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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?

Prepare for a Job Interview: Helpful Tips

August 12, 2014

interviewDoes the idea of a job interview make your palms sweat? Human resources consultant Harry Tatum has worked with hundreds of prospective job seekers during his career. His interview tips reveal how you can make the best impression.

  1. Be early, at least 15 minutes. Running late not only suggests poor time management skills, but also shows a lack of respect for your interviewer.
  2. Dress for the interview. Interviewers will take a well-dressed candidate more seriously, says Harry. Job seekers should dress in “business casual” clothes at minimum. Although appropriate interview attire varies from industry to industry, Harry recommends that men should wear a tie and women should wear a skirt or slacks. “Always try to be a bit more dressed up than what is required,” he counsels. Either way, do your homework. Call or visit to find out what the office dress code is.
  3. Learn and use the receptionist’s name and be friendly with him or her. Introduce yourself to the receptionist and give your name. Front desk staff may tell the interviewer if you behaved rudely.
  4. Use firm handshake and make eye contact. First impressions begin the moment you walk in the door, so be ready. Even something as simple as negative body language can weaken your chances for a call-back, so make sure you aren’t hurting yourself without knowing it.
  5. Treat interview as a business meeting with both applicant and interviewer having an important role. Your job is to show the connection between what you have achieved and what is really needed to succeed in the specific job and context. Hiring managers are expected to select candidates who possess strong skills and experience, while also making a great fit for the company.
  6. Ask important questions such as “What are the strengths of the company?”, “What are you looking for in employees?” and “What makes employees successful here”? This is your chance to not only make a good impression, but learn a bit more about the job you’re applying for. Nothing impresses a recruiter more than a really good question that not only shows you’ve researched the company in general, but also the specific job you’re hoping to land in particular.
  7. Listen to each question carefully and answer briefly and concisely. Interviewees rambling on is one of the most common interview blunders that Harry sees.
  8. Don’t ask about hours, shifts, pay or benefits. That will come later. Company benefits and salary negotiations don’t usually come into play until an offer has been extended. The same principle applies to sick time and vacation days. Avoid any question that sounds like you assume you already have the position–unless your interviewer brings it up first.
  9. At the end ask “What’s the next step?” Asking about the employer’s timeline for hiring and next steps in the decision-making process will give you a clearer understanding of what to expect should you advance to the next stage.
  10. Ask each person who interviews you for their business card. Exchange yours if you have one.
  11. Write and mail (don’t email) a thank you note when you get home. Harry recommends mailing a handwritten letter because it requires the hiring authority to at least open it and probably read it. Although writing a thank you note is more trouble than sending an email, you benefit by having your name put back in the mix a second time. “Having said that, it is far better to email a thank you note than do nothing at all,” says Harry.

Harry Tatum is a volunteer with Goodwill and provides job search and resume development assistance. Need job search advice? Email Harry at to have your question addressed in a future blog post.

During Back-to-School Season, Help Others Get Back to Work

August 7, 2014

bts shoppingAfter all the excitement of summer, back-to-school shopping be stressful for parents — and it’s easy to see why. Every August, Americans spend more than $8.5 billion at family clothing stores, and that doesn’t even include books, school supplies, and all the rest of the season’s shopping needs.

This year, Goodwill is asking families to join with us in committing to making sure that some of those back-to-school billions go toward putting people back to work right here in the Charlotte metro area. As you know, there are many people in our community facing chronic and long-term unemployment. At Goodwill, we take the value of donated clothing and household goods and turn them into job training and placement services for individuals and families in need. Every time you shop at Goodwill, you’re helping fund job training and placement programs for people in our community. On August 8-10, get 20% off when you spend $20 or more at all Goodwill Industries of the Southern Piedmont locations except The GRID and the Freedom Drive Outlet (discounts on donated goods only).

Goodwill programs have helped put millions of people back to work, allowing them to earn economic self-sufficiency for themselves and their families. People like Curtis, who was unemployed for a year and a half until he enrolled in Goodwill’s Hospitality & Tourism training program and ultimately embarked on a successful career in the hotel industry.

By committing to spending even a small part of your back-to-school shopping budget at Goodwill, you can ensure your hard-earned dollars are going to a good place and making a difference not far from home. What’s more, every parent knows that shopping secondhand helps keep the overall family budget down, so you’ll be helping yourself out while helping others too — not to mention helping the environment by diverting used goods from landfills, which is something you can get your kids excited about as well.

Of course, we all know it’s easier said then done to get your teenagers away from the mall, or to convince them that they don’t need every brand new back-to-school item that they swear every other kid at school is certainly going to have this year. Fortunately, even when you do buy new clothes and school supplies, you can still commit to helping put people back to work, by donating the items you no longer need.

Here is a good rule of thumb: for every new back-to-school item your child simply must have, they can commit to donating two items to Goodwill. Want those new, must-have fall jeans? Two clothing items from last year need to go to Goodwill in exchange. Buying a new computer or other electronic item for high school? Bring your use laptops, DVDs or video games to the donation center. To make the whole process fun, kids can track exactly how much of an impact their donations will via the Donate Movement calculator.

Don’t forget to check out our new store The GRID: Powered by Goodwill for great deals on gadgets on your technology and electronics list!

Elizabeth Isenhour

Elizabeth Isenhour

What are you donating this back-to-school season? And what great back-to-school shopping deals have you found at Goodwill? Let us know about both in the comments below, or shout back on social media via Facebook or Twitter.


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