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Success Story: Nah

May 16, 2014

Goodwill Cornerstone_Good Work! Award_Nah DarkwaArmed with her MBA and impressive credentials, Nah spent two years searching and applying for jobs to no avail. As her situation began to appear hopeless, she prayed for help. That same day, she heard about Goodwill’s job training program and was soon attending the intensive Banking & Customer Service Training program. She says, “With my MBA, many people thought I was overqualified for the program, but I disagreed. I had plenty of knowledge and education, but I needed more practical skills for the banking industry.”

Nah interviewed with a renewed sense of confidence and soon landed a position as an Outreach Specialist at Carolinas HealthCare System that incorporated both her education and the practical work skills she learned through Goodwill. She’s a prime example of how more and more highly educated people are choosing Goodwill to sharpen their skills and better prepare for today’s workforce.

“Goodwill is a magical place,” says Nah. “Something happens to you here. You don’t go out the same. I will advise anyone to come taste it for yourself.”

For her career success, Nah was awarded a Good Work! Award at Goodwill’s 2014 Cornerstone Celebration.

Elizabeth Isenhour

Elizabeth Isenhour

Sizzling Summer Decor

May 13, 2014

Spring is the perfect season to create some of your own sizzling summer décor to match the rising temperatures outside. We’ve rounded up five charming DIY projects that can be assembled easily and on the cheap using materials from your local Goodwill store.

Rainbow Fans

Restore an old fan from Goodwill using this simple tutorial. These colorful fans create a fascinating pinwheel effect when turned on.


Mini Terrariums

This easy to make DIY project using Mason jars will transform your office cubicle, or your home workspace, into a green space instantly.


Party Tumblers

These Gold Foil Tumblers can be made with minimal effort using mismatched glasses from Goodwill.


Upcycled Scarf Apron

This DIY activity turns an ordinary shawl into chic cooking attire.


Succulent Teacup Planter

If you’re looking for a new twist on old teacups, then these cute DIY teacup planters are a great way to revamp these beautiful, yet often unused, items.


How are you decorating this summer?

Elizabeth Isenhour

Elizabeth Isenhour

Super Spring Sweep: Goodwill and Metrolina ReStores Partner for Donation Drive

May 8, 2014

2014HfH Donation SquareFINALSpring is the perfect time to get your house in order, and Goodwill Industries and Habitat Metrolina ReStores are here to help in a big, big way — think two states and five counties. On May 17, the public will have the opportunity to support both organizations by taking part in an unprecedented household goods and electronics joint donation drive at nine ReStores throughout the region.

From 9am-3:30pm on that Saturday, visitors will have the opportunity to donate their gently used items to two organizations at once: electronics (computers/computer equipment, printers/copiers/fax machines, games/gaming systems) to Goodwill and household items (decor, furniture, construction materials) to Habitat ReStores. Everyone can follow along on social media by using #donatecarolinas in posts on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Media personality Terri Bennett will be on hand at select ReStores to share tips and give away “Do Your Part: A Practical Guide to Every Day Green Living,” to the first 40 donors at each location.

ReStore locations participating in the drive include:

• Habitat for Humanity of Gaston County ReStore, 1840 E. Franklin Blvd., Gastonia

• Habitat for Humanity of York County ReStore, 825 N. Anderson Rd., Rock Hill

• Charlotte Habitat for Humanity ReStore, 1133 N Wendover Rd., Charlotte

• Our Towns Habitat for Humanity Restore, 20414 N. Main St., Cornelius

• Our Towns Habitat for Humanity Restore, 121 Norman Station Blvd., Mooresville

• Habitat for Humanity of Cabarrus County ReStore, 2902 S Cannon Blvd. Kannapolis

• Habitat for Humanity of Iredell County ReStore, 1382 Shelton Ave., Statesville

• Habitat for Humanity of Catawba County ReStore, 772 4th St. SW, Hickory

• Habitat for Humanity of Lincoln County ReStore, 809 E Sycamore St. Lincolnton

More than 246 million tons of material was dumped in 2005, much of it recyclable. By donating gently used furniture, electronics, appliances and fixtures to Goodwill Industries and Habitat ReStores, you become part of the solution to reducing fossil fuel consumption, reducing landfills in your backyard while helping others in local communities.

Goodwill Announces 2014 Cornerstone Award Winners

May 6, 2014
Darren Ash

Darren Ash

Goodwill will honor community advocates and celebrate client successes at the 2014 Cornerstone Celebration on May 16. The annual luncheon spotlights graduates of Goodwill’s job training and career development programs and honors individuals and corporations for their support of Goodwill and our efforts in Changing Lives Through the Power of Work! 

We are thrilled to announce the recipients of the 2014 Cornerstone Awards:

  • Jack Callaghan Cornerstone Award to Darren Ash, founder of Charlotte Family Housing (formerly WISH), an organization that empowers homeless families to achieve long-term self-sufficiency through shelter, housing, support services and advocacy. The Jack Callaghan Cornerstone Award is Goodwill’s highest honor and is given to a leader who has devoted their life to providing workforce development opportunities and services for people facing disabilities or disadvantages.
  • HELMS Volunteer of the Year Award to Christil McKenzie, VP, Project Manager at Bank of America Merrill Lynch. An active volunteer with Goodwill since 2010, Christil has empowered individuals who are seeking employment opportunities by providing Financial Literacy training to help them set achievable financial goals during their job search. The HELMS Award is named for Goodwill founder Edgar J. Helms and is given to a volunteer who exemplifies Helping Elevate Leadership and Meaningful Services.
  • Corporate Champion Award to Carolinas Healthcare System, which has provided long-term support of Goodwill’s mission through volunteerism, financial contributions, job placements, donations, and health and wellness education. The Corporate Champion Award is given to an organization that has demonstrated outstanding and multifaceted support of Goodwill’s mission.
  • Good Work! Award to Curtis Baker, a graduate of Goodwill’s Hospitality & Tourism Training program. Curtis is currently employed with the Hampton Inn in Pineville, NC. The Good Work! Awards are presented to individuals who have received or are currently receiving services and have overcome significant barriers, achieved and maintained employment, returned to serve their peers and more.
  • Good Work! Award to Nah Darkwa, a graduate of Goodwill’s Banking & Customer Service Training program. Nah is currently employed with Carolinas Healthcare System in Charlotte, NC.
  • Good Work! Award to Rashad Jones, a graduate of Goodwill’s Construction Skills Training program. Rashad is currently employed with Zemko Supply in Fort Mill, SC.
  • Good Work! Award to Prince Moses. Prince received services from Goodwill’s Job Connection in Concord and participated in the Operation Independence program for veterans. He is currently employed with the VA Medical Center in Salisbury, NC.

Join the conversation online by using the official event hashtags #Cornerstone2014 and #alittlegood on May 16.The presenting sponsors for this year’s 2014 Cornerstone Celebration are Bank of America and Wells Fargo. The event sponsors are Fifth Third Bank and NFP Corporate Benefits.  For more information, visit the event website.

Elizabeth Isenhour

Elizabeth Isenhour

Success Story: Kenneth

May 2, 2014

kennethKenneth came to Goodwill in 2011 through the Second Chance Program after serving 12 years in prison. From the beginning, he showed exceptional determination in his job search. He said that if an employer—any employer—gave him a chance, he promised to prove himself to be worthy by working hard and rebuilding his credibility.

After identifying his employment attributes and barriers, Kenneth began to work on transforming himself into a highly marketable job candidate. He enrolled in the transitional employment program to gain work experience and professional references, completed forklift training to give him documented skills training desirable to many employers, and obtained updated skill sets. He also connected with Goodwill’s community partner, Charlotte Area Fund, where he took advantage of workshops in financial literacy, interviewing and resume development.

Today Kenneth is employed with Keffer Mazda of Huntersville as their lead salesman, a promotion that he received after being recognized as one of the top five Mazda salesmen in this region. Although he has been with Mazda for only ten months, Kenneth has proved himself to be a key employee that works very hard to provide excellent customer service and outstanding outcomes for the Mazda dealership partners.

Kenneth is a shining example of how Goodwill changes lives. He came into our doors with only a small ray of hope that he may find a job. As we coached him to focus on his abilities, Kenneth was able to unlock his true potential and with time, support and encouragement, transformed himself into a confident, goal-oriented man working in a profession that he enjoys. Today he is also a proud father, a future husband, and a highly productive respected member of our community.

Verona Hendrix is a Career Development Specialist II at Goodwill.

Giving Thanks to Our Customers

April 18, 2014

Customer appreciation is an important part of the Goodwill culture that is evident in every interaction with the public. Assistant Store Manager Julian Rance shares how a small gesture of showing gratitude made a big impact on a very special customer and his family.

Mr. Bob was one of the regular shoppers at our Cornelius store.  He was an elderly man who always enjoyed giving management a hard time about our pricing of medical supplies such as wheelchairs and walkers.  He would never disclose any of his own health issues with us, but we could clearly observe him slowing down.

He would often request a manager to visit him on the sales floor to discuss his concerns, but would still remember to thank us for our efforts to help people in his situation receive lower prices on medical supplies (even though he argued we could go even lower).  Mr. Bob enjoyed his interactions with us and openly considered us his family.

In December as I was making my 30-mile commute to work, it dawned on me that Mr. Bob had not visited the store for a few weeks. Upon my arrival, I decided that I would look him up in our store database and contact him later that day. Good fortune would have it that I would not need to make the call. Within 20 minutes of being at work, Mr. Bob called the store to speak with me!

He inquired about our jewelry jars, which he absolutely loved, and also shared that his battle with cancer was nearing its end. He was in hospice care. He told me he planned to come see his “family” when he got better. I knew what this meant.

For hours I pondered how to share our appreciation for Mr. Bob with him, but I knew time was limited.  Then, a few hours later, Mr. Bob’s son entered the store to look for the jewelry jar that Mr. Bob had inquired about earlier. I immediately knew who he was because he looked like an identical version of Mr. Bob, only 30 years younger. In speaking with his son, I learned that Mr. Bob was too sick to leave his house. At that moment, I knew what I wanted to do.

We could not bring Mr. Bob to Goodwill, but we could bring Goodwill to Mr. Bob. The following day, I brought my personal camera to work and recorded videos of the staff sharing their appreciation for Mr. Bob and his antics. I then made a DVD for him and contacted Mr. Bob’s family to see when it would be best to drop it off. I was determined to share the DVD with Mr. Bob before he drew his final breath.

That Friday, on my day off, I drove from my home in Matthews to Mr. Bob’s home in Davidson. I was greeted by his immediate family and they welcomed me into their home where I found Mr. Bob resting on a bed in front of his television.

As soon as he saw me, he reached for my hand and told me how much he missed his Goodwill family. I showed the DVD to him and he began giving instructions on how to turn on his DVD player. After watching the video, everyone in the room was visibly moved and began sharing stories about Mr. Bob. I learned how the staff from the Cornelius Taco Bell had already come by to deliver a “Mr. Bob Special” – a special food order made with ingredients that he could easily chew, which received the name because it was all he would order. I also learned about his childhood and his early days as a new father.

I spent an hour with Mr. Bob and his family that day. As I was leaving, his daughter hugged me several times and told me he was now satisfied because he had his whole family with him.

Mr. Bob passed away a few days before Christmas. I was alerted to his death by a personal phone call from his son. Although he was distraught, he jokingly told me he had a ton of stuff to return to Goodwill that his father had accumulated over the years. I told him we would take exceptional care of Mr. Bob’s belongings when they came back to us.

In late January, I entered the building on a closing shift and found one of our Donations Processors waiting for me. He immediately told me that Mr. Bob’s family had dropped off his belongings. Before I could get the question out he said, “We all took good care of his donations and his family thanked us the entire time.”

We can never lose sight of the fact that without our customers, we have no business. Thanking them or appreciating them should be the largest part of what we do, outside of providing excellent retail experiences.


Julian and Mr. Bob, a longtime Goodwill supporter



Success Story: James

April 18, 2014

IMG_1306 (2)Imagine walking outside one day and the world as you knew it had changed. It sounds frightening—and a little bit dreamlike—but this scenario is the reality for hundreds of people released from prison each year after serving long-term sentences.

When James walked out of prison, it was the first time he’d experienced the world outside of the prison walls in more than 24 years. Gone were the VCRs and eight-tracks he remembered leaving behind, and in front of him was a world teeming with tiny cell phones and wireless devices that he had no knowledge of operating. “I was ashamed and embarrassed to ask people about these common things that they took for granted,” he recalls.

James attended Goodwill’s Second Chance workshop to gain tips on dealing with a criminal record in his job search. Through the program, he gained temporary employment as a contractor in Goodwill’s E-waste department. He began building a base of employment skills and work experience to help him find and keep a job.

Although James was open about his criminal background, there was a secret that he kept hidden from the world. Feeling insurmountable pressure to find a job and acclimate to a new life outside of prison, James was drinking heavily to cope with the frustration, anger and fear that he felt. “When I looked in the mirror, I saw a failure,” he said. “I felt like I was too old to make a change.”

James reached his lowest point after surfacing from a three-day drinking binge. He checked into a detox program and stayed for more than a month. With the help of the Men’s Shelter of Charlotte and Urban Ministries, James participated in their respective Community-Based Substance Abuse Treatment (CBSAT) program and the Substance Abuse Education and Recovery (SABER) program to regain control over his life. Over the course of several months, he received free housing, substance abuse education and therapy.

After completing treatment, James ran into Goodwill team member Vince Hicks. Aware of James’ personal situation, Vince asked him when he could start working again. Within days, Vince set up a meeting between James and Director of Environmental Enterprises Patrick Darrow. Patrick offered James a second chance to work at Goodwill in the e-waste department once again.

With a new outlook on life, James was grateful for the opportunity to prove his value as a worker. “Goodwill helped me grow emotionally and mentally because they bent over backwards to help me,” said James. “They saw that I was trying to build a different life for myself and supported me every step of the way. That motivated me to work even harder every day to prove that I am responsible, dependable and trustworthy.”

Now eight months sober, James has already started his job search with the help of team member Betty Cherry for when his contract with Goodwill ends. He keeps his goals simple. “I want to find permanent employment, find a place of my own and get a dog,” he laughs.

With a burgeoning skill set, James is eager to try out the tools he’s acquired at Goodwill in a permanent workplace. “It won’t be easy,” he admits, “but I’m no longer a person who is scared to try. I have faith that I can win this fight.”

Elizabeth Isenhour

Elizabeth Isenhour


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