Participant Spotlight: Meet Dillon Ruby

Dillon Ruby’s story includes a turn that is unfortunately too common in the lives of young people looking to change their situation – distractions got in the way and he stopped pursuing his goals.

But Dillon was determined not to give up, and in the past month, he was recognized at the Bellevue Public Schools Adult High School Graduation Ceremony and promoted to the job he had been working toward.

Dillon had bounced around from different communities, first in Bellevue, then to Blair and back to Bellevue. His mother had battled with health problems, so he dropped out of high school after the 10th grade to work and help support her.

“After a few months, we got back on track with bills,” Dillon said. “And I really wanted to get my GED, because I knew that if I didn’t get it then, I wouldn’t get it at all.”

Dillon had heard about the workforce development Partnership program, and he signed up in April 2010. He went straight to work studying for his GED and got a part time job working at a Goodwill store.

“When he started in Partnership, he was doing really well,” said Career Specialist Byron Olsen. Things were looking good.

But as Olsen explained, Dillon began to get distracted by other GED students, and before long, he abandoned his GED classes.

“It was hard at first,” Dillon said. “I didn’t stay focused and I kind of gave up.”

It would be approximately a full year before he would return to his studies, but Dillon decided to come back in the spring of 2011 and pick up where he left off.

“When he came back, he was really focused,” Olsen said.

“I told Byron I really wanted to go back,” Dillon said. “That GED was the last thing I had to get. I knew.”

That work paid off, because by June of that year, Dillon had completed his final GED test, and he was hired at Modern Equipment, Inc. in September.

Dillon took a job on the paint line, but he had his eyes on a welder position. He stayed after hours to learn welding on his own time so he would be better prepared to move up in the company.

“And just about two weeks ago, I took a welding test, and I passed,” he said.

Since then, he was promoted and reached his goal of becoming a welder.

“I really like the Partnership program because Byron didn’t just sign me up and leave me,” Dillon said. “He kept checking on me and kept me motivated.”

Congratulations, Dillon! You’ve proved it’s never too late to get back on track to meet your goals!

Christel Hurley’s Story / Special Needs Planning


Readers of Goodwill Industries International’s blog have just gotten a chance to meet someone we’ve been honored to know for nearly 18 years.

Christel Hurley came to Goodwill Omaha in 1994 as a part of our AbilityOne program, starting out washing rags at Offutt Air Force Base. Since that time, she’s grown as an employee, earning more responsibility, promotions and accolades. In 2009, she was Goodwill Omaha’s Marco / Meyer Achiever of the Year, and she has also been recognized regionally by AbilityOne for her growth and achievement.

In a recent My Story post at, Christel and her father, Earl Hurley, shared some thoughts on Christel’s development and the services Goodwill offers.

My concern is, does the government want us to keep these folks on the dole or do they want to let them to be productive citizens and work in our workforce and end up paying taxes like everyone else? I would hope that they do. In my opinion, over the years the people who end up getting cut first whenever there is a government cut back happens to be the developmentally disabled. The people who have low esteem, low education and people who are just down on their luck — the people that Goodwill serves.

She wants to work. She’s been very good with her hands, and she does like to work. There’s no ifs ands or buts about it. Of course we’ve been worried about her when we pass on, and one of those things we have been concerned about is keeping her employed. Well so far, Goodwill has kept that employment.

Earl Hurley raises an important concern for families of individuals with a disability — how will my family member be cared for when I’m no longer able?

Goodwill and The Andrew Benjamin Group are holding a free educational seminar on planning for families with a member with special needs on Wednesday, June 13th. The topics will include government programs, developmental disabilities services, guardianship, special needs trusts, letters of intent and other planning.

Join us on June 13th from 10:30 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. at Goodwill’s Benson Park Plaza at 72nd & Ames. For more information, please contact Jennifer Croudy at 402.231.1926.

Congratulations to Goodwill partners RDG Planning & Design!

It’s no accident that Goodwill Omaha stores have such a distinct look about them. The iconic towers, the bright open spaces, the environmentally friendly materials — they’re all the result of a long partnership with Omaha’s RDG Planning & Design.

And at last month’s IIDA Interior Design Banquet, RDG’s amazing work was recognized, as the agency took home four awards — three of which were for work with Goodwill Omaha. Our Benson Park Plaza headquarters won Best in Show!

Congratulations to the RDG Planning & Design team! Below you can see a slideshow of their submission on the prize-winning Benson Park Plaza building.

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Job fair puts skills training (and people) to work

Job seekers speak with representatives from several area businesses at the "Employment: Expanding Our Opportunities" job fair.

Toni Simmons believes in second chances. As a trainer for Goodwill’s Employability and Life Skills program at the Sarpy County Probation Center, Toni works to help people on probation find their place in the workforce. Participants work with Toni on life skills training, preparing resumes, mock interviews, and searching for jobs. After employment has been found, they continue to follow-up with her to assure the new job is going smoothly.

As another resource for her participants, Toni helped organize the “Employment: Expanding Our Opportunities” job fair on Wednesday, May 16.

She organized the event to be held at the probation center so she could observe the participants’ interactions with employers. Even if the participants didn’t land a job from Wednesday’s job fair, Toni can help them learn from the experience and continue to build job skills.

The job fair brought employers Sitel, Job Source USA, West, Hilton, Gallup and Creighton University. LaQuela Weathers, the “Coupon Queen,” offered advice on using coupons and checking store sales to save money. In just two hours, 71 job seekers made their way through the fair.

KETV stopped by and talked to a couple job seekers. Learn more about some of them at

Job fair tomorrow!

Goodwill Industries and the Sarpy County Probation Office are hosting the “Employment: Expanding our Opportunities” job fair tomorrow — Wednesday, May 16, 2012. The event will be held at the Sarpy County Day Report Center at 7511 South 36th Street in Bellevue, NE from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m.

The job fair is open to the public.

Individuals are encouraged to dress appropriately and bring their resumes as some interviews will be conducted during the event.

Companies participating in the event include: UPS, KwikShop, Sitel, Job Source USA, WEST, Hilton, Gallup and Creighton University.

LaQuela Weathers, “The Coupon Queen”, will also be on-hand to share her secrets to couponing success.

For more information contact Toni Simmons at 402-593-1523 or Julie Micek at 402-593-4416.

Friday link roundup! Balconies, bikes, bottles and things that don’t start with B.

Here are a handful of links to inspire you this weekend.

Have a great weekend!

Garden upcycling

I get so excited when it’s gardening time. Ever since I decided a few years ago that I wanted to take a stab at gardening, I’ve started getting excited about it earlier each year and subsequently allowed my garden to take over more of my back yard. First I built an elevated garden in the back of the yard a few years ago. Then I added a separate squash and zucchini satellite garden last year. This spring, Garden II has expanded to include all elliptical produce (meaning I added cucumbers over there too) and I’m thinking of claiming a flower garden for my broccoli (Garden III).

This love of gardening and my ever-expanding arsenal of crops means that I need a good way to identify my plants and a good way to start them.

One of Sustainablog’s 5 DIY indoor gardening projects is to use a phonebook as a seedbed. They’re biodegradable, they’ll help your seedlings grow straight, and — best of all — no matter how much you wish otherwise, someone is going to bring you a new one every year!

So how do you remember what you planted? Sure, if I wait long enough, I’ll be able to figure out which ones are the tomatoes and which ones are the spinach, but TreeHugger has put together a tutorial on using old drink cups to make plant tags. And while it doesn’t have the legitimacy of an accompanying online tutorial, I also use old plastic drink cups — bottoms cut off — to protect my seedlings from birds. The rabbits in my yard are either too polite or too dumb to go eat the things in my garden, but I’ve found that my neighborhood birds see seedlings and think “I should pluck that.” So by placing a drink cup upside down with the bottom cut out, the little guys can get their sun and water while also being shielded from the birds.

It’s not too late to plant your garden, so grab your empty fast food cups and phonebook and get started!

Catch me writin’ nerdy – volume 2

Every once in a while, we here at The GoodTimes blog stumble upon some published research that we think might be of interest to you socially / environmentally / sustainably minded readers. All three of the following papers are published by the Social Sciences Research Network and provided for free.

From Growth to Green Growth — A Framework

Green growth is about making growth processes resource-efficient, cleaner and more resilient without necessarily slowing them. This paper aims at clarifying these concepts in an analytical framework and at proposing foundations for green growth. The green growth approach proposed here is based on (1) focusing on what needs to happen over the next 5-10 years before the world gets locked into patterns that would be prohibitively expensive and complex to modify and (2) reconciling the short and the long term, by offsetting short-term costs and maximizing synergies and economic co-benefits. This, in turn, increases the social and political acceptability of environmental policies. This framework identifies channels through which green policies can potentially contribute to economic growth. However, only detailed country- and context-specific analyses for each of these channels could reach firm conclusion regarding their actual impact on growth. Finally, the paper discusses the policies that can be implemented to capture these co-benefits and environmental benefits. Since green growth policies pursue a variety of goals, they are best served by a combination of instruments: price-based policies are important but are only one component in a policy tool-box that can also include norms and regulation, public production and direct investment, information creation and dissemination, education and moral suasion, or industrial and innovation policies.

The Promise and Problems of Pricing Carbon: Theory and Experience

Because of the global commons nature of climate change, international cooperation among nations will likely be necessary for meaningful action at the global level. At the same time, it will inevitably be up to the actions of sovereign nations to put in place policies that bring about meaningful reductions in the emissions of greenhouse gases. Due to the ubiquity and diversity of emissions of greenhouse gases in most economies, as well as the variation in abatement costs among individual sources, conventional environmental policy approaches, such as uniform technology and performance standards, are unlikely to be sufficient to the task. Therefore, attention has increasingly turned to market-based instruments in the form of carbon-pricing mechanisms. We examine the opportunities and challenges associated with the major options for carbon pricing: carbon taxes, cap-and-trade, emission reduction credits, clean energy standards, and fossil fuel subsidy reductions.

Next Generation Recycling and Waste Reduction: Building on the Success of Pennsylvania’s 1988 Legislation

The Municipal Waste Planning, Recycling, and Waste Reduction Act (Act 101 of 1988) keeps millions of tons of materials out of landfills every year. It supports a multi-billion dollar industry that provides tens of thousands of jobs. It also probably affects human environmental behavior more than any other statute in state history. And it reduces greenhouse gas emissions at the same time because of the materials and energy that are saved.

Yet the program is now rudderless and drifting. While the Act contains specific goals, those goals have either been met or ignored, and no new goals have been set. It is impossible to say with a reasonable level of confidence whether recycling of Act 101 materials has increased or decreased over the past decade, let alone by how much. Per capita waste disposal is about the same now as it was when the Act was passed, and was much higher before the current economic downturn.

This Article is a collaboration with law students who learned to “reduce, reuse, recycle” in elementary school. They are part of the first generation who grew up under Act 101.

This Article recommends that Pennsylvania set new and more ambitious recycling and waste reduction goals, use accurate and accessible data to measure progress, and once again give priority to public education on recycling and waste reduction. This Article also contains many specific recommendations for reducing the amount of waste that is disposed of, and for increasing the amount of material that is recycled. These include expansion of the municipalities required to recycle as well as the materials to be included in recycling, greater emphasis on commercial and institutional recycling, requiring the use of “pay-as-you-throw” systems, use of the grant program to support innovations in recycling and waste reduction, and creation of an honor roll to recognize companies for their contributions to recycling and waste reduction. Finally, it recommends stable and permanent financial support for the program.

These recommendations would lead to a more dynamic and effective program – a program more capable of turning waste into economic opportunity and job creation. These recommendations provide a platform for a serious conversation about the future direction of this program. To ensure that the opportunities of this program are fully available to the next generation of Pennsylvanians, including children who are now in elementary school, that conversation needs to begin now.

Rep. Lee Terry visits Offutt Air Force Base

by Toria Owsley

AbilityOne received a special visitor last month!

Representative Lee Terry visited Offutt Air Force Base’s onsite day care Friday, April 6, 2012 which houses Goodwill’s very own AbilityOne custodial crew.

This visit was scheduled for several reasons — first of all, to meet and greet the hardworking AbilityOne employees as well as the managers and team leads, and secondly, to encourage Rep. Terry to become an AbilityOne Champion. An AbilityOne Champion is a federal government employee who fully believes in the mission of the AbilityOne Program and is doing everything in his or her power to provide employment opportunities for people with disabilities.

Rep. Terry visited with all of the AbilityOne Community Rehabilitation Programs in Omaha and Bellevue, which include the Black Hills Program on Offutt Air Force Base as well. His visit gave him the opportunity to hear firsthand about the AbilityOne Program and how successful our employees have been in the program.

Rep. Terry gained valuable knowledge about the AbilityOne Program, which we hope will fuel his fire to advocate for the program in the near future.
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The May issue of The Clothes Line is now ready to download!

In this month’s issue:

  • We hear all about how the latest Drive for Drives went…
  • We meet Jennifer Croudy, our newest Manager of the Quarter, and Heather Carrico, our latest Employee of the Month…
  • We hear about a potentially scary incident at the Denney Building where safety prevailed…
  • And we learn about the success of the Denney Building’s recycling services…
  • We find out about the expansion of Goodwill Omaha’s grounds maintenance services…
  • YouthBuild students weigh in on a classic “men vs women” debate…
  • Another exciting word search…
  • Birthdays, anniversaries and new hires…
  • …and more!

Visit our Publications page to download your copy today!