youth Programs

Goodwill’s youth programs provide job skill development and job search resources for local youth ages 12-21. Through programs like Youth Job Connection, GoodGuides, WIA Youth Program and the Mayor’s Youth Employment Program, Goodwill has provided job training to hundreds of high school students and offered ongoing support to program graduates through mentoring, paid internships and summer employment. These programs are important because granting youth access to early work experiences will prepare them to be successful in their careers of choice.

Elizabeth Isenhour

Elizabeth Isenhour

What do you think should be done to help the long-term unemployed?


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 158 other followers