25th Annual Good Turn for Goodwill Drive

This April, over 1,000 Girl Scouts from the Spirit of Nebraska Council (former known as the Great Plains (Omaha metro) and Prairie Hills (Fremont area) Councils) and Nishnabotna Council (Council Bluffs area) will participate in the 25th Annual Good Turn for Goodwill Donation Drive.

On April 17, participating Girl Scouts will distribute nearly 30,000 door hangers to households throughout Omaha and surrounding communities requesting donations of gently-used clothing and household items.

On April 24th, Girl Scouts will drop off collected material from 9:30 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. at 10 of Goodwill’s retail locations:

Omaha – 41st & Pacific – 84th S. of Center – 108th N. of Blondo – 144th & Old L – 156th N. of Maple – 180th S. of Q
Bellevue – 25th & Capehart
Papillion – 85th & Giles
Fremont – E. Hwy. 30 S.
Council Bluffs – I-80 & Madison Avenue

Event sponsors include: SkateDaze, Blue Bunny, The Rose Theater, and many more metro businesses.

In 2009, Girl Scouts collected 140,000 pounds of donated material for Goodwill. All donated material collected during the drive will be sold in the agency’s 11 retail stores with proceeds benefiting Goodwill’s employment and training program for people with disabilities and other disadvantages. Goodwill served nearly 3,000 people last year alone, and over 800 were placed in jobs.

Contracts Corner: Justine Fowler

Goodwill recognizes Justine Fowler in this month’s Contracts Corner. As a custodian at Offutt, the natural assumption is that she has received this honor due to her solid work ethic. This assumption wouldn’t be wrong either. But the main attribute her supervisors cite is her friendliness.

For some of us, friendliness isn’t a huge obstacle. But for shy people like Justine, it can be a struggle. When she joined her custodial crew, she had a difficult time communicating with people. She chose to write notes to avoid having to talk to her coworkers. We can all relate to this feeling, but for Justine the challenge of interacting with coworkers, supervisors and government personel seemed daunting.

But Justine never gave up. She struggled with her attendance early, missing several days, but she is now attending work regularly. Which is very good news for her entire crew, because Justine has become a champion for people like her. Her supervisors note that one area of growth has been her ability to make others feel welcome in the workplace.

The staff at Offutt now takes pride in Justine’s friendliness, and her ability to get along well with everyone on the base. She is now able to talk to her co-workers and supervisors alike, and her satisfaction with this progress is evident. Her supervisors note that Justine always has a smile and a sense of well being when she is working.

So congratulations to Justine for showing us all what can happen when we persevere through adversity. She is an excellent example for all the things that can happen, when we don’t give up on ourselves.

First GED for the new YouthBuild

Eric Newton recently became the first YouthBuild participant to obtain his GED since the program relaunched last fall.

Eric began working with Goodwill as a part of the workforce development Summer Youth Program in the summer of 2009. Near the end of the summer, he ran into Chad Garvis, the YouthBuild coordinator, who told him about the program. Eric decided it was for him, so he joined up at the conclusion of his Summer Youth experience.

Eric said he likes the hands-on aspect of YouthBuild, which he feels makes it easier to learn. And he said when he finds he doesn’t understand something, the staff has been extremely helpful.

The biggest challenges of the program were getting used to the structure and getting back into a routine, he said. But now he’s got his GED and construction training as well.

Eric’s next goal is to get into college and take classes in computers, which is his career interest. He’ll be taking part in some job shadowing through YouthBuild to learn more about the field.

He said the program has taught him perseverance in working toward his goals.

“At times it might be frustrating, but you have to hang on,” he said. “Stay with it.”

Congratulations on completing your GED, Eric!

New customer service program grant awarded

Goodwill recently received a $2 million federal grant to provide training to unemployed people in customer service positions for the financial services / insurance industry.

Shane Pekny, Goodwill’s Business Development and Grants Manager, knows everything there is to know about it, and he’s willing to share.

GOODWILL: So Shane, what is this new program we’ve been hearing about?
SHANE: It doesn’t have an official name yet, but in the grant it’s called Customer Contact Training. It’s a workforce development program that trains people for customer service representative positions, primarily at insurance companies and banks in Omaha.

These are good-paying jobs that require a higher set of skills than what people normally think of. This is not telemarketing – this is customer service regarding complex products, like insurance policies.

GOODWILL: Has our Goodwill done anything like this in the past?
SHANE: This is building atop the foundation of the customer service program that we provided in the fall of 2008. That was a one-time pilot project that we ran with the help of the Greater Omaha Chamber of Commerce. This new grant will make that program bigger, more effective and it will be able to provide training on an ongoing basis for three years to start.

GOODWILL: Can you tell us more about the grant?
SHANE: The grant is for $2 million from the U.S. Department of Labor through the Recovery Act, and we are the only Goodwill in the country to receive money under this grant program.

The grant will fund the hiring of four full-time positions and a part-time position. That staff will recruit and assess the people who are involved in the training, and they’ll coach them and place them into jobs after the training and provide follow-up services for six months.
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Move Update: March

Look out! Goodwill is moving. Most of you know this already, but we want to keep everyone in the loop. So this is your monthly update on all our latest relocation plans, and here’s what we have done so far:

1) Formed Committees
Anyone worth their salt knows that the first step in getting anything done is to form committees. We formed eight. From telephones, to moving vans, to cubicles, if it’s related to our move we have a committee for it.

2) Toured Other Facilities
Our committees have looked at Child Savings Institute and The Omaha Cathedral Conference Center in the past two months. Both of these facilities were recently renovated, and the tours provided valuable information on the design and decoration decisions that lie ahead for Goodwill.

3) Interviewed Other Goodwills.
Each of our committees has contacted a Goodwill from another part of the country which has moved recently. These sister agencies were able to provide important logistical feedback for the months ahead.

We will be offering continued updates in the months ahead, but in the meantime, think of the Clothes Line staff as your go-to resource for any move-related questions you might have. If we don’t have the answer, we will move heaven and hell until we find it.

Drop us a line ([email protected]), or call us up (402-522-7225), with any and all of your moving questions and concerns.

Employee of the Month: February

The Southwest Retail Store is a monster. Located at 144th and Old L, it is our biggest store, and it puts up the biggest numbers. Thank goodness January Employee of the Month Annealiese (or Anne) Timmerman works there.

Anne is a perfect fit for Southwest, because organization is her middle name. As a Donated Goods Sorter Hanger, she is integral to the task of making sure all the donations received at Southwest end up in the right place. With the volume of donated goods that move around the Southwest back room, doing so accurately is absolutely critical.

Not only is Anne exceptional in her ability to sort goods as she processes, but also in her innate talent for counting the gaylords she has filled for specific seasons. She loads all seasonal items into corresponding gaylords (gaylords are the giant cardboard boxes retail uses for storage), and when it’s time to unload them she know exactly how many she has loaded for each season. It’s uncanny.

She is also an advocate for the customers. She prices items fairly, but with an emphasis on making as much money for the Goodwill mission as possible. She even goes so far as to comparison shop at other retailers with an eye for valuing Goodwill items accurately. She also has a keen eye for collectibles, and items that are a good fit for shopgoodwill.com, Goodwill’s online auction site.

Anne makes the craziness of Southwest a little less crazy. She is liked by her staff and supervisors, and her smile is infectious. She is gracious and respectful to everyone she meets, and a very deserving Employee of the Month. Thank you Anne, for all you do. You continue to make Goodwill look good.