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Success Story: Jason

August 24, 2015

Jason CroppedFor many job hunters with a criminal background, getting a second chance isn’t easy. After Jason served several prison sentences, he learned that Goodwill was a resource available to help those with barriers to employment, including how to navigate job searching with a criminal background.

Jason came to Goodwill’s Career Development Center in Charlotte and was immediately welcomed by a team of people ready and willing to help him get back on his feet. He enrolled in the Second Chance Workshop, a program designed to help individuals with criminal backgrounds re-integrate into the workforce. Jason chose the Second Chance Workshop because he needed help transitioning back into daily civilian life.

“It’s hard to adapt after getting out of prison. That was my problem – adapting,” he said.

While at Goodwill, Jason learned communication and interviewing skills, how to write an appealing resume, how to dress professionally, and much more, all while being surrounded by a strong support group.

Jason said of the workshop, “The little things you learn are key.”

Jason had some work experience before prison and from jobs he worked between sentences, but he needed help polishing his skills and learning how to communicate those skills in a way that was appealing to employers. The Second Chance Workshop did just that.

After completing the Second Chance Workshop, Jason was hired to work at Oneliance, a building and property maintenance company located in Charlotte. Jason used the skills he developed in Goodwill’s workshop to speak and interview well with the Oneliance owners.

Jason’s goal in life was to own his own business. After several promotions as an employee for Oneliance, Jason asked the owners if he could work with them as an independent contractor. The owners, knowing what great work Jason had already done for them, agreed. Today, Jason owns his own business as an independent contractor specializing in recruiting skilled labor, and Oneliance is one of his clients.

Jason’s advice to anyone needing help getting back on their feet is to go to Goodwill.

“Utilize the tools that they give you. And try to make it work, because it does work. A lot of people fail because they won’t try,” he said.

Jason’s hard work and determination, along with the help of Goodwill, have opened up an entire future of possibility for him.

“Five years from now, moving forward with a purpose, there’s no telling what I will be doing,” he said. “The sky is the limit.”

Watch the video below to see Jason speak firsthand about his journey with Goodwill.

DIY Candle Lantern with Tuna Can Base

August 21, 2015

Candle Lanterns from Tuna Cans (9)There are not many moments that my mind is not on thrifting, decorating and/or organizing. This is especially true when on vacation and visiting another city. I’m always on the hunt for new treasures and ways to save money. On a recent trip to Charleston, S.C. to celebrate my sister’s birthday, we couldn’t resist using our handy dandy Goodwill locator app to find the stores in the area.

On one such stop, I came across the lantern glass I’d been hunting for quite some time. The $.79 price tag made the deal even sweeter! If you know me, you know all things candle-related are my deal. I love, love, love candles. But as you know, candles and candle holders can be pricey depending on where you shop.

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As luck, or as I like to think of it, the “thrift gods” would have it, the round shape of our favorite tuna cans provide the perfect base for my lantern idea. Any brand of tuna will do for this project as long as it’s the larger can.

Just about everything you’ll need for your new DIY lanterns, on the cheap, can be found at your local Goodwill…well, except for the tuna of course! For some reason, people donate candles all the time. As for the lantern toppers, check the glass section where items such as vases are kept at Goodwill. Here’s all of my supplies.

  1. Lantern topper
  2. Spray paint in your choice of color (Oil Rubbed Bronze a.k.a. ORB is my favorite)
  3. Empty tuna cans (time for that tuna sandwich)
  4. Candles

Next, after enjoying that gourmet tuna sandwich you whipped up, you’ll want to make sure your now-empty cans are clean and there are no sharp edges inside. I find that I get a cleaner cut using a manual can opener. Once they’re all cleaned up, make sure they’re completely dry.

For this next step, you’ll want to go outside. If you can’t go outside, make sure this next step is done in a well ventilated area and you use a mask.

This is my favorite color and brand of spray paint. It’s Rust-Oleum’s Oil Rubbed Bronze and for this project, I’m using the satin metallic finish. Again, feel free to use whatever color you wish to incorporate into the décor of the area you’re going to use your new lanterns.

Candle Lanterns from Tuna Cans (6)

Now head outside and paint your empty tuna cans. When using spray paint, you want to follow these steps for a smooth finish:

1. Hold the can approximately 10 – 12 inches away from the surface.

2. Getting too close to the surface can cause drips and runs.

3. Paint with a sweeping motion.

Apply thin coats of paint to avoid drips and runs. Allow your painted cans to dry for at least three hours. Spray on a second coat of paint if needed. Allow the second coat of paint to dry before handling.

Candle Lanterns from Tuna Cans (7)

Once your cans are dry, you’re now ready to assemble and enjoy your new lanterns. Here’s a look below at how I’m enjoying mine.

Candle Lanterns from Tuna Cans (11)

So if you love candles, and a good ol’ tuna fish sandwich as much as I do, next time just remember to hold on to those tuna cans and on your next visit to Goodwill, take a peek in the glass section for a topper and you too can enjoy a little candlelight with your tuna!

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.

Success Story: Wanda

August 18, 2015

DSC_0232 (3)For someone who has been out of the workforce for an extended period of time, landing a new job can be difficult. Lapses in resumes and employment history can become a barrier to employment when trying to find a job. Wanda had been out of the corporate world for more than 14 years and needed help finding long term, sustainable employment.

“My age and gender were always in the back of my mind. I thought to myself, ‘Who is going to ever hire me?’” Wanda said.

One day while at the library, Wanda saw a flyer for Goodwill’s Occupational Skills Training programs, and the hospitality and tourism training class specifically caught her eye. She came to Goodwill and immediately began using the resources to better herself.

“Before I came to Goodwill, I decided I wanted a career, not just a job. Keeping that in the back of my mind helped me overcome my obstacles,” Wanda said.

Before enrolling in Goodwill’s hospitality and tourism training class, Wanda completed several computer courses at Goodwill to gain the technological skills necessary to find employment in today’s competitive workforce. She then completed the seven-week-long hospitality and tourism training class, and continues to return to Goodwill to take additional computer courses.

Wanda said of her time at Goodwill, “I have learned a lot: computer skills, basic communication skills, how to keep a positive attitude in difficult situations, how to be passionate about life, and how to be passionate about the job itself, because how you come across to people determines how they interact with you.”

After completing the training programs at Goodwill, Wanda attended the Goodwill Industries Week Job Fair on Thursday, May 8th, 2015, where she spoke with a manager from Springhill Suites hotels. Wanda filled out a job application and submitted a copy of her resume that day. A few weeks later, she received a call from the manager asking her to come in for an interview. She interviewed and was hired on the spot.

Today, Wanda is a full-time front desk associate at Springhill Suites and enjoys all the benefits of her new career. She is grateful to Goodwill for changing her life.

“The system works. I have a newfound respect for Goodwill. I knew Goodwill was here to help the community, but I didn’t realize the extent. Everything is here and it’s free. All you need to do is walk in and let them know what you want,” she said.

Wanda’s self-confidence is higher than ever, and she is looking forward to her future.

“I feel like I can conquer the world. I feel like I beat the odds, and I’m just as happy as I can be,” she said. “I thank God every day for Goodwill.”

Save Big on Back-to-School Shopping at Goodwill

August 11, 2015

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Back-to-school shopping can be a stressful and expensive trip for many parents and children preparing for the new school year. According to the National Retail Federation, families are spending less on back-to-school shopping this year after splurging in 2014. Goodwill is here to help families find bargains and maximize their budgets with clothing, electronics and furniture at sharply reduced prices compared to the mall or other retailers. At Goodwill, families can purchase several outfits for the average price of one, or furniture for campus housing at prices college students can afford.

Goodwill offers values all across the board for back-to-school and back-to-college shopping. Children’s clothing at Goodwill starts as low as $2.79, and men’s and women’s denim for teens as low as $4.99. Families can score shoes for children at the low price of $3.49, with adult shoes priced at $4.99. As often as children wear out clothing and shoes, Goodwill is the place to purchase these items for less in preparation for the inevitable holes and stains. Why spend more on a pair of gloves when children may come home off the bus missing one – at Goodwill, accessories can be found for as low as 99¢.

At The GRID: Powered by Goodwill, our electronics store in the University area, high school and college students can purchase laptop computers for as low as $99.99, printers as low as $29.99, and video game systems such as PlayStation and Xbox for study breaks from $9.99 and up.

For college students looking for furniture to decorate the dorm or apartment, Goodwill carries furniture of all varieties, including desks, couches, tables, dining chairs, dressers, rugs and more as low as $14.99.

Head to a Goodwill retail store near you this week to check off everything on your shopping list while saving big. In addition to purchasing new clothing, Goodwill is a great place to donate last year’s clothing as you clean out closets to make room for the new fall wardrobe. Plus when you shop back-to-school at Goodwill, your support funds job training and employment services to help individuals in our community find work and earn wages to support themselves and their families.

Follow Goodwill Industries of the Southern Piedmont on Facebook (, Twitter (@GoodwillSP), and Instagram (@GoodwillSP) for real time photos of what we’ve got in our local Goodwill stores for your back-to-school shopping this year.

DIY Solutions for Bride on a Budget – Part 2

August 7, 2015

There are plenty of ways to save money on your wedding, from trimming your guest list to making your own decorations. My last post in Part 1 showed you how to decorate on the cheap using antique teacups and picture frames, but the thrifty inspiration is still flowing! Between using vintage linens to your DIY advantage and scouring Goodwill for one-of-a-kind centerpieces, I have a few more fun ideas that will put your nuptial celebration over the top without breaking the piggy bank.

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Credit: Patrick Malone

DIY Bunting

One of my favorite decor pieces for any party is a pennant banner. Banners are like the universal sign for, “Good times are happening right here.” Known also as bunting, especially in the U.K., colorful banners are not only joyous to look at, but they’re also cool and easy projects to undertake yourself. And there are ways to make yours pretty meaningful, too.

For this example, I used the nice parts of worn-out, torn dresses that belonged to my grandmother. After holding on to them for a while, I decided to brainstorm ways to bring the dresses’ whimsical patterns and vibrant colors out of the box and celebrate them (and her) better. The perfect solution was to create a pennant banner that can be used for special occasions to come—from weddings and anniversaries to birthdays and baby showers.

I also used an XXL brown and white polka dot skirt I found at Goodwill. The fabric was too adorable to pass up, and I decided to turn that large-scale garment into the project, too.


  1. For a template, cut out a triangle to your desired size and place it onto the uncut fabric. Using a Sharpie, carefully mark the triangle’s points onto the fabric and then cut out the triangles. Cut enough triangles to use two at a time across the string of twine.
  2. Using a hot glue gun, glue the shortest edge of a triangle along the twine and repeat this step with another triangle, placing it back to back with the first one.
  3. Careful to use the same amount of space between each set, continue to glue the pieces onto the twine until you reach your desired length.

This is a great project for you, your bridesmaids, family and close friends. Have everyone bring a snack dish and maybe a bottle or two of wine, and let the crafty good times roll.


I never paid much attention to the linen section of the thrift store until I found myself sourcing some for a wedding. Funnily enough, beautiful vintage tablecloths began to seemingly find me once I decided to keep my eyes peeled for what the bride requested: vintage mismatched tablecloths.

For this wedding, I found several white doily crocheted tablecloths: Perfect! Underneath, I used all kinds of linens—mostly white, but a lot of florals and colors, too. The result? Absolutely stunning.

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Credit: Patrick Malone

Mismatched Vases

As for the centerpieces and such for the reception, you can go completely bonkers, creatively speaking. Ask your thrift-store savvy friends and family to be on the lookout for vintage glasses, interesting tin cans, and antique pitchers. Fill them with fresh or dried flowers. Use one per table or cluster a few “vases” together for your reception tables. Remember to collect a lot of candidates for vases, since they’re great for using everywhere, from the coffee-and-tea station to the guest book table to the dining tables.

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Credit: Patrick Malone


Look to your natural surroundings for other tabletop decor ideas. I love this rustic pinecone juxtaposed with the softer tabletop decor. I live in the South, so magnolias are plentiful and perfect for adorning a wedding reception table. Dandelions placed inside thrifted miniature glasses and jars could add a dainty yet childlike touch, while thrift store teacups filled with pretty pebbles, succulents, flowers or seashells would make for a magical, Alice-in-Wonderland-style celebration.

What kinds of mismatched Goodwill goods would you like to decorate with?

Kelly Rae Smith writes about crafts and DIY projects for The wedding planning ideas Kelly talks about in this article are inspired by many of the wedding planning options viewable at Shutterfly Online.

DIY Decorative Curtain Tie-Backs

July 30, 2015

1 Drapery TIe-Back Silver BeadsThe trend in dressing windows today is simple and casual. Straight panels with tab or grommet tops are very popular. They’re easy to open and close without the fuss of traverse rods and cords.

Sometimes you need to close the curtains for privacy or to keep the sun out. Other times you’ll want them open to let the air in or to admire the garden view.

Adding personality to curtains is as easy as coming up with creative tie-backs. You don’t have to settle for matching fabric ties or the more formal cord and tassel tie-backs. Use your imagination and put vintage items or found objects to a new use!

First, I pulled out strands of antique beads I use on my Christmas tree. The silver ones add a touch of elegance to grey taffeta drapes. I used four 36 in. strings for this style. Use a fine wire to hold them together and make a small loop.

Hold the tie-back in place with a cup hook or a push pin.

2 Drapery Tie-Back Vintage Gloves

If you want something a bit more unexpected, try a pair of vintage gloves on for size! You’ll want long ones (this pair is 15 in.). Pin them together at the opening. Overlap the fingers and hold in place with an antique brooch (does anyone call pins brooches anymore?). Choose a color that matches the décor of the room.

3 Vintage Gloves

4 Drapery Tie-Back DIY Tassel

A sheer embroidered curtain calls for a feminine tie-back. A DIY tassel from mismatched trims is sweet and pretty—just right for a girl’s room.

5 Drapery Tie-Back DIY Tassel Step 1

6 Drapery Tie-Back DIY Tassel Step 2

7 Drapery Tie-Back DIY Tassel Step 3

I gathered an odd collection of ribbons—some new, some old. Cut pieces about 12 in. long and hold them together by wrapping them with one of the ribbons, an inch from the top. Cut off the excess trim at the top and bottom.

8 Drapery Tie-Back with Vintage Keys

To make the tie-back, I wrapped tulle around the curtain and attached the tassel. For a little more romance and mystery, I tied a couple of vintage skeleton keys to the tassel.

9 Drapery Tie-Back with Vintage Brushes

For something a little more masculine, I used a trio of vintage straw brushes: One old whisk brush and two cloth brushes—the kind the butler would have used to brush fuzz off your jacket! I tied them to a 36 in. piece of brown ribbon (matching the curtain) and attached it to the window moulding with a bulletin board pushpin.

10 Vintage Brushes

What creative items do you have that could become tie-backs for curtains or drapes?

Merri Cvetan’s ideas for creative curtain tie-backs come from projects at her 1890s-built Wisconsin farmhouse. Merri is an interior designer who writes about her projects for The Home Depot. A large selection of drapes and curtains that may go great with tie-backs you create yourself can be found on the Home Depot website.

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 in Charlotte. 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.


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