A weekend of Goodwill in the World-Herald

Two of our own Goodwill Omaha employees were featured in the Omaha World-Herald this weekend. While both Elizabeth Startzer and Sarah Lorsung Tvrdik are awesome members of our Employment and Training family, they were both actually featured for interesting things they’re doing outside of work.

Work Experience Trainer Sarah Lorsung Tvrdik / omaha.com

In Creating niche from passion for fashion, reporter Valerie Novotny profiled Sarah, one of our Work Experience trainers, for how she has taken her interest in fashion and turned it from a hobby to a freelance career as a stylist, costumer and writer.

She got into the styling game through her husband, Jonathan Tvrdik, whom she met in high school and who is one of the co-founders of local film production company H-Minus Productions. When her husband struggled finding a costumer for various films and videos, he turned to the most stylish person he knew: his wife.

Through her work with her husband’s films, Lorsung Tvrdik found other jobs costuming for local independent theater companies and area fashion photo shoots.

She was an unconventional costumer. Instead of sewing pieces from scratch for the productions, she would turn to one of her favorite hobbies, thrifting.

“Working full time at Goodwill really helped when it came to finding costumes,” she said. “I was in the stores all the time anyway.”

Director of Workforce Services Elizabeth Startzer also has a knack for thrifting, but she was featured in the paper for how she’s using second-hand and vintage items to decorate her wedding this Saturday.
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Green: Your closet’s new favorite color

When thinking green, we often hear about riding a bike instead of driving, starting a backyard garden, and turning off electronics that we aren’t using. Often overlooked is clothing. Like it or not, we’re expected to get dressed every morning, but there is a way to do it while being kind to the Earth!

Slow Fashioned has put together six tips for making your wardrobe a little more eco-friendly:


Mixing up your basic wardrobe with a funky vintage hat, brightly colored scarf, or sparkling jewelry can afford you thousands of different combinations and unique looks! Accessories offer an endless array of combinations when added to a basic wardrobe.
1 Scarf x (worn 5 different ways) = 5 Different Looks


Make your shopping decisions based on quality rather than quantity. Classic garments that won’t ‘go out of style’ quickly are a great money-saving, eco-friendly, and slow fashioned choice. When you choose higher quality you may spend more up front but your clothing will last much longer, this means you’re likely to save money over the long run.
1 Classic High-Quality Blazer > 10 Cheaply Made Blazers

There are four more where that came from, so head over to Slow Fashioned for more tips!

After my month of wearing Goodwill, I know that I can (and should!) get by with less clothing. Time to clean out my closet, share the items I no longer need with friends or donate to Goodwill, and start following the tips from Slow Fashioned.

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Another Drive for Drives is in the bag of bags!

This past Saturday I had the good fortune of working the Goodwill Drive for Drives at Werner Park. For those of you who don’t know, the Drive for Drives was a computer recycling drive sponsored by Goodwill, the West Omaha Rotary Club and WOWT. Goodwill actually accepts computers for recycling or resale at all our locations throughout the year, but events like this serve as a reminder to the community that we offer this service. They’re also a reminder for folks to clean out their offices and garages and bring their old computers to Goodwill for this special event.

Cars line up to drop off their donations at the row of trailers

Your trusty blogger surveys the scene

Most of you know that the weather wasn’t exactly stellar last Saturday, but you would have never known it from the collective energy and enthusiasm of the Goodwill retail staff in attendance. I showed up to work the event at about 10am, and everything was all set up. There were about 15 trailers lined up side-by-side at Werner Park’s parking lot. Each trailer has several staff ready to load it. Cars would be sent all the way to the last trailer with the following cars queued up behind. At times we would be unloading up to ten cars at the same time. It was an amazing design that Retail Operations Director Shirley Hall put together for the drive, and it allowed all the employees and volunteers to have a hand in unloading the cars and trucks as they arrived.

In between cars, there was plenty of time to talk. The people in my area used that time to make fun of me for a wide variety of reasons:

• My sunglasses made me look like Tom Cruise from Risky Business.
• I wasn’t helping enough.
• I was helping too much and getting in the way.
• I didn’t know what I was doing.
• I wasn’t taking enough pictures.
• I was taking too many pictures.
• I wasn’t getting in the trailer the right way.
• I wasn’t getting out of the trailer the right way.

And it went on from there. It really helped pass the time. There was also a huge debate about proper procedures for waving a car through. Overhand? Or Underhand/ZZ Top Style? We never formed a consensus.
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The walls are going up in Blair

While the opening is still a few months away, our newest store is starting to take shape.

Our Blair store, located near the intersection of US-75 and US-30, will be our 15th retail location. As you can see, the walls being installed are pre-built. This is our first store using this environmentally friendly method of construction, as we noted on the blog back in November:

All of Goodwill’s previous stores have been built block-by-block; the Blair store will be built with pre-cast and pre-insulated outside walls.

“They’re better, they’re cheaper, and they can be built in the winter,” Parks said. The Blair store will also have better insulation in the walls and roof and more efficient heating, ventilation and air conditioning.

If you haven’t before, click on that link up there to read about all of the green things going on at Goodwill. Meanwhile, we’ll keep you updated as we get closer to our late summer / early fall opening!

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DIY: Refinishing an old dresser

Repurposing and refinishing old furniture doesn’t have to be a huge commitment of time or money.

Omaha resident Ashlee Young was able to restore this old dresser on a budget of less than $40 using just spare time on evenings and weekends.

Ashlee and her husband just bought a new house last month, and she was looking for inexpensive ways to furnish it.

“I went to grad school for two years, so I’m a very thrifty person,” she said.

The home has a long walls in the entry area, so she thought about getting an old dresser. A friend suggested checking out Goodwill’s WearHouse store at 72nd & F, and so Ashlee decided to stop by on her way home.

And as luck would have it, there happened to be a large, nine-drawer dresser on the sales floor for only $20. Having repurposed and restored other furniture before, Ashlee saw the potential in the dresser and brought it home.

During her spare time over the next week, Ashlee sanded down the dresser, applied two coats of primer, painted the dresser white, added the blue accents and then added a few finishing touches.
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DIY Dry Cleaning

photo by Sarah Baker Hansen

I’m going to be up front with you folks — I’ve never owned a silk blouse. Though in the interest of full disclosure, I did have a silk shirt that I wore to a middle school dance in the early 90s (top button buttoned, of course). The point is, I don’t know much about caring for silk clothing. However, somebody else does!

Omaha World-Herald food reporter (and occasional Goodwill Omaha chili contest judge) Sarah Baker Hansen recently found herself struggling with the issue of how best to clean silk blouses she’d purchased at thrift stores. One one hand, they’re delicate and need extra care. On the other hand, it can be hard to justify paying for dry-cleaning for something that initially cost a dollar or two.

Thus an experiment was born. Read all about Sarah’s venture into DIY Dry Cleaning on her blog at omavore.omaha.com.

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Introducing AbilityOne program employee Janet Johnson

by Jennifer Gries

Meet Janet Johnson! Janet works at the Zorinsky Federal Building in Omaha, Nebraska as a custodian. She is an outstanding employee of the Ability One Program. She recently spoke at a special featuring for the film, “For Once In My Life,” at the Ruth Sokolhoff Theatre. Janet felt honored to be selected because it allowed her to grow more confident in her abilities.

Janet spoke on behalf of herself and fellow co-workers with disabilities because she feels strongly that her job for Goodwill has given her direction, work without a label, confidence in working a federal job and hope. She loves the people she works with because they are very respectful. She feels the workforce development Ability One Program is an excellent program — one of the best!

Janet is an accomplished, dependent, strong woman. Janet lives with her husband in the Omaha area. She probably awoke late this morning because she is a bit of a night owl. Janet is knowledgeable in many subjects and stays up late to watch Nightline, Frontline and Nova.

When she is not at work, she reads, works on suduko puzzles, drives around running errands (sometimes for her sister) and cleans. Her all-time favorite activity is reading. She likes to read about brain science because, “it’s a fascinating subject and it helps me understand myself and others.”

Janet sets goals and works towards achieving those goals daily. Her dream is to go to massage therapy school. The film, “For Once In My Life,” inspired her to believe that if she works hard enough, she can accomplish her goal. She encourages others to see the film because it would change their perceptions and attitudes towards people with disabilities.

Janet was part of a panel that answered audience questions after the film screening.

Fun facts about Janet:

  • Her favorite food is chocolate, especially Russell Stover chocolates.
  • She also enjoys a thick, juicy steak.
  • She loves to listen to John Denver.
  • Before going to bed, she likes to watch Jay Leno.
  • She enjoys spending time with her husband who is currently working on an e-book, hoping it will be published!
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Meet Tierra Scott

We’re proud to count Tierra Scott in our ranks here at Goodwill Omaha. Tierra came to us as a Partnership participant looking to turn her life around, and now she’s one of our Adult Career Specialists helping people in the Omaha area get back into the workforce.

Tierra was featured in a Goodwill Industries International “My Story” podcast earlier this week, talking about her path from being a directionless youth to a successful professional.

I had started hanging with the wrong crowds and my mother saw that it was only going to lead me to a life failure. She sat me down, talked to me and told me I need to get myself together and really figure out what I want my life to be. I didn’t know what I really wanted to do, but I figured I needed to do something.

When I first came to Goodwill, I was unemployed. My case manger Kristin and other staff members stayed on me making sure I was doing what I needed to do; it kind of felt like having an extended family. Kristin took the time to get to know me and what I liked to figure out what areas I would be successful in.

I completed the program in 2008 and was excited since I had successfully completed training, work experience, and found permanent employment. I felt my life was going in the right direction and had stayed in contact with Kristin. I continued to go see her every so often but about six months later I found myself unemployed and felt like I was back to square one. I collected unemployment, but it was running out. I remembered my friend Kristin…

Listen to or read the rest of Tierra’s story at goodwill.org.

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A Month of Erin Wearin’ Goodwill – Week 4

My month of wearing Goodwill came to a close! I broke my goal of not purchasing new items from Goodwill just once, and that was to buy a necklace for an Employee Annual Dinner. I decided that the dinner was a special occasion, and celebrating with a necklace from Goodwill was the right thing to do. I’m now back to wearing any of the items in my closet but the first two days of April I wore… you guessed it, Goodwill. Here are my final outfits from March:

Ah, the old dress as a shirt trick again. Goodwill skirts are perfect to pair with those dresses that are just a little too short for the office.

Tom, our lead custodian, said my favorite dress made me look like a kindergarten teacher. I didn’t think there was anything wrong with that, so I played along and read him a book. Instead of going down for a nap after the story was over, he decided to go back to work. Probably a smart move.

This week brought us the second coming of the Employee Annual Dinner (the first try was cancelled due to a snow storm). I got comfortable in my polka dot shirt and arranged a seating chart for all 700 guests. Oh, how I love our marker board wall.

Here was a sewing challenge that just didn’t turn out as I had hoped. I tried and tried to take in a dress 6 sizes too big for me, but I just couldn’t make it fit. Eventually I found myself taking the scissors to the middle of the dress and making a skirt in a fraction of the time I spent working on the dress. I ended up with a lot of extra material, and you just may see than in a future outfit post!

This dress does nothing but bring happiness. I bought it at Reserve: Goodwill in the Market on a sunny day last May, then wore it to my brother’s college graduation. A happy occasion indeed. This month, I wore it to our Town Hall meeting and Rita and I could barely contain our excitement.

My final outfit in my month of wearing Goodwill was my Annual Dinner dress. This was a challenge that did end up close to what I wanted. The dress was originally mid-calf length, with a billowy kaftan style top that had sleeves past my elbows. I shortened it, and turned the top into a fitted, sleeveless style. The dress and necklace came from our 78th & Dodge store, and I carried a beaded clutch (not pictured) from Reserve.

Week 1 | Week 2 | Week 3 | Week 4

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