When you visit Goodwill, you are sure to find a bunch of items you wouldn’t find anywhere else. Many times I have found silverware that is mismatched. Don’t pass those by! Instead, pick up a couple of spoons and try making these fun crafts with them:
Hanging Flower Basket Holders
All you need to make these is a steel drill bit to drill a hole in the spoon so that you can screw onto the wall. A pair of pliers will come in handy for bending the spoon into shape. [Via]
Light Bulb Décor
Another great idea for spoon crafts is to spruce up a boring light bulb. Here is an example of creativity at work! Use thick wire in the same color as the spoons to bind them together around a dangling bare bulb. They make for a great addition to the décor at special events. [Via]
Tea Light Holder
This simple craft can be made the same way as the hanging basket holder, just flipped. Use a drill to screw in the handles and bend up the bowl for a perfect place to rest your tea light candles. [Via]
Last but not least is a fun and useful spoon craft. Flattening out the spoons is not necessary; it works well either way. Just screw the bowls into a sturdy and decorative piece of wood and bend up the handles to create one-of-a-kind coat hooks or towel hooks. [Via]
As you can see, there are many great crafts you can make with silverware from Goodwill. Try one of these fun and simple crafts or see what great ideas you can come up with on your own.
Nancy Parker is a regular contributor to enannysource and she loves to write about wide range of subjects like health, parenting, child care, babysitting and nanny background check tips. You can reach her at nancy.parker015 @ gmail.com
Qualified individuals can use the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program to help them file their tax returns. Under this volunteer-run service, IRS-certified tax preparers will file returns for individuals or families with an adjusted gross income of $52,000 or less. For the fifth year in a row, Goodwill will operate a VITA site at its Career Development Center (2122 Freedom Drive, Charlotte) beginning Wednesday, January 29 through Tuesday, April 15. The site is open by appointment only each Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday from 6:00-9:00 p.m., and each Saturday from 9:00 a.m.-2:00 p.m. for walk-ins. Review our checklist to make sure you bring the appropriate documents with you.
Goodwill encourages taxpayers to ask about the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC), which provides tax breaks for some working families who earn up to $52,000 and can provide refunds up to $6,044. The IRS estimates that nearly 20 percent of eligible workers do not claim the EITC each year because they lack awareness of the program, cannot afford costly tax preparation fees or fear they will lose public benefits by filing.
To educate local taxpayers about the Earned Income Tax Credit, Goodwill will host a free EITC Awareness Day on Saturday, February 1 from 9:00 a.m.-1:00 p.m. at its Career Development Center. Pre-registration is not required for this event.
To schedule an appointment for Goodwill’s VITA site, or to see if you qualify for free tax preparation, call (704) 761-VITA (8482) from 9:00 a.m.-4:00 p.m. Tuesday-Friday or schedule an appointment online. Click here for more information on local VITA sites.
The 2014 tax deadline is April 15. Don’t pay someone to do your taxes if you qualify for this free service. Help us by spreading the word about our tax assistance program with your friends and family, neighbors and co-workers.
Nubia Velazquez was working at a local dry cleaning business when she first heard about Goodwill’s free job training programs from a customer. After meeting with a Goodwill career counselor and learning about the services available to her, Nubia opted to enroll in the seven-week Banking & Customer Service training program. Taking a leap of faith, she resigned from her job to focus solely on her career training. “I always wanted to do something just for myself,” she says. “Here was my chance.”
Nubia sums up the competitive edge that Goodwill gave her in one word: confidence. “I had plenty of work experience, but I didn’t have the confidence to sell myself to an employer, especially in another language,” says the Nicaraguan native. Strengthening her interview skills became one of Nubia’s class goals.
During class, Nubia’s instructors worked with her on practicing how to best respond to interview questions and also showed her techniques for relaxing during an interview. Before she came to Goodwill, Nubia’s husband would often have to translate for her in job-seeking situations. But with enough practice, Nubia soon felt comfortable discussing her skills and qualifications in English. The interviewing strategies she learned in class paid off when Nubia was called in to interview for a teller position with Wells Fargo.
“When I walked into the interview room at Wells Fargo, it had the same set-up as the mock interview room at Goodwill,” Nubia recalls. Her mock interview training had not only prepared her for what to expect and what to ask, but it was also useful in putting her immediately at ease. “I visualized one of my classmate’s heads on the recruiter,” she laughs.
Nubia also gained confidence with computer programs and new technologies. “I did my very first Power Point presentation at Goodwill,” she says proudly. At graduation, Nubia received the Highest Test Score award in her class.
In the short-term, Nubia’s goal is to secure a teller position at a financial institution, a goal well within her reach. She was soon called in for a second interview with Wells Fargo after her initial meeting with the recruiter. A long-term career goal for Nubia is to obtain her loan officer license and eventually move into a different bank department.
“I came to Goodwill knowing nothing about computers or job interviews, but now I feel that I can do anything asked of me,” says Nubia. “I don’t have enough words to say ‘thank you’ for what I’ve learned here.”
How do you build confidence?
There is nothing like the start of a new year to tackle home projects like cleaning out and organizing your closet. As I was putting away my Christmas decorations, I realized my closet is full of items I hadn’t touched in over a year. This was the motivation I needed to clean out my closet and I ended up with a ton of great donations for Goodwill! Here are 5 tips for reorganizing your closet.
1. Decide what you really love.
There are some items that you know you really love and aren’t going to part with, and that’s okay! Just decide what those items are and take them out of the decision making process since you know these items are here to stay.
2. Take out anything you haven’t worn in a year.
This one is really hard for me. However, if I haven’t worn something in a year, chances are I don’t like it anymore and I probably won’t wear it again. For me, the exception to this rule is formalwear. I have some dresses that I still love and will definitely wear again, but did not have the opportunity to wear them this year.
3. Put away off-season clothes.
After cleaning out all the clothes you don’t want, you should have some extra room in your closet. However, I still needed to put away all of my off-season clothes. All of my Spring and Summer clothes are folded up in plastic bins and placed on the bottom of my linen closet or on the top shelves in my closet. This should free up even more room and also make choosing an outfit easier since all the clothes in your closet are now appropriate for the current season.
4. Organize the remaining clothes by type.
What works for me is organizing my closet by type. I have everything divided into these categories: coats, dresses, tops, pants, and skirts. This helps me quickly evaluate what I have to work with in the morning and decide on an outfit faster!
5. Invest in a shoe rack.
I have two shoe racks. One that hangs in my closet for flats and sandals and one that I attached to the wall for heels and wedges. Before was just throwing all of my shoes on the bottom of my closet… not good! I find that when shoes are organized and displayed you don’t forget about shoes you haven’t worn in awhile and they stay in better condition.
What are your tips for cleaning out your closet and getting organized?
Do you ever fall prey to the myth that one person can’t make a difference? At Goodwill, we see and hear real-life stories every day that dispel that argument. Whether it’s a teacher spending some extra time after class to talk with a student or a mentor offering words of encouragement to a teen, we know that even a small action can make a big impact to a person in need.
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. once said, “Life’s most persistent and urgent question is: ‘What are you doing for others?’” Each year, people across the country answer that question by coming together on the MLK Day of Service, which falls on January 20 this year, to volunteer in their neighbors and communities.
Volunteers and interns play an integral part in helping Goodwill change lives through the power of work and we are always looking for new faces to provide professional advice, leadership and assistance with various programs and services. Are you a people person? Consider conducting a mock interview to help students gain the confidence they need to prepare them for both post-secondary interviews and actual job interviews. If writing is more your thing, we frequently need volunteers to work with students one-on-one in a classroom setting to provide resume feedback. Maybe you’ve got a great personal or professional story to share. As a guest speaker, you can share your education, work and life experiences with our participants to help them understand how to navigate challenges and take advantage of the many opportunities available to them. These are just a sampling of the many volunteer opportunities available through our Champions for Good program.
This Sunday, January 19 will mark what would have been the 151st birthday of Goodwill Industries’ founder, Rev. Edgar J. Helms. Helms was a strong advocate of employment, not charity, as being the key to end poverty and help the needy. Today our organization’s work continues to reflect Helms’ belief: what people need is “a chance, not a charity.” Helping someone earn the chance to prove his or her potential pays dividends in building stronger communities.
Can one person make a difference? You should certainly try. Even a small act of kindness has the power to significantly change someone’s life.
Gaining professional skills at Goodwill has been a family affair for Lajonté Grier and some of his relatives. His grandmother completed Goodwill’s Hospitality & Tourism training a few years ago and his cousin has been employed by Goodwill. When Lajonté found himself out of a job last year, he decided to follow in their footsteps and seek assistance with his employment search at Goodwill.
Lajonté describes himself as having led a “rough life.” As a child, he floated in and out of group homes and received little encouragement to stay in school, much less identify career goals for the future. An uncle who worked in the construction business offered to help Lajonté gain some work experience by having him assist on odd jobs. “I was able to get some experience through these jobs, but I lacked the technical expertise,” explains Lajonté.
At Goodwill he learned that he could participate in a seven-week Construction Skills Training program to bolster his resume. Over the course of the program, Lajonté admits that he had to overcome certain fears of being back in a classroom and credits “being consistent and being bold” to helping him get the most out of the specialized training. A key turning point came when his class worked on a Habitat for Humanity project and installed 500 solar panels on houses to make them more energy-efficient. “That gave me confidence that I could do the work and do it well,” he says. “Now I not only knew how to use the tools properly, but I also felt comfortable as a leader in helping others learn.”
Lajonté’s leadership skills did not go unnoticed by his classmates and at graduation he received the “Team Player” award from his peers. While honored to receive the award, Lajonté says his work is far from over. He plans to take GED classes offered by Goodwill this year to continue his education. And while his short-term goal is to find permanent employment in the construction industry, his long-term goal is to work with children who, like him, are lacking a support system and mentor while growing up.
Setting clear career goals is important to Lajonté and he encourages other job seekers to do the same. “Pick a lane and if you can see the other side, stick with it,” he advises. “Don’t let anything hold you back.”
How do you help others?
Enrolled college students who also maintain part- or full-time employment are a common part of today’s academic climate. According to a recent report from the U.S. Census Bureau, more than 70% of U.S. students held down jobs during their four years of undergraduate study, and roughly one in five logged 35 hours or more per week throughout the school year. Similar trends exist within the online learning community. A 2006-09 survey of nearly 70,000 online students from 87 different institutions found that most were employed full-time while they earned their degree; additionally, half were married and 35% had children.
Clearly, a routine that effectively balances school, work, and family life is crucial for the success of online higher education. However, it’s also important for web learners to gain experience in the professional field they are studying while their program is in progress ― and for many, their current occupation does not match their long-term professional goals.
This article will provide some tips and ideas for online students who wish to gain valuable skills and experience that is vital to their prospective career without sacrificing that much-needed paycheck.
The Life of a Working Student
Before pursuing professional opportunities related to their degree path, online students should ensure they are able to make such a commitment. For this reason, University of Pennsylvania Professor Laura Perna recommends that students curtail their weekly work schedules. “While working more than 15 hours per week may be financially necessary,” she told U.S. News & World Report, “I suggest that students first be sure that they have taken full advantage of all available sources of financial aid, especially financial aid in the form of grants.”
However, it’s important to note that some employment options are more beneficial to students than others. Robin Dizes, manager of career development services at Peirce College, tells Fox Business that certain opportunities ― such as paid internships and temporary positions in the student’s chosen field ― often lead to promising career leads after graduation. “If you choose employment that meets your needs, you will be more likely to continue to work there long-term, and long-term employment is attractive to employers, builds your resume and allows you to have stability in your career,” she said.
The reality, however, is that many students are required to take on jobs unrelated to their field just to finance their tuition payments, pay rent and bills, and provide for extracurricular activities. Rather than jeopardizing their primary means of support, academic experts urge online students to seek out opportunities that will assist their career plans without consuming large amounts of time or energy.
lnternships are highly coveted among college students for several reasons. First, they enable students to experience firsthand the working environment they plan to enter once they have obtained a degree. Additionally, these positions allow students to network with professionals in their field, learn practical skills not taught in the classroom, and collaborate with other interns to hone their teamwork skills. And in many cases, internships lead to entry-level positions for students once they graduate.
However, there are also some drawbacks to internships. Time commitment is a major factor; most internships require 20 hours or more per week ― and since the majority of these opportunities do not award any monetary compensation, students must forego paid work to satisfy their demands as an intern. However, even paid interns often encounter another problem: the work they perform is vastly different from hired employees. Interns often assist with housekeeping, office logistics, and other menial tasks that may have little (if anything) to do with their prospective career. Finally, the quality of the internship is important; some companies seek interns with the genuine desire to train them and expose them to working conditions in their future field, while others simply view them as free laborers.
Online students can learn about different internship opportunities by reaching out to their professors and corresponding with officials at their institution’s web-based career center; information is also available through nationally based websites like InternMatch and Indeed.com. However, Forbes contributor Frances Bridges says the key to landing a desirable internship is through thorough research of the industry as a whole. Students should look into hiring practices and business philosophies of all the major companies and organizations in their field, as well as stock market performance, popular products, and other constantly changing variables. Students who can intelligently discuss the current state of their prospective profession fare best during intern interviews.
Depending on a student’s chosen major, there may be opportunities to earn experience ― as well as a little supplemental income ― by pursuing gigs as a freelancer. Fields where freelancing is common include writing and journalism, web development and marketing, computer programming, business consulting, and graphic design, as well as burgeoning industries like medical billing and coding and project management. Freelancing allows students to demonstrate their skills and passion for their field of study outside the classroom. This option is particularly attractive to students with part- or full-time jobs, since they often get to decide how many (or few) freelance assignments to take on at once.
Students are encouraged to check out established sites that cater to freelancers, such as ELance, oDesk, and Guru.com. Molly Merez, executive director of Ticket Summit, also recommends reaching out to local businesses and organizations. “Oftentimes companies don’t have the budget for a full time employee but do have the money to pay on a project by project basis,” she tells Fox Business.
One word of caution about freelancing opportunities: like internships, they are not all created equal. Stephen Fishman, J.D., notes in Nolo Law for All that regulations governing fair treatment and compensation of employees may not extend to freelancers. “Some [independent contractors] have great difficulty getting their clients to pay on time or at all,” Fishman notes. “When you’re an IC, you bear the risk of loss from deadbeat clients.” This may not be a major issue for students who obtain these jobs solely for the professional experience, but it certainly affects those who freelance to support themselves.
Many online students opt to tutor children and adults in their local community, as well as their collegiate peers; some specialize in group classes, while others tutor clients one-on-one. Like freelancers, tutors pursue independent gigs (based on the demands of their individual schedule) that allow them to gain experience in their field and earn a little money on the side. Most tutors focus on core subjects like mathematics and literacy, while others teach skills like personal finance, computer programming, or foreign languages. Regardless of the subject, the key components to being a successful tutor are identifying the educational demands within one’s local community, creating a viable lesson plan, and delivering satisfactory services that generate positive word-of-mouth.
Most college career centers provide resources for students who wish to tutor; additionally, web users can register with online tutor referral agencies like TutorGeek and Tutor Match to locate potential clients. Community outreach is also crucial; tutors should create a website with information about their services, post fliers on job boards advertising their services, and print business cards. Home-based tutoring is somewhat frowned upon. For this reason, students are urged to contact their local library or community center to inquire about reserving conference rooms on a regular basis. Digital tutoring is also a popular alternative to face-to-face sessions.
In lieu of paid opportunities, many students obtain skills and experience through unpaid volunteer work. Accounting students assist community members at their local library during tax season; aspiring nurses donate their time to blood banks and other medical establishments; and student teachers spend their time assisting educators in the classroom. Volunteering is especially useful for students in any major who don’t have any professional experience and are hoping to bolster their resume ― particularly opportunities that allow the student to travel abroad.
Huffington Post contributors Steven Weddle and Billy Beltz urge prospective overseas volunteers to thoroughly research all potential opportunities before signing up. “You’re about to make a very serious commitment in terms of time, money and impact on others,” they note. “Questions to ask include: Is your program fee going to good use? Will you actually add meaningful value to your project? Will you be safe?” They recommend visiting reputable sites like Volunteer Forever to learn more about viable international opportunities.
For those who wish to volunteer stateside, the University of New Hampshire encourages college students to contact different organizations within their local communities; websites like www.volunteer.gov provide detailed, area-specific information about different opportunities. And while all volunteer work is inherently rewarding on a karmic level, students should prioritize opportunities that help them build the skills they need to succeed and gain insight into the industry they’ll enter upon graduation.
Other Ways to Gain Experience
In addition to internships, freelance work, tutoring services, and volunteer projects, online students can prepare themselves for the workforce by attending seminars, conferences, and other events associated with their future career. These gatherings often provide outlets for attendees to learn new skills, network with professionals in their field, and learn more about the current state of their industry. Massive open online courses (MOOCs) may also be useful; these free web classes typically don’t award credit, but they do impart valuable skills and proficiencies to students who complete the coursework. Coursera, edX, and Udacity are some of today’s leading MOOC providers.
But even with all of these options, students should seek out as much wisdom as they can from their current job, even if that job isn’t related to their degree or career path. Every position carries transferable duties and responsibilities; restaurant workers must excel at customer service, office assistants gain a good grasp on the inner-workings of business operations and corporate culture, and employees in retail learn about sales, marketing, and financial management. And regardless of the position itself, every place of employment offers the chance for students to network with co-workers, clients, and customers.
Juggling academic responsibilities and work obligations can be frustrating, and these demands ostensibly leave little time for other pursuits. However, there are plenty of professionally oriented opportunities available to today’s online students that require minimal time commitment, but still manage to reward them with the skills, experience, and expertise required to excel in their field once they’ve earned their degree. The trick is knowing where ― and how ― to find them.
This article was contributed by staff writers at OnlineColleges.net.