For someone moving to the United States for a chance at a better life, navigating the process of finding a job can be difficult and intimidating. Obstacles to finding employment can include language barriers, limited resources and lack of skills and experience needed to find suitable employment.
When Adeline moved to the U.S. from West Africa in 2004 for an opportunity to pursue the American Dream, she found herself in this exact situation. She did not speak a word of English, had never been employed, had never used a computer, and did not know anyone.
In her first few years in the U.S., Adeline gave birth to two children. Financially unstable and with no family nearby, she made the difficult decision to move her two young sons back to West Africa to live with her mother while she stayed in the U.S. to try to make a life for herself. Though this decision was the most difficult one Adeline ever had to make, it proved to be her driving force.
“Leaving my kids and wanting to give them a better life was my motivation,” she said. “It made my fears seem so small.”
In 2008, a friend told Adeline about Goodwill. She came to Goodwill’s Career Development Center on Freedom Drive and enrolled in the hospitality & tourism occupational skills training course. During the seven-week course, Adeline gained an understanding of the hospitality and tourism industry, learned basic computer skills, built her resume, learned valuable job-search skills, and gained confidence through interview preparation.
Towards the end of the skills training program, Adeline and her classmates attended a job fair at a nearby hotel. From that job fair, Adeline was hired to work at the Renaissance Charlotte SouthPark Hotel. In fact, she was unable to attend her graduation ceremony because it was her first day at her new job.
Seven years later, Adeline is still employed with the Renaissance Charlotte SouthPark Hotel. She has worked her way up from bussing tables to being a full-time server, lead trainer and bartender for the hotel’s restaurant and banquet halls. Since being hired, Adeline has learned how to establish credit, bought a car, bought her own house, and in 2011, she moved her two sons and her mother back to the U.S. to live with her.
Adeline is proud of her accomplishments and grateful to Goodwill for giving her the opportunity for a better life.
“I do not even have the words to describe what I feel inside,” Adeline said. “Goodwill was a great help and the stepping stone I needed to get a good job and still be doing what I’m doing today. I’m very grateful, to Goodwill and to God.”
Adeline’s advice for anyone facing a difficult situation?
“It’s okay when things get hard and you don’t know what to do. You just have to be courageous and look at the positives that can come from everything. You can do anything – it’s going to take some work, a lot of work, but you just have to be courageous and look at the positives.”
Want to hear more about Adeline’s courageous, emotional journey to family sustaining employment? Watch her recent success story with NBC Charlotte’s Sonja Gantt as part of the annual “Make a Difference Day” here.
Guest post by Dee Fleury – @ReNewedByDeezign on Instagram.
After meeting the very sweet daughter of one of my co-workers, I automatically thought to myself, “She’s such a sweet girl, I must make her something.” That’s how it works for me, I like you…I make you something!
So off to Goodwill I went for inspiration. I had no idea what I wanted to make, but a good 15-20 minutes in the store is usually all it takes to run into a project waiting to happen.
I almost always go straight to the frames section because there’s never a shortage of good, quality frames with art people no longer care for. What they don’t realize is although the artwork itself may no longer be desirable, the oftentimes custom-made frame they’ve discarded is money going down the drain. Have you seen the price of custom framing?
I challenge you to take that next family portrait to a framing center and get a framing quote, then go to your local Goodwill and find a gorgeous frame in the size you need, ignore that 1970’s velvet picture inside, and locate the price. I guarantee you’ll run straight to the counter like I do and never pay for custom framing again!
But I digress…back to my shopping trip.
A quick glance led me to a discarded 24 in. x 36 in. framed canvas priced at just $4.99, which normally retails at $24.99 at other stores – a whopping $20.00 savings right there.
Immediately I knew I wanted to make a memo board for her, but the artwork painted on the canvas would not work. I’d now need some fabric, so off to the household linens section I went in Goodwill. I couldn’t believe my luck when I found exactly one yard of pink velour fabric hanging up with the table linens priced at just $4.99.
I’m on a roll now, so I check out the miscellaneous shelves that hold all kinds of treasures and sure enough, I came across some spools of ribbon and found a soft lavender color for $.99. So now I have my board, fabric and a ribbon for the memo board project and I’m sure I have plenty of options for embellishments in my craft stuff at home, so I check out and go home excited to get started.
Here’s How I Made It:
Lay your fabric out on a flat surface and place your canvas on top, making sure the fabric is distributed evenly around the frame on all sides.
Fold the fabric evenly over the top side of the frame.
Staple the fabric to top side of the frame using a staple gun.
Pull the fabric nice and tight, and staple the remaining sides, folding the fabric as you would gift wrapping at the corners.
Trim away any excess fabric with fabric shears or scissors you have that are sharp enough for cutting fabric, making sure the blades are clean first so as not to soil the fabric. Then smooth the fabric out. Now your board is ready for embellishments.
Next I added the ribbon. I cut four even strips of the lavender ribbon that I will lay in a crisscross pattern on my board. Before attaching them, I lay them out to make sure I have it placed exactly where I want it.
After you have the ribbon where you want it, wrap the ribbon around to the back of the frame and secure with a dot sized amount of hot glue.
You can now add your embellishments. I happen to have these gorgeous Christmas ornaments in my craft box that I got on sale at Target during their end-of-season clearance for $.70 each. Perfect for adding a little bling to my board, however you can use whatever you want to jazz up your board, just remember to think outside the box.
I still wanted a little more bling, so I added some rhinestones that were in a package I found on a separate trip to Goodwill (but you can also find them for $.99 at Walmart). Goodwill has tons of options for this. You can check out their jewelry counter for cheap bling to use such as a vintage broach. The options are endless if you use your imagination.
Here’s the finished product and the new board along with some other “ReNewed” and repurposed items she can use to accessorize her teen bedroom makeover.
Tip: Jewelry boxes are almost always on the shelves at Goodwill, so make sure you look for them on your next trip and give it a makeover if you prefer a different finish.
So get out there and spend some time in your local Goodwill store for some inspiration for your next inexpensive DIY project that even teens will love.
Dee Fleury is a Philadelphia native now living in the South and enjoying the inner “country girl” that was always there. She loves to hunt for treasures old and new, and incorporate her thrifted finds into her home décor. She blends a little bit of French country, farmhouse, vintage, glam and contemporary, all mingled nicely together. Dee is an aspiring small business owner with dreams of owning her own shop offering painted furniture and home décor featuring some of her found treasures.
In early 2014, Bridget made the difficult decision to leave her job with the federal government in Fayetteville, N.C., to take care of her sick mother in Philadelphia, Pa. Upon her return to Charlotte, N.C., a few months later, re-entering the workforce proved to be a challenge.
Prior to her job with the federal government, Bridget worked for the Department of Employment Security Commission for 17 years. Here, she heard much about Goodwill and learned about its services and offerings. In late 2014, a longtime friend who had collaborated with Goodwill on several community projects recommended to Bridget that she visit Goodwill for help in re-entering the workforce.
Bridget took her friend’s advice and came to Goodwill’s Career Development Center in Charlotte. She met with Marie, Evaluation and Assessment Specialist, who conducted a personal interview with Bridget to better understand her needs. She then encouraged her to look at Goodwill’s internal job vacancies on the computer and apply to an open Internal Audit Services Manager position at Goodwill. Bridget applied for the position that day and was called in for an interview soon after. A few weeks later, Bridget was hired for the position.
Bridget served active duty in the Army from 1989 – 1994 and has been in the Army Reserves ever since. The day after Bridget accepted her job offer at Goodwill, she was called to serve her country overseas in Kuwait. This was Bridget’s first time being deployed overseas, and Shannon, Director of Corporate Compliance and Bridget’s supervisor at Goodwill, ensured Bridget that her job would be waiting for her upon her return.
Bridget served in Kuwait for 10 months as an Internal Control Officer with the 469th Theater Financial Management Support Center. Throughout Bridget’s deployment, Shannon sent her care packages that included books, magazines, holiday treats and even Goodwill promotional items to keep her spirits up. Bridget was thankful for the support that her Goodwill family showed her despite her being overseas.
“Shannon made me feel really good,” Bridget says. “Even though I wasn’t working for Goodwill yet, she wanted to check in with me. That meant a lot.”
Today, Bridget is back from serving overseas and working at Goodwill. She is thankful for the opportunity that Goodwill gave her when re-entering the workforce after taking care of her mother, and just as grateful that Goodwill supported her overseas deployment before assuming her current position.
“Everyone from my fellow veterans to my family and friends were amazed that Goodwill held my position for me for almost an entire year while I served,” Bridget says. “As a veteran, it’s a good feeling to know that my employer is behind me supporting my military duty and helping me re-enter the workforce. I feel happy, relaxed and refreshed to be here.”
Guest post by Monique Stubbs-Hall, volunteer and guest speaker in the Hospitality & Tourism Occupational Skills Training Course at Goodwill Industries of the Southern Piedmont.
The adage “first impressions are lasting impressions” is no understatement. I prefer to use the expression “interaction” instead of “impression.” Why? Well how we are perceived requires more than someone just looking at us. If we desire to be memorable, your interaction is what will be remembered. Here are four simple ways to make sure that you are not forgotten.
CHECK THE MIRROR BEFORE YOU MEET
There is nothing worse than making arrangements to attend a networking or an interview and not feel as though your appearance is on point from head to toe. Of course basics such as brushing your teeth, grooming your hair, making sure your clothes are not soiled or stained and ensuring that your business cards are accessible are all important matters. However, gentlemen, are your shoes shined? Is your necktie tied properly? Is your suit pressed out and not wrinkled? Are your shirt collar and suit collar laid down in the back appropriately?
Ladies, are the tips on your heels making noises when you walk, letting you know they need replacing? Do your stockings have runs in them? Are your fingernails and toenails (if they will be seen) polished? Is your handbag closed so that it looks neat in appearance? Taking pride in your appearance is where having successful interactions begin.
WATCH YOUR WALK
Pay attention to how you walk towards your contact. Add some “pep in your step”! This is a quick way to show that you have energy. If you walk as if you are dragging, you give the impression that you are potentially lazy or uninterested. Since a person’s perception is their reality, in the first few seconds you approach their mind may say “If he drags to approach me, he will probably drag to get work done.” So pay attention to how you walk.
SMILE, SMILE, SMILE!
A beautiful smile is the quickest way to capture someone’s attention. It is a universal signal that you are approachable. It is a quick way to break down an initial barrier before you even say a word. Smiling tells a prospective employer that you have the ability to possibly attract customers to his company as opposed to running them away. It tells your point of contact that you have a human side and are not a robot. No one wants to do business with or befriend someone who shows no personality. So don’t be afraid to show those pearly whites.
EXTEND THE CORRECT HANDSHAKE
There is nothing worse than an inappropriate handshake! Make sure you extend that right one. Here are a few that just don’t give the right impression.
- The Shake You To Death Handshake (Please DON’T) Shaking someone’s hand continuously is a way to scare them away…they will think something is wrong with you and all they want you to do is LET GO! You may not get to the point of a conversation.
- The Weak as Mush Handshake (Please DON’T) When someone shakes your hand and your hand just weakly falls into theirs as if you have no bones in your hand…it gives the impression that you lack confidence and that you are weak or may be a pushover personality type. This is definitely a turn-off for those looking for someone with leadership qualities to work for them.
- The Break All the Bones in My Hand Handshake (Please DON’T) Shaking someone’s hand so firmly that it actually hurts is not a good idea. This may give the contact the feeling that you are trying to intimidate them. They may also immediately feel as though you would be an overbearing personality type. If you actually hurt them with that handshake, you may not have the opportunity to further a discussion with them.
- The Firm and Quick Handshake (Please DO) This is the appropriate handshake that coupled with a smile works every time! Extend your hand, shake theirs two times firmly and then release. A simple remark such as “My name is ________________ and you are?” (let them respond) and then add “Well (repeat their first name), it’s a pleasure meeting you.”
In the few initial seconds that you have connected with your contact, you have interacted in such a way that they will remember your professionalism. You have now opened the door to the next step of interacting, which is beginning a meaningful conversation!
By Monique Stubbs-Hall, The Greatness Groomer. Visit www.MoniqueTalks.com to learn more about her public speaking, business consulting and coaching services.
On Saturday, October 24th, WCNC-TV (NBC Charlotte) hosted “Make a Difference Day” benefiting Goodwill Industries of the Southern Piedmont. The nationwide annual initiative by USA TODAY featured a donation drive for Goodwill that at the end of the day collected 3 full tractor trailers with 12,640 pounds of donations!
Goodwill team members and on-air talent from WCNC-TV collected donations on-site from 6 a.m. – 4 p.m., including host Larry Sprinkle, Sonja Gantt, Bill McGinty, Eugene Robinson, Brad Panovich, Fred Shropshire, Beth Troutman and more.
In addition to the donation drive, WCNC-TV surprised Goodwill with a $5,000 financial contribution to support our mission of changing lives through the power of work. Thank you to WCNC-TV and the 373 donors from the community who came out to give a second life to items they no longer need and support Goodwill.
Leading up to Make a Difference Day, WCNC-TV aired six inspiring success stories of Goodwill clients and team members. Watch each video below to see the hard work and dedication put forth by these individuals on their journeys to family sustaining employment.
- Shell graduated from the hospitality & tourism occupational skills training course at Goodwill and is a current Board of Directors member who recently launched Elegant Connexions, her own event space business in Concord. “Concord business owner thriving through power of work.”
- Rahmal came to Goodwill’s youth program and worked with one of our team members who remains a mentor to him today. Rahmal is now employed at Charlotte Metro Credit Union, a partner on the new Goodwill Opportunity Campus. “Young man finds career through Goodwill.”
Hyrum is the store manager at our Albemarle Road retail store. Hyrum began his career at Goodwill as a donation processor, was promoted to retail lead worker, then again promoted to assistant store manager and is now store manager with hard work and encouragement from his team members and supervisors. “Goodwill store manager worked up from the bottom.”
- Jason came to Goodwill with a criminal background and enrolled in the Second Chance Workshop, where he learned communication skills and how to navigate the difficult job search. He’s now employed with building and property maintenance company Oneliance and starting his own business as an independent contractor, where he helps other individuals with criminal backgrounds find meaningful job opportunities. “Goodwill continues to change lives one person at a time.”
Adeline moved to the United States from West Africa for a better life. She made the difficult decision to send her children back to West Africa to live with her mother while she sought employment and enrolled in Goodwill’s hospitality & tourism occupational skills training course. Through the course, she earned a job as a server at the Renaissance SouthPark Hotel, where she is now the lead trainer in the restaurant. She was able to move her children and her mother back to the United States, and has since bought a house and a car. “Local woman credits Goodwill’s hospitality program for success.”
- George earned his GED and HVAC certification while in prison to turn his life around, and upon release enrolled in Goodwill’s construction skills training program. After graduating from the program, Goodwill helped George find a job at Hope Haven, where he is now employed as an assistant maintenance manager. “Goodwill Industries’ construction program offers second chance.”
Thank you to WCNC-TV, Goodwill team members and community donors for making “Make a Difference Day” a huge success again this year. Purchases of these donations in Goodwill retail stores will help fund job training and employment services for individuals like Shell, Rahmal, Hyrum, Jason, Adeline and George to find jobs and earn a wage to support themselves and their families. Together, we can all make a difference!
Goodwill is a Halloween destination for one-of-a-kind costumes and we’re counting down to Halloween. If you’re still looking for the perfect Halloween costume, stop by your local Goodwill retail store for some inspiration. At Goodwill, shoppers can find fresh items every day, including clothing in a variety of shapes, sizes and colors, as well as accessories from different decades to transform an ordinary look into a fantastic, eclectic costume. With a little creativity, anyone can become a ghost, cowboy, zombie or superhero of choice simply by combining Goodwill finds into a unique costume.
The best way to save on often pricey Halloween costumes is to use your imagination. Goodwill offers unique, gently used items that can help you put together the perfect costume without breaking the bank. To help inspire trick-or-treaters this Halloween, we’ve listed a few of our favorite DIY costumes and how to assemble them below.
Back to the Future – Marty McFly
One Man Band
Terrifying ’80s Prom Queen
A DIY costume is what you make of it. You can create a look as intricate as a character on “The Walking Dead” or you can simplify your costume in a few easy steps.
When you purchase items at Goodwill, you’ll save on your Halloween costumes and be able to use those clothes again once Halloween is over. You’ll also feel good knowing that your purchase will help provide job training and employment services free of charge to people looking for work here in the Southern Piedmont region of North and South Carolina.
What will you be this Halloween?
Fall is the perfect time for redecorating projects, especially if you have family planning to visit during the holiday season. One quick and easy fix is to replace draperies and curtains—a room can be transformed in a few hours!
As an interior designer, I often take inspiration from existing décor and create ways to embellish it. I love to change basic drapery panels into custom-designed curtains, creating a one-of-a-kind design with each project.
This room’s motif is a mixture of rustic and chic—part farmhouse and part ‘30s glam. The high-sheen black lacquer walls are an interesting contrast with the white wainscot paneling. A single horizontal slider window with two four-light sashes brings in natural light.
There are hundreds of curtain styles to choose from. Take into consideration the window shape and style, the décor of the room and the view. Because of the decorative trim around the window, an inside mount curtain is the best solution for this scenario.
I didn’t want to cover up the decorative white molding, and the window overlooks a screened-in porch, so privacy is a factor.
I found a white curtain panel with a burnout pattern of tree branches (burnout—or devoré—is a chemical process of creating a semi-transparent pattern).
The organic design of the tree pattern creates nice contrast with the vertical wainscot. In order for the pattern to be visible, the curtain needed to fit perfectly in the window. I didn’t want any gathers or sheering.
I cut the panel the same size as the inside measurement of the window and added 3 in. to the top and side measurements for hems, and to create top and bottom rod pockets.
The tree pattern solves the rustic element; the glam side called for additional embellishment. I found a pleated ribbon and a rhinestone trim—schoolgirl meets movie star!
I stitched the trim to the top and bottom at the hem line and installed the curtain with a pair of tension rods. They’re the perfect solution for inside mount drapes; no tools are required.
The semi-transparent design of the fabric allows enough light in, yet provides adequate privacy in the bathroom when there’s a party on the porch.
I love my drape makeover. What other redecorating projects are you taking on this fall?
Interior designer Merri Cvetan writes for Home Depot on design projects she does for clients, as well do-it-yourself undertakings she does for her own home. For window treatments available at Home Depot, you can visit the company’s website here.