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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.

Goodwill Announces Plans to Build New Campus to Aid Disadvantaged Job Seekers

August 5, 2014

Today, Goodwill announced it will change the trajectory of poverty for disadvantaged job seekers and their families in the Charlotte metro area by building the Goodwill Opportunity Campus, a state-of-the-art career services center that will provide the most comprehensive collection of resources and opportunities for job training, job placement and job creation under one roof. The announcement was shared with the public this morning during a Growing Opportunity Celebration at the future site of the new campus in west Charlotte.

Goodwill Opportunity Campus Rendering

Located on an 18-acre site along Wilkinson Boulevard, the Goodwill Opportunity Campus (GOC) will consolidate Goodwill’s operations from seven different properties into one central campus, resulting in increased operational and service capacity and added space for partner agencies to provide wraparound services to job seekers facing multiple barriers to employment. Construction will start in the beginning of 2015, with occupancy in the new building slated to occur in 2016.

With some of the highest poverty levels in recent years, cuts to unemployment benefits and the increasing need for our services, Goodwill is creating more effective ways to put people back to work. Close to 160,000 Mecklenburg residents live in poverty and more than 300,000 in our region live below the poverty line, according to a recent article in The Charlotte Observer. Overcoming impoverishment is especially daunting in Charlotte. A study by Harvard and the University of California at Berkeley showed that upward mobility for children living in poverty is more difficult in Charlotte than any of the country’s 50 largest cities.

“The Goodwill Opportunity Campus is a unique approach to address the issues of poverty and dependence in our community,” said Michael Elder, Goodwill President & CEO. “Through our work, we know that it takes more than providing disadvantaged job seekers with job skills and training. We also have to provide them with services to help overcome barriers they face that keep them in the cycle of unemployment and underemployment.”

Building the GOC will require an investment of $20 million. Goodwill has committed $12 million of its own funds and has embarked on a capital campaign to raise $8 million from the community—marking the first time the organization has turned to the public for capital support in nearly 30 years. Currently $4.5 million has been raised, which includes a $1.2 million challenge grant from the Leon Levine Foundation and a $500,000 investment from Bank of America, the largest corporate donor to date.

Goodwill is inviting the public to contribute the remaining dollars needed to achieve our campaign goal. For every donation made to support the Goodwill Opportunity Campus Capital Campaign, the Leon Levine Foundation will match your gift. Please help us continue to grow by donating today.

Elizabeth Isenhour

Elizabeth Isenhour

To learn more about how the Goodwill Opportunity Campus will impact the community, visit


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?


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