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Success Story: Cassandra

July 27, 2015

IMG_6176 CROPPEDCassandra first came to Goodwill in 2011, homeless and with two young children, in need of a job.

“I moved to Charlotte from Baltimore, M.D. with my children. I didn’t have a real plan. And let me tell you, that’s scary, particularly for a parent,” said Cassandra. “After trying to make a better life for myself on my own, I realized I needed some help, and this was when I learned of Goodwill.”

She quickly enrolled in the banking and customer service occupational skills training course through the Goodwill Job Connection on Freedom Drive. She attended the class for two weeks before determining she needed immediate employment.

“It was tough for me to admit I needed help,” said Cassandra. “I have learned from Goodwill that asking for help doesn’t make you weak. Asking for help makes you human.”

Cassandra’s career counselor at Goodwill referred her to GoodWork Staffing, where she was placed in several temporary positions, including the Mecklenburg County Department of Child Support Enforcement and the Mecklenburg County Department of Social Services in the Community Resources division.

IMG_6671 CROPPEDAlthough she made quite the impression, there were no long-term opportunities available, and Cassandra returned to GoodWork Staffing. In July 2013, she was placed on a temp-to-hire assignment with the Mecklenburg County Health Department as a patient administrative assistant.

“I not only received employment training, but I was quickly placed in a job where I felt valued, appreciated and able to support my family,” said Cassandra. “And even when one assignment ended, I was quickly placed on a job where I was able to execute the professional skills I received in a productive way.”

Three months later in October 2013, Cassandra was hired as a full-time, permanent Mecklenburg County employee with all the benefits afforded to such staff, where she continues to thrive today.

“I sustained connections and all along the journey, I continued to share how Goodwill not only helped make me a better person, but how it could do the same for others,” said Cassandra.

Cassandra was recently awarded one of three GoodWork! Awards at Goodwill’s annual Cornerstone Celebration on Thursday, May 21, 2015. During her acceptance speech, the audience of nearly 700 was moved by Cassandra’s poise and gratitude.

“I stand in front of you today, a humble, yet incredibly enthusiastic working mother, at a job where I give value to those I assist daily,” Cassandra remarked. “I am a changed woman and the future I see in my career is a miracle. I am not only a confident individual, but I am a confident mother, showing my children what it means to never give up and that failure is not an option.”

Watch Cassandra’s journey to family sustaining employment below.

Build Your Own Garden Hose Hanger

July 20, 2015

Garden Hose Hanger 10By Kilby Watson, Community Engagement Manager at Goodwill Industries of the Southern Piedmont

We enjoy spending time outside in the summer, and it can be annoying to walk outside to a patio with great furniture and look over to see your hose laying in a clumped mess on the ground. At my house, our future plan is to enclose the patio space with a screened in porch – which means we would be moving the outside spigot. Therefore, I don’t want to purchase a hose hanger that adheres to the wall, where I would need to drill holes into the wall and eventually have to move the hose. Instead, I looked at some scrap wood in the garage and devised a plan for my garden hose.

First, I needed to create something that could stand on its own. I selected two pieces of wood that could do just the trick. The base is a 2 x 8 board and the top is a 1 x 8 board. I simply used some wood glue and drilled two holes on the bottom of the base. Then, I secured the two boards with two screws to ensure they wouldn’t come apart over time.

Garden Hose Hanger 1

Then I needed something to hang the hose. However, I really wanted something that was decorative too so that if the hose was being used, it wouldn’t look like it was missing something. I didn’t want to just use a hook or nail. Looking around my garage again, I saw an old hanging basket. I hadn’t used it for 4-5 years, so it was just collecting dust and wasting space. I love that this basket could be a great find at Goodwill and can easily be repurposed. Now, how to attach it…

My awesome neighbor had just the tools I needed. With his help, a hole was cut.

Garden Hose Hanger 2

Then he cut the hanging chains and with his T bracket and my straight bracket, we attached the basket.

Garden Hose Hanger 3

Next step: prep and paint. First, I sanded the wood and basket to prepare it for painting. Then with the hose, I rinsed off the dust and let it dry.

I knew outdoor paint was needed, so it was off to Lowe’s for the colors. Because of the shape of the basket, I decided a flower would make a great piece!

Here’s are the options I selected for the painting portion of this project.

Garden Hose Hanger 4

Garden Hose Hanger 5

Next, I put down a drop cloth, tape and newspaper to cover what I didn’t want to get certain colors of paint on.

Garden Hose Hanger 6

Once the background paint dried, I painted the rest. But, wow – the leaves were awful!

Garden Hose Hanger 8

What I love about paint is that it doesn’t have to be permanent. I used the drop cloth and newspaper to cover what I didn’t want to paint and started again. The results were excellent! I’m no artist, but I am very happy with the final product! Below is the garden hose hanger without the hose.

Garden Hose Hanger 9

Total time spent to complete this project was roughly two days, due to time to let the paint dry. I’m very glad I took a little extra time to remake the leaves. Hopefully this inspires you to find a new purpose for the unused things hanging around your garage!

Leaving a Legacy on Nelson Mandela Day

July 17, 2015
Mandela Day Logo

Source: Nelson Mandela Foundation

On July 18th every year, Nelson Mandela International Day is celebrated across the world in honor of the legendary late activist’s birthday and legacy. The day was officially declared by the United Nations as a global movement to honor his life’s work and act to change the world for the better.

Nelson Mandela devoted 67 years of his life to the struggle for human rights and social justice. As we celebrate our 50th Anniversary this year in the Southern Piedmont region of North and South Carolina, we are reminded of the importance of leaving a lasting legacy through our mission of “Changing lives through the power of work.”

In the past 50 years, Goodwill Industries of the Southern Piedmont has delivered services to more than 170,000 individuals in our community living in poverty and facing employment barriers such as lack of education or work experience, criminal backgrounds, welfare dependency and more. Since 1965, our organization has provided paid training and employment for thousands of clients and team members totaling payouts of over $385 million in wages and benefits, and Goodwill’s economic impact in the Southern Piedmont region is nearly $4 billion. Upon the completion of the new Goodwill Opportunity Campus next year, we will be able to offer even more assistance with expanded services and the collaboration of many community partners to help those who need our programs the most.

In addition to ensuring a lasting legacy in our community, Goodwill Industries International operates 165 agencies in the United States and Canada, and has a presence in 14 additional countries worldwide. Goodwill states, “Through our work with partners and individuals dedicated to addressing poverty and unemployment for people with disabilities and other challenges to finding jobs, we’re committed to advancing our proven model on a global scale.”

According to the Nelson Mandela Foundation, “Positive change for the better was the gift left to all of us by Nelson Mandela – it’s a living legacy and now it’s your turn. In the spirit of Madiba and his vision to spread social justice and freedom for all, this is your chance to become a part of a continuous global movement for good. Let us all emulate the servant leader we loved by all becoming servant leaders ourselves.”

Join us this Saturday, July 18th to honor Nelson Mandela’s work by committing to community service in our area. Find a mission that inspires you and reach out to help out. Consider serving at Crisis Assistance Ministry, checking in and scheduling patients at Charlotte Community Health Clinic, stocking the store at Classroom Central, or building a home with Habitat for Humanity. By donating goods and recycling electronics you no longer need to Goodwill, or shopping in one of our 22 retail stores, you help keep our planet clean and fund job training and employment services for people right here in our region. Leave your own legacy by directly playing a role in the fight to end poverty amongst our neighbors.

To learn more about Goodwill Industries of the Southern Piedmont and our programs and services, visit www.goodwillsp.org.

For more information about Nelson Mandela International Day, visit www.mandeladay.com.

For a comprehensive list of volunteer opportunities in the region, visit Hands on Charlotte’s Volunteer Opportunity Calendar.

Success Story: Angela

July 15, 2015

DSC_0087 EDITED CROPPEDAngela came to Goodwill Industries of the Southern Piedmont at a time in her life when she didn’t know where she was going to sleep each night. Angela was transitioning out of a local homeless shelter and needed help finding a job quickly so that she could secure permanent housing.

When Charlene Hendricks, Manager of DSS Initiatives at Goodwill, met Angela for the first time, she saw the abundance of potential in Angela and knew she could help. That’s when Charlene connected Angela with Mike Foster, Transitional Jobs Supervisor at Goodwill. Angela worked with Mike to secure immediate employment at the Goodwill Outlet retail store on Freedom Drive in Charlotte, where she proved to be a top performer.

Angela used this time as a transitional worker at the Goodwill Outlet to learn the role, build relationships with other team members, and gain an understanding of the Goodwill organization and mission.

As a result of her hard work and dedication, Angela was promoted to a permanent, full-time hanger position at the Sardis Road retail store, with the encouragement and support of her Goodwill Outlet teammates and managers.

“The Sardis Road retail store is full of friendly people that want the best for everyone,” said Angela about her Goodwill family.

Working in the Goodwill Outlet retail store transitional job, and now at the Sardis Road retail store, allowed Angela to secure permanent housing. Today, Angela is excited to go to work each day and can rest easy knowing she has a place to sleep and call home each night.

Angela’s advice for others seeking help from Goodwill is, “Keep moving forward. Stay focused and maintain a positive attitude. The Goodwill team members are excellent people and really help others get back on the right path.”

DIY Solutions for Bride on a Budget – Part 1

July 13, 2015

It’s wedding season and planning a wedding isn’t what it used to be. These days, no one will frown upon a wedding that is clearly DIY. In fact, it’s trendier now to apply a Pinterest tip or two to the occasion than to hire someone to do it all. The best part about the DIY deal? It’s super affordable!

If you’re a bride on a budget, DIY is music to your ears. While it’s a good idea to do things like carefully review and amend your guest list (here are some tips for that) and cut back on unnecessary add-ons (like switch out the sit-down dinner for a buffet), taking on aspects of the decor yourself can also be a huge money saver.

If you’re still hunting for inspiration after combing through the pages of Pinterest, perhaps you’ll love the idea of using thrifted tea cups and frames to add some unparalleled charm to your wedding day. Here are three bride-on-a-budget ideas that begin at Goodwill!

Free-Hanging Photo Frames

Solutions for Bride on a Budget - Part 1 (1)

Credit: Patrick Malone

Whether it’s an indoor or outdoor wedding, hanging photo frames from trees or the ceiling is a whimsical way to decorate for the reception. There are no rules here, so remember when you’re looking for frames that they don’t have to match—at all. In fact, the more mismatched, the better. Leave them glassless and totally empty, or fill the frames with memories your guests will love to gawk at.

While placing pictures of the happy couple would be a hit—think from childhood to relationship, vacations together, milestones, and so forth—it’s also a fun idea to use vintage family wedding photos to add an air of nostalgic charm to the day.

In this example, I used memorabilia from my parents’ wedding: I framed their wedding napkins, a vintage photo of the car they drove away in, newspaper clippings (both the engagement and wedding announcements complete with photos of my mom), and a pretty color photo of my parents cutting the cake.

I found a box of 10 totally different frames for $5—don’t you love to brag about your Goodwill steals? I painted the largest blue to match the photo inside, or more specifically, the dress my mother wore after the ceremony. To hang, I simply used some cheap but nice-looking twine.

I love the idea of displaying this wonderful love story that is so meaningful. Don’t forget to include the groom’s family photos, too!

Hanging Tea Cups

Solutions for Bride on a Budget - Part 1 (2)

Credit: Patrick Malone

If you like the idea of having a vintage theme, be on the lookout for some antique tea cups, because the creative tea cup fun knows no bounds. And as with the hanging frames, the more mismatched, the better.

A bit simpler than the frames and just as enchanting is the idea of hanging vintage tea cups from trees or ceilings. As you can see, the mismatched hanging tea cups create an adorable way to decorate for weddings, but you can apply it to other occasions, like a birthday party.

Tea and Coffee Station

While you’re on the tea theme, why not use vintage tea cups for your reception’s tea and coffee service? Use for darling and dainty table settings, or simply place the cups and saucers in a pretty little pile for a DIY coffee-and-tea station.

Stay tuned for Part 2 of this series. What thrifted items will you incorporate into your wedding decor?

Kelly Rae Smith is a crafts and DIY expert who writes for Shutterfly. Kelly has money-saving DIY solutions for many purposes, including wedding planning. To see more wedding planning ideas, you can visit Shutterfly.com.

Success Story: Nadia

July 8, 2015

DSC_0080 EDITEDWhen Nadia came to the Goodwill Job Connection in Gastonia, N.C. in August 2013, she was in desperate need of permanent employment. She had moved from New York as a single mother with her three children, but lacked a high school diploma or GED, which made finding a stable job challenging. Nadia had heard about the Job Connection in town and knew it was somewhere that could help her get back on track.

“I was at a low point in my life in between jobs and needed something stable to provide for myself and my children,” said Nadia.

Nadia registered at the Job Connection, where Goodwill staff quickly referred her to a GED class beginning in October offered through the Gaston County Literacy Program. She signed up the very same day.

“I knew getting my GED was where I needed to start and pick back up where I left off with my education,” said Nadia.

After attending class every day and improving her outlook on her situation, Nadia proudly received her GED two months later in December 2013. Following the accomplishment, Nadia continued to visit the Job Connection in search of employment. However, she knew she wanted to further her education and pursue her dreams in the medical field. With the continued support of Goodwill staff, Nadia enrolled in Kaplan College in Charlotte while working as a personal care aide at night.

IMG_6699Despite many hard days of school and work, Nadia graduated in December 2014 with a Registered Medical Assistant diploma from Kaplan College. One month later while applying for a cashier position at her local Walmart Neighborhood Market, Nadia stopped the pharmacist walking by to ask for help with her job application. Staff pharmacist Toiya was surprised when she saw Nadia’s credentials and portfolio. After speaking with Nadia, Toiya knew she wanted Nadia as a member of her pharmacy team. That same month, Nadia obtained full-time employment as a pharmacy technician at the store and in March 2015, she was named the Customer Service Champion of the Month.

Nadia was recently awarded one of three GoodWork! Awards at Goodwill’s annual Cornerstone Celebration on May 21, 2015. While accepting her award on stage, Nadia told the audience, “If there was a thought that I could leave with you all, it would be that it is never too late to pursue your dreams…never give up on yourself.”

Watch Nadia’s journey here:

DIY Pendant Lights from Unexpected Items

July 1, 2015

Lighting is an important part of any design plan, yet most people leave it for last when planning a remodel. To ensure your lighting doesn’t look like an afterthought, consider the three basic lighting categories:

  • General light illuminates the room and provides ambient lighting in a space, like ceiling fixtures in a bedroom or kitchen.
  • Task lighting provides light for a specific purpose, such as reading.
  • Accent or Mood lighting might focus on artwork or light up a dark corner in a room.

In my design plans, I also include a fourth category: Fun lighting. Every room needs something unexpected and original, and that’s easy to achieve when picking out lighting fixtures and lamps.

My DIY pendant lights fall into this category. Not only can you make them yourself, but they’re so unexpected, all your guests will be wowed.

If you already have a pendant light but don’t love the shade, look around your home for creative replacements. If you don’t already have a pendant light, have an electrician install a mini chandelier or pendant, and choose to show off your personality with an unusual shade.

Idea 1: Bedspring Pendant Light

1 Bedspring Pendant Light

For this project, you will need:

  • Bed spring – I happened to have an antique bedspring from my grandma’s house that I cut apart, but you never know what you may find at Goodwill.
  • Vintage “Edison” style light bulb – Tubular radio shape bulb; 40W, and be sure to get a dimmable bulb—all chandelier light bulbs should be dimmable.

2 Vintage Bedspring

The bedspring shade would be great as a reading light in the bedroom or to light up the powder room.

Idea 2: Cheese Grater Pendant Light

3 Cheese Grater

In the kitchen, try something really different and look no farther than your cupboard. Cheese graters have lots of holes for the light to shine through.

4 Cheese Grater Pendant Light

Simply loop the cord over the handle—no tools necessary.

Idea 3: Vase Pendant Light

5 Beaded Vase

I love to browse resale and antique stores such as Goodwill for ideas and inspiration. Look for items with open spaces that allow light to shine through. This beaded vase is a great example. I removed the insert and threaded the wire through the beads on the bottom.

6 Beaded Vase Pendant Light

It’s a little Bohemian and works in an open stairwell.

What items do you have lying around that could be repurposed as a clever DIY pendant light?

Merri Cvetan is an interior designer and DIY crafter who writes about her DIY projects, including indoor lighting, for The Home Depot. Merri’s career in design began after she purchased her 1890s fixer-upper farm house in Wisconsin. A complete selection of pendant lights is also available at homedepot.com.

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