Celebrating 25 Years of ADA

ADA 25

We have gone through some big changes and giant leaps in the 240 years since the United States first became a country. Just when it seems there is no hurdle left to jump, our country extends inclusion to a minority group who has been oppressed. The specific minority group that Goodwill is in a close relationship with are the people with disabilities.

Before 1990 (and unfortunately even after 1990), people with disabilities have been discriminated against in the work place. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) of 1990 is a law passed by Congress that prohibits discrimination based on disability.

As described by the law a disability includes both mental and physical handicaps. It doesn’t need to be severe or permanent to be considered a disability. This act opened the door to success for people with and without disabilities across the country.

There are five titles that make up the ADA; employment, public entities; including public transportation, public accommodations, telecommunications and miscellaneous provisions. These five titles make up one of the most important laws for every one with any type of disabilities.

As stated in the ADA first title, an employer can’t refuse to hire a prospect based upon an apparent disability.  The second act is as important, making school districts and public transportation accessible to people with disabilities.  The third act protects the disabled in public accommodations such as hotels, restaurants, stores and other public places.  The fourth title requires that all telecommunication companies take steps to ensure equivalent services for consumers with disabilities and, more specifically, people who are hard of hearing or who are deaf.  The fifth and final title includes technical provisions that relate to the ADA as a whole.

Nineteen percent of United States citizens currently have disabilities and The Americans with Disabilities Act prohibits discrimination and ensures equal opportunity for people with disabilities in the work place.

Since opening its doors in 1933 Goodwill Omaha has always been more than just a thrift store. has been dedicated to helping find jobs for those with barriers to employment, including those with disabilities. Goodwill is so much more than a retail store where it is common to find a good deal. Goodwill trains and employs people with disabilities and others who may be at a competitive disadvantage in the job market. Goodwill and the ADA work hand-in-hand assisting those with disabilities to find jobs and learn the necessary skills required in the work force.

Before the ADA was introduced in 1990 Goodwill was already a leader in training and assisting people with various disabilities through different programs including Work Experience. At that time it was only a one way street and work opportunities were merely a fraction of what they are today.

When employers hear the phrase “hiring a disabled employee” they might think of the overwhelming costs and the dramatic changes that they will have to make, but in reality it usually takes no more than a minor adjustment to accommodate these employees.

Businesses becoming more accessible is crucial to having a full workforce that includes everyone, regardless of their ability. The ADA shows us what can be accomplished when all workers are given an opportunity to use their talents. The Americans with Disabilities Act also makes it easier for wounded warriors and disabled veterans to be protected under the law as well.

Goodwill Work Experience, AbilityOne, and other programs focus on training people with disabilities in a similar way that the ADA has opened up the professional world for everyone with physical and mental disabilities.  Goodwill workforce development programs are working harder than ever for the inclusion of people with disabilities in the work place.  Here is to a great 25 years under the ADA and to many more!

Work Experience Trainer Peter Bataillon helps students during Skills to Pay the Bills

Work Experience Trainer Peter Bataillon helps students during Skills to Pay the Bills

 

 

#ThriftyThursday – Go Big Red!

 

It may still be summer, but it’s never too early to start getting ready for Husker season! Goodwill at Benson Park currently has a classic Fisher Price ESPN electronic table top football game for just $14.99. The game has controls that let you move the electronic player back and forth.

The interesting twist is that to go faster you have to actually run on the mat and your steps are aligned with the gameplay. This is a great way to play a video game while still being active.

Electronic football game at Goodwill BPP

Electronic football game at Goodwill Benson Park

The game is being sold on amazon by a few vendors for very high prices up to $275, what a deal at Goodwill!

The best part about the game is that the two joysticks resemble football players, one is in a jersey similar to the Iowa Hawkeyes and the other looks similar to the Cornhuskers jerseys. Go Big Red!

#ThriftyThursday – Rockin’ out for little dough

chair1

While shopping at Goodwill on 72nd and Ames Avenue, I remembered that you never know what you are going to find.  I popped into Goodwill just to look around.  In all honesty, I was primarily looking for clothes for my daughter.  But as I walked down the furniture aisle, I found an old kid-sized rocking chair.  It was only $5.99! I knew that my two year old daughter would just love it, but it was in rough shape though.

I took it home and turned it over to my husband.  He sanded it down and then we put a coat of stain on it – pretty simplistic as far as DIY projects go.  The end result was better than expected.   It’s a beautiful deep maple color that fits not only my daughter perfectly, but also my living room décor.    In fact, my daughter loves it so much that we had her picture taken it the chair.  We plan to have our six dollar find around for a very long time!

finished chair

2015 Retail Cardholder Survey Results

Hello Everyone!

Welcome to our yearly review of the Annual Goodwill Cardholder Survey. Once a year we send out a survey to everyone with a Goodwill Card.

The Goodwill Card is our little multipurpose tool for shoppers and donors. It’s able to keep track of donor records (no more saving donation receipts). It provides discounts for senior citizens, military members, students and teachers.  Signing up also allows us to keep you informed of any special promotions and offers throughout the year. If you don’t have a Goodwill Card we highly encourage you to get one.  You can sign up  at any of our stores in the Greater Omaha Metro.

Now then, back to the survey. We sent it to about 16,000 Goodwill Cardholders, and more than 1,000 responded. We entered all of those people into a drawing for a $100 Goodwill gift card, and Darryl S. of Omaha was selected as our winner.  Congratulations Darryl!

Here are some highlights of what we learned from the survey this year:

Continue reading

#ThriftyThursday- What’s Cookin at Goodwill

Slider cooker for $4.99

Slider cooker for $4.99

Why shop anywhere but Goodwill for kitchen appliances, pots and pans!

There is always such a neat array of different kitchen appliances from crock pots to cotton candy makers. A favorite appliance of mine is a Panini press that can grill almost anything you could imagine. While shopping at the Benson Park store I found an All-League Sliders cooker that caught my eye. Sliders are hamburgers that have the same great flavor but are shrunk down to a quarter of the size.

This Sliders cooker is only $4.99 (retails for $45 on Amazon) and can be used for summer cook outs with family and friends.

Supporters think governor’s unemployment program will help people find jobs faster

Steve Jordon and Janice Podsada / World-Herald staff writers The Omaha World-Herald

Many local businesses and nonprofits are applauding Nebraska’s new re-employment program that will require job seekers to put some hustle into their job search as soon as they’re eligible for unemployment benefits.

“I think this is fantastic,” said Virginia Kiviranta, senior staffing manager with Noll Human Resources Services in Omaha and an officer with the Human Resources Association of the Midlands. “You’ve got to find a way to streamline the process and make the person more accountable for their own search.”

Most people who register for unemployment insurance work hard at finding another job, she said, but some are “working the system” to collect payments without a real interest in finding work.

Kiviranta said Gov. Pete Ricketts’ plan, announced last week, would help people who are seriously trying to find jobs and won’t exclude people unfairly from unemployment benefits.

“It’s important that (the state) puts something in place so people are required to do more,” she said.

Noll recently filled a 14-person call center class with jobs paying $16.55 an hour. People in the class previously were unemployed. Other jobs paying $12 to $13 an hour are still open, and a big “Now Hiring” sign is outside the company’s office.

Still, three people recently failed background checks and drug tests, which most employers require, Kiviranta said.

Under the new program, which begins Oct. 1, job seekers will be required to attend a group orientation meeting and a one-on-one coaching session as soon as they file for unemployment benefits, said John Albin, Nebraska’s commissioner of labor.

“This will pull them in early and give them a re-employment plan right away,” Albin said.

That’s a change from the current system in which recipients aren’t contacted by the department until after they’ve been receiving benefits for a month or more.

“We run a profile on them after four or five weeks, and if it looks like they’re having trouble finding a job, we pull them in for an orientation session,” Albin said.

Albin said many job seekers who have been helped by the coaching program have asked why it wasn’t implemented sooner in their job search.

Job seekers taking unemployment benefits currently are required to contact at least two employers each week and fulfill other requirements to continue receiving jobless benefits. Under the new program, that won’t change, but now the Labor Department will be able to track certain aspects of job seekers’ searches on the state’s employment website. Those who are eligible for unemployment benefits but opt out of the new program won’t receive unemployment pay.

Its goal is to connect job seekers with high-wage, high-skill and high-demand jobs by improving presentation and bolstering a skill set.

A spokesman for Nebraska Appleseed, a nonprofit that advocates on behalf of low-income Nebraskans, said it’s too early for the group to comment on the specifics of the plan.

“In general it’s always good to make sure that people are going back to work,” said Appleseed spokesman Jeff Sheldon. “But you want to make sure it’s within their ability to access services,” he said, referring to problems that can arise when low-income or the unemployed can’t easily access computers or other technologies.

The Greater Omaha Chamber of Commerce also declined to comment on the plan, saying officials were still reviewing its details.

Frank McGree, president and chief executive of Goodwill Industries, said, “I agree with it. The organization offers jobs and training for at-risk youth and people with disabilities and other disadvantages that could hurt their chances in the job market.

Such a program could help people who have held jobs for years and suddenly find themselves unemployed and often without the technological skills that employers require, McGree said.

“Some people go from low-
paying job to low-paying job and never get the training they need,” he said. The new state program could address that problem if it has a training component to help people qualify for available jobs.

The state provides unemployment benefits for 26 weeks, although the period may be extended under certain circumstances. The average benefit is about $250 a week, said Albin, the labor commissioner.

In May the state distributed about $4 million in unemployment benefits, down from a high, in recent years, of $40 million in March 2009.

Nebraska workers in the manufacturing, construction, and health care and social assistance industries had the highest number of unemployment insurance claims in recent months, and utilities, mining and management had some of the lowest.

(To see the original story visit http://www.omaha.com/money/supporters-think-governor-s-unemployment-program-will-help-people-find/article_7acbb6cd-559f-52d9-bbad-534f0e180384.html)

#ThriftyThursday – The Secret is Out, Goodwill Has it All

Don't Spill The Beans for $1.99 at Benson Park Plaza

Don’t Spill The Beans for $1.99 at Benson Park Plaza

One of my favorite sections to browse at Goodwill is the board game shelf. There is nothing I enjoy more than spending a weekend night playing different board games and competing to win as many as I can. The best part? Board games can be fun for anyone – ages 1 to 99.

I was browsing through the Benson Park Plaza store and the 1986 classic game “Don’t Spill the Beans” caught my eye, for only $1.99.  The point of the game is to get as many beans into the pot without shaking the pot and spilling the beans. This game would be perfect for the kiddos to play together and after looking through the description I think I might want to jump in and play!

After snapping some pictures of “Don’t Spill the Beans” I was approached by a customer who seemed to know exactly what I was doing; writing for The Good Times Blog. We started talking and she applauded all the great aspects of Goodwill. She told me that her favorite three places to shop were the Warehouse, the Benson Park Plaza store and finally online at ShopGoodwill, our online store. It’s always nice to hear great words about Goodwill, so thank you for talking with me Barbara!

Don’t take Barbara’s word for it, head to Goodwill today to find your very own treasure.

#ThriftyThursday – Gretna at a Glance

Gretna Employees Jane Aschtgen and Mary Kratochvil

Gretna Employees Jane Aschtgen and Mary Kratochvil

I recently had the chance to visit one of the newer stores in the Goodwill fleet, Gretna. Gretna Goodwill opened in October of 2013 and the set up went as smoothly as possible.   I had a chance to speak with Jane Aschtgen and Mary Kratochvil both of whom are employees, about the stores origins and the challenges and successes the store has faced. After the smooth setup customers didn’t flock to the store as fast as expected mainly because many people didn’t even know the store was there. After a little bit of time the word got out and people began to fill the store. Locals from Gretna are the most common customers but people from Lincoln even make the trip to find a good deal. Jane and Mary said sometimes the store even gets some customers traveling across the country that stop in to see what’s happening. I asked both of them what the most interesting thing sold at the store was and I got some pretty interesting answers. As I asked this question Helen Kneisel, one of the cashiers, quickly chirped in and said the most interesting thing she saw was a massage chair but she admitted that it might have been the most interesting because she was the one who bought it. They brought me over to the donations to show me a TOILET SEAT that someone had donated. The toilet seat probably won’t end up being put on the floor to be sold but you never know what is going to come through the donation door. They also both agreed the 1970’s polyester dresses that are donated are one of the cooler items. Brenda Powell, one of the donated goods processor said one of the best finds she had was a zither. I think she noticed the confused look on my face to what a zither is and she quickly explained that it is a musical instrument similar to a guitar but it is played like a piano. I next asked them what the best part of working at Goodwill is and they both looked at each other and agreed it has to be the people. You never know who is going to walk through the door and it is always so much fun to interact with such a diverse group. My last question for them was which day is the busiest? Neither of them worked weekends so during the week they both agreed Mondays are the busiest because the Color of the Week changes and a whole new possibility of savings open up. I visited the store on a pretty rainy day so I asked if people still came in on rainy days and to my disbelief the rainier days usually have the bigger crowds because shoppers want something to do because lying by the pool isn’t an option for the day.

Gretna 4 Wheeler

Gretna 4 Wheeler

After thanking the two for taking time out of their busy schedule it was then my time to look through the store to try and find some neat items and to no surprise I most certainly did. One of the items that really caught my eye was a child electric 4-wheeler. I thought of how much fun I would have had with that as a child.

4th of July Shelf at Gretna

4th of July Shelf at Gretna

The 4th of July is quickly approaching and you never know what cool decoration you might find on the 4th of July shelf. After an exciting trip to Gretna I can’t wait to go back and visit!

#ThriftyThursday- Jurassic Era

T-Rex as Benson Park Plaza for only $1.99!

T-Rex as Benson Park Plaza for only $1.99!

The new Christ Pratt movie, Jurassic World, is taking over the box offices because who doesn’t love dinosaurs and prehistoric theme parks? Well I am guilty of loving both of those and as luck would have it, while browsing the Benson Park Plaza store; I came across something that is almost as thrilling as the movie itself: a one-foot-tall replica Tyrannosaurus Rex! What better way to relive Jurassic World moments than with one of your very own dinosaurs. The best part about Mr. T-Rex is that he is only $1.99! You never know what interesting find you might come across at Goodwill!