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Summer Entertaining Made Easy

July 31, 2014

Light-filled evenings and outdoor breezes make summer the perfect time for entertaining guests at your home. Check out how blogger Jessica Ballard created a DIY summer-inspired hostess cart during a live demonstration at Goodwill’s booth at the Southern Spring & Garden Show.

Jessica picked up five items at the Mt. Island store for her project:

  1. Television cart
  2. Asian-inspired tray
  3. Set of dishes
  4. Shower curtain
  5. Cloth napkins and rings

The total for her purchases came to $26.69. The TV cart was the priciest item at $4.99 and the china pieces were sold separately.

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Jessica’s motto for DIY projects is” “Think outside the box. How would you use something differently?” Here she describes her process for transforming her Goodwill finds into summery entertaining staples.

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“The shower curtain was cut on the spot to cover up and hang down one side of the cart during the demo, but I would add it to both sides unless you plan to put it against a wall. You could also hang it around the three sides. If I had more time, I would have painted it white. I used a staple gun to attach it.

To give the letter tray a fresh look, I just cut down some pretty paper and used Mod Podge adhesive to secure and seal it.

I used E6000 craft adhesive to attach the bowls to the plate and bowl in the china to give it some height and stability. This is great for parties. Imagine using it for chips and salsa. I considered gluing one of the smaller bowls inside the larger bowl and you could put chips in the outer rim, and salsa inside the smaller bowl.”

Here’s the finished product! Read Jessica’s full post about this DIY experience on her blog Begin to Craft. And don’t forget to check out Goodwill’s booth for more decorating ideas at the upcoming Southern Ideal Home Show on August 22-24.

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Jessica Ballard is a native Southerner, mom of three kids 6 and under, and wife of 10 years to a true country boy. She is a chemist by trade and former recruiter for scientists and hospital staff. She blogs about all things parenting, DIY projects and lifestyle blessings at and

State’s Economic Growth Yields Good News for Job Seekers

July 28, 2014

clt skylineNorth Carolina’s star on the national job market radar continues to rise, bringing more good news for job seekers and businesses in our state.

Last week Forbes named Raleigh the top city on its list of Best Places for Business 2014. Raleigh beat out the 200 largest metro areas in the U.S. based on a dozen factors related to jobs, costs (business and living), income growth, quality of life and education of the labor force. Charlotte was ranked #12—beating out Atlanta and Dallas—with Forbes citing its economy as “one of America’s best performers.”

The good news follows on the heels of two major job announcements for the Queen City last week. Bubble wrap manufacturer Sealed Air Corp. announced that it will move to Charlotte and bring more than 1,200 jobs with it, making it the largest Fortune 500 corporate headquarters relocation in the city’s history. IT firm Spectra Group announced that it will bring 250 financial services jobs to the area when it opens a new delivery center here.

Goodwill applauds the local and national businesses in our region who continue to create jobs and build a robust workforce. Interested in learning how Goodwill can train you for career? Visit our Career Development Center at 2122 Freedom Drive in Charlotte or learn about the job training services we provide the community.

Elizabeth Isenhour

Elizabeth Isenhour

What types of jobs would you like to see in the Charlotte job market?

Avoiding the Job Search Blues

July 23, 2014

jobseeker2You’ve submitted dozens of job applications, updated your resume and practiced your 30-second elevator speech—yet weeks pass without landing an interview, much less a job offer. If job hunting depresses you, you’re not alone. Looking for a job is an unpredictable process with no guarantees and a huge amount at stake.

However, remaining positive throughout your job search is important to your motivation and self-esteem, both of which are highly visible and desirable factors to recruiters. Use these tips to rechannel your energy into landing the perfect career opportunity.

  • Volunteer – Unemployment can take a toll on your self-esteem and make you feel powerless. Volunteering helps you maintain a sense of value and purpose. Find an organization that is related to your personal interests or your career. Volunteering can also provide career experiences, social support and networking opportunities.
  • Join a support group – Other job seekers can be a valuable source of encouragement, support and job leads. Tap into this resource by joining or starting a job seeker support group. Being around other job seekers can be energizing and motivating. Simple words of encouragement can be a huge boost during this difficult time.
  • Learn a new skill – There may be free or low-cost online courses available through continuing education in your community. You can also visit your local Goodwill for free resume clinics or Occupational Skills Training courses.
  • Read – Borrow books from your public library. The benefits of reading include reduced stress, improved memory and stronger analytical skills. Plus it’s free entertainment!
  • Find a silver lining – Maybe it’s getting more time to spend with your family. Maybe you’re finally cleaning out your garage. Whatever the accomplishment, take pride in it. Losing a job is easier to accept if you can find the lesson in your loss. If you look, you’re sure to find something of value.
  • Don’t ignore your health – Your job search shouldn’t consume you. Make time for regular exercise, get plenty of sleep and practice relaxation techniques such as deep breathing, meditation and yoga. Your search will be more effective if you are mentally, emotionally and physically fit.
  • Journal – Are you angry? Sad? Frustrated? Express everything you feel about being unemployed. Writing down your feelings can be especially cathartic if your job loss was handled in an insensitive way.
  • Get out of the house – Whether it’s meeting an industry contact for coffee or going to the gym, it’s important to stay socially connected during your job search. Many job openings are never advertised; they’re filled by word of mouth. You never know who you’ll meet who might be hiring in the future.
Elizabeth Isenhour

Elizabeth Isenhour

How do you stay upbeat during a job search?

Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act To Be Signed Into Law

July 14, 2014

Got a case of the Mondays? Here’s a piece of good news for workers to jump start your week.

caphillLast week the U.S. Senate passed the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA), a bill that modernizes and improves existing federal workforce development programs through 2020, helping American workers attain skills for 21st century jobs. The bill cleared the House of Representatives in June and will now go to President Obama for his signature.

The WIOA provides access to training, education and workforce services that all of America’s workers, regardless of ability, need to compete in a global economy. Now more than ever, effective education and workforce development opportunities are critical to building a stronger middle class.

The passage of the bill will create:

  • A streamlined workforce development system by reducing bureaucracy;
  • Greater value by supporting access to on-the-job, incumbent worker and customized training;
  • Better coordination by strengthening ties between the state’s regional workforce development councils and employers, and;
  • Improved outreach to disconnected youth by bolstering high school dropout recovery efforts and improve college access.

Goodwill empowers people in our region to reach their full potential through family-sustaining employment. Last year, Goodwill Industries of the Southern Piedmont helped nearly 15,000 individuals find work that provided stable income, career advancement opportunities and resources to support the needs of a family. Our services include training classes, job resource centers and on-the-job training programs—each of which is designed to give participants the skills and training needed to find and keep a job.

Like Goodwill, the WIOA will help workers (including individuals with disabilities) access employment, education and support services to gain critical skills that today’s employers are seeking.

Elizabeth Isenhour

Elizabeth Isenhour

What changes would you enact to increase workforce opportunities in your community?

The GRID: Not Your Average Tech Store

July 4, 2014

Summer is a prime time for scooping up terrific savings on back-to-school necessities, and deals are sizzling this season at our new store The GRID: Powered by Goodwill. We carry just about anything you can imagine that relates to computers and technology—at Goodwill prices!

Most technology buyers tend to overspend in traditional retail stores. At The GRID: Powered by Goodwill, you can select from a range of Internet-ready computer systems or purchase those hard-to-find individual components—all at discounted prices that reflect a 15%-65% savings from retail markups.Whether you choose to tinker with a Raspberry Pi, upgrade your television or discover virtual reality through the groundbreaking Oculus Rift technology, The GRID has it all for you to experience.

Learn what tech-savvy shoppers are saying about our new store located in University City:

Elizabeth Isenhour

Elizabeth Isenhour

Have you stopped by The GRID yet? Tell us what you think in the comments.

Goodwill Construction Students Donate N.C. SAFE Box

July 1, 2014

Participants in Goodwill’s Construction Skills Training program recently partnered with a local middle school student to help children during times of crisis. Using materials provided by Central Piedmont Community College (CPCC), the class constructed a donation box to collect items for the organization N.C. Stuffed Animals For Emergencies (SAFE). The donation box was presented at the Matthews Free Medical Clinic during a special dedication ceremony on June 26.

The project was first introduced to the class by Ashton Gerlach, a seventh grade student at Providence Day School. Ashton asked Goodwill to construct a donation box for the N.C. SAFE chapter that she was beginning in Charlotte. N.C. SAFE collects new and gently-used stuffed animals, toys, books and blankets, and redistributes them to emergency organizations that help children undergoing traumatic life events.

“This partnership demonstrated how a little good can go a long way,” said Brian Otto, General Manager of Goodwill Construction Services. “The work these students completed not only sharpened their construction skills, but it also helped them find a meaningful way to give back to the community.”

Goodwill’s Construction Skills Training program is a seven-week class taught in partnership with CPCC that arms individuals with basic knowledge and skills needed to obtain a position in the construction industry. In addition to receiving training in construction math, blueprint reading, and the use of power and hand tools, students also gain important skills in résumé development, interviewing, work ethics and effective communication methods. Upon completing the program, students receive a 10-hour OSHA safety card and may also be awarded a forklift certification.



Elizabeth Isenhour

Elizabeth Isenhour

Ashton’s partnership with Goodwill was featured in an article appearing in the Matthews-Mint Hill Weekly. How do you give back to your community?

DIY: Men’s Shirt Refashion

June 26, 2014

Pop quiz: When is a men’s shirt not a shirt? Answer: When it’s a skirt, of course! From dressy button-downs to oversized tees, Goodwill is a treasure trove of men’s shirts in every color of the rainbow, which is exactly why these ubiquitous staples should not be overlooked by women. We’ve rounded up the best tutorials on the Internet for turning dress shirts into high fashion (no sewing machine required).


Transform a classic men’s dress shirt into a high-waisted pencil “shkirt” in less than five minutes using this tutorial from Mommy Chic. Style tip: When paired with a sleek black tank, this skirt will add an effortless pop of color to your summer wardrobe.

shirt to skirt

Shirt-to-Strapless Top

You can turn a men’s shirt into a strapless top via this illustrated tutorial from Brit + Co. First, button up the shirt without the sleeves on. Take the sleeves and twist them, then criss-cross them around your back. Bring them back to the front, tie a little knot and you’re done! It’s perfect for a modern cowgirl look.

shirt to top


This tutorial illustrates how to transform a dress shirt into a form-fitting minidress perfect for a beach cover-up or a night on the town. For a more demure look, try pairing it with some skinny jeans and heels. You can also refashion an oversized tee to achieve a similar look.

shirt to dress

Elizabeth Isenhour

Elizabeth Isenhour

How do you upcycle thrifted clothes?


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