Goodwill Omaha 2012 Employee of the Year Nominee: Victor “Tony” Hull

One breezy spring morning, I stopped by 50th & Grover to meet April’s Employee of the Month and 2012 Employee of the Year nominee and see what work at Goodwill’s busiest attended donation center (ADC) was like.

Two donors pulled up just as I did, and Victor Hull got out of his truck to help them unload their donations. They must have been regulars, because when I told them Victor was the Employee of the Month, they agreed that he deserved the award.

After they left, Victor started telling me how he knows many of the people in the neighborhood and surrounding businesses. On cue, a lady passed by on a walk.
“There’s Joyce,” Victor told me. “She goes on a walk every day. Hi Joyce!” Joyce waved back.

Victor tells me how important it is to get to know people and treat everyone with respect. He met his girlfriend of a year because she works at the café in the shopping center. He’s moving to a house near the ADC soon thanks to a lead from the manager at Bag ‘N Save. He even has regulars who stop by just to say hello and to bring him cookies.

Victor says he has practiced his relationship-building skills for years, first working in a warehouse and later driving a shuttle for a hotel downtown. He loves that his job at Goodwill allows him to meet such a variety of people.

In addition to taking donations and passing out receipts, Victor takes pride in keeping the ADC area clean. He sweeps up broken glass, picks up trash and makes sure any graffiti that finds its way onto the truck finds it way off.

He likes the location and wants to make sure Goodwill can stay there. In fact, he is part of the reason why the trailer is located where it is.

About the time the lease was ending on the previous location of the ADC (just one lot over), Victor happened to be talking to the landlord of Bag ‘N Save and figured out he was also connected to the current location. Plans were made, and the trailer moved over one lot. Again, it’s all about building relationships.

Victor found his job through the former Goodwill program Projects With Industry. His case worker, Tim Suelter, helped him apply for the job. Neither one realized at first that it was a position at Goodwill. Victor was interviewed and started right away. He has been a Goodwill employee since December 2010.

His supervisor, Shirley Hall, notes that he is known for his excellent customer service. She says a donor has even taken the time to call her to say how friendly and helpful Victor is.

Victor’s trailers are always packed to capacity, but with care so that nothing will break during transportation. He helps train new trailer attendants, and he goes above and beyond to make sure all donors have an exceptional Goodwill experience.

Victor enjoys his job and appreciates his coworkers and supervisors (he even ordered pizza for them one day!), but perhaps not as much as everyone at Goodwill appreciates his hard work. Congratulations to our April Employee of the Month and 2012 Employee of the Year Nominee!

The Goodwill Employee of the Year is selected by a vote of Goodwill employees and will be announced at the 2012 Goodwill Annual Awards Dinner on February 9.

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Goodwill Omaha 2012 Employee of the Year Nominee: Heather Carrico

To put our Employee of the Month in perspective, we’re going to have to go all the way back to Aristotle. That’s right. Aristotle. The father of Western Philosophy has something to say about Heather Carrico.

Aristotle was one of those guys who dabbled in just about everything. He studied anything from poetry to ethics to zoology. And while he was learning about all these things, he was dropping little quotable gems all over the place. The guy was a quote machine.

So that brings us to Heather Carrico, the March 2012 Employee of the Month here at Goodwill, and now a 2012 Employee of the Year nominee. Heather embodies one Aristotle quote in particular.

“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.”

Heather is a living example of this. She has been working at Goodwill since 2000, and those of us who have watched her in action know that Heather’s consistency is what makes her great. She brings the same outstanding level of care to all the people she serves.

Heather works in the Customer Connect program as a case manager. But she’s been helping people here at Goodwill in a variety of roles through the years. She began in the START program, helping individuals with disabilities get back to work. That job morphed into Employment First, helping those receiving government aid get back on their feet. She then left the organization briefly back in 2007, when Goodwill lost the Employment First contract. But she returned soon after to help start the Projects With Industry program with her current supervisor, Customer Connect Coordinator Ginny Powell.

About a year later, Heather was picked to start the READY program. Then two years after that, in October of 2011, she came to Customer Connect, where she continues to shine as an example of excellence in our Employment & Training division.

As Ginny puts it, “Heather has gone above and beyond while our program is short-staffed. She has taken over teaching both of the Customer Connect classes while the other case manager has been on military leave. She also has perfect file reviews while continuing her superior level of service to her clients.”

When she’s not going over and above at Goodwill, Heather is a busy mom and wife. Her two children, Zoey and Zachery, keep Heather and her husband Doug plenty busy.

Congratulations, Heather. Aristotle would be proud.

The Goodwill Employee of the Year is selected by a vote of Goodwill employees and will be announced at the 2012 Goodwill Annual Awards Dinner on February 9.

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Goodwill Omaha 2012 Employee of the Year Nominee: James Gullie

James Gullie works hard. But that’s not why he was our February 2012 Employee of the Month. He works late nights and comes to Benson Park Plaza (BPP) whenever needed. But that’s all in a normal week of work for James. What sets him apart is that, in a moment’s notice, James is willing to rise to the most random challenges.

For instance, last month a member of the floor crew was unable to work for a while because of health issues. James stepped in at the last minutes and covered the shift. That day James worked from 5:30am Saturday morning to 5:30am Sunday morning. Then he came back Sunday evening to finish the job.

I think we can all agree this is almost ridiculous. Working all day Saturday and following it up with a Sunday night floor-cleaning shift is akin to running a marathon or climbing a medium-sized mountain. It’s not for the faint of heart. James did it without batting an eye.

But that’s just what you can expect from our February employee of the month. James has been a key asset for our Commercial Services division ever since he started with the Retail Floor Crew in April 2008. He moved to the Custodial team at BPP in May of last year, and has proven to be a great fit in the months since.

James is quiet by nature. I asked him about the award. He said he was appreciative and said that he loves working for Goodwill. But he left the rest up to me.

Here’s what I can tell you about him. James is a smiling face that those of us in BPP look forward to seeing every day. He always asks how we’re doing. Always asks about our kids (if we have them). And always offers a kind word as he departs.

When he’s not at Goodwill, James likes to play pool on the weekends. I asked him where he likes to play. He replied “Everywhere.” Sounds like he might be a hustler. Look out. He also used to box professionally, so be advised. Don’t get too lippy with him.

For our part, we want to congratulate James on winning the Employee of the Month Award and for now being a 2012 Employee of the Year nominee. It is well deserved and couldn’t go to a nicer guy. Of course we may just be saying that to stay on his good side.

Congratulations, James!

The Goodwill Employee of the Year is selected by a vote of Goodwill employees and will be announced at the 2012 Goodwill Annual Awards Dinner on February 9.

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Goodwill Omaha 2012 Employee of the Year Nominee: Robert Popejoy

If you’ve ever been to the WearHouse, you know that it can be a little overwhelming. Bins are constantly being shuffled around. Miscellaneous furniture lines the walls. Customers rush through the aisles to get the best finds before someone else snatches them up.

In the middle of that chaos is Robert Popejoy. He is the employee that customers are excited to see at the store. A customer can ask Robert for a specific item, and he will be able to say if the WearHouse has it, and where it could be found.

Robert switches out bins with a sense of urgency. He efficiently and effectively gets new merchandise out on the floor for customers to dive into.

Robert enjoys his job, and it shows. He is rarely without a smile, and always willing to help out any co-worker at the ROC. Robert also motivates the team to work harder and generate more sales to fund the mission.

This isn’t just with retail-related tasks. Robert has helped fix co-workers’ cars and given them rides to work.

Robert’s personal favorite thing to find at Goodwill is nice stereo equipment. He loves music and everything about it. In Robert’s opinion, a great night is spent in the backyard grilling and listening to some tunes.

He has four children and five grandchildren that he loves spending time with.

So if you’ve been to the WearHouse, you probably already know that Robert deserved to be our January 2012 Employee of the Month and now one of our Employee of the Year Nominees.

If you haven’t been, what are you waiting for?

The Goodwill Employee of the Year is selected by a vote of Goodwill employees and will be announced at the 2012 Goodwill Annual Awards Dinner on February 9.

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10 Valentine’s Day projects made from Goodwill finds

from A Night Owl

As part of her “Thrifty Thursday” series, Kimberly at the A Night Owl blog has a fun list of ten DIY Valentine’s Day projects made from Goodwill finds.

Hi friends! It’s Thrifty Thursday again, and since we’re in Valentines mode (have you been following along with the fabulous 14 Days of Valentines series?), I thought I would round up some fabulous projects that were done with items from Goodwill – or that could be from Goodwill! Let’s save those bucks this holiday season, but still decorate and celebrate in style!

The projects include a cupcake stand, Valentine’s mailboxes, a chandelier and Valentine’s Day teacups (seen at right).

Check out all ten at A Night Owl (including a plug for our very own Goodwill Valentine’s Day cards!).

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YouthBuild Omaha students spend National Day of Service renovating a home

YouthBuild students join GED Instructor Michael Anderson (far right) and Construction Trainer Norman Barnes (second from right) for the Day of Service volunteer project

As part of the National Day of Service on Monday, January 21st, more than 30 YouthBuild Omaha participants and staff volunteered their time to paint the interiors of three Abide Network homes in Omaha.

KETV Omaha was there:

Coordinator Miriam Blair said on a day dedicated to service, they’re teaming up with the Abide Network, an organization that renovates houses and takes people off the streets.

“A lot of these houses are going to low-income families, and we want them to be ready, to be tidy, to have the finishing touches,” Blair said.

The family has already moved into the home, but Blair said she hopes her students’ hard work makes it feel more like home.

“It may seem small to a lot of other people, but to the people that live here, it’s huge. It also helps them take pride in the house that they’re living in,” Blair said.

The students said it was their greatest work yet, a masterpiece they couldn’t have finished without each other.

Visit to read the full story and watch the video. And thanks to everyone who gave their time to help their community!

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AbilityOne Design Challenge update

Back in October, we told you about the workforce development AbilityOne Design Challenge, in which Goodwill Omaha teamed up with Omaha North High School to create a device to improve the lives of people with disabilities as part of a national NISH-sponsored competition.

Goodwill’s Federal Contracts Director Tobi Mathouser has worked with six North High students under the supervision of Engineering Technology faculty member Dr. Lee Kallstrom and Special Education Coordinator Doug Pospishil on the project, which kicked off in the fall of 2012.

The name of the team’s project is A Helping Hand, said Mathouser.

Students demonstrated the use of the robotic arm at Quality Living, Inc. to test the usability and get feedback from residents.

“It is a robotic arm attached to a wheelchair to allow individuals with severe disabilities or mobility restrictions to more easily access materials within their work station area,” she said.

Student Keon McKay said the group’s inspiration came from an interview with a wheelchair-bound student at Omaha North High School.

“We asked her, ‘What was your major obstacle when coming to school?’” he said. “Her response was entering and exiting the elevator, because she could not press the buttons.”

So the students set out to create a robotic arm that would not only assist with the buttons, but could also help people reach tight places and pick up fallen objects.

The students worked with Goodwill to get a better understanding of how to best address the needs of disabled individuals seeking employment or improving their workplace efficiency, Mathouser said.

She said that students developed a working prototype — solving an initial goal of the project — and tested it with residents at Quality Living Incorporated.

“Feedback from these individuals was used to improve and expand potential use of the robotic arm for more universal applications,” Mathouser said.

Exposing students to the experience of working with people with disabilities had been one of the initial goals she, Kallstrom and Pospishil shared from the outset.

“I knew we accomplished this goal when, during a recent paper-editing session, one student pointed out to me that they needed to use ‘people first’ language in the paper,” Mathouser said.

The students successfully submitted their project on January 14th. If they are selected as one of the top five teams, they will be asked to attend a February conference in Washington, D.C. to present their project.

You can watch the students’ video explaining the project, including footage from the development and assembly, by visiting YouTube.

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The new READY workshop schedule for Jan 17 – Feb 26 is posted

If you’re looking to improve your job readiness skills in a variety of categories, the READY workshops are for you. These free sessions are held on Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays from 1:00 p.m. – 3:00 p.m. at Heartland Workforce Solutions, 5752 Ames Avenue. The schedule for the next six weeks has just been posted at our READY page, but as promised yesterday, we’re sharing it here too.

Thursday, January 17, 2013 – Team Building
Monday, January 21, 2013 – Career Development
Tuesday, January 22, 2013 – Decision-Making
Thursday, January 24, 2013 – Digital Literacy
Monday, January 28, 2013 – Ethics
Tuesday, January 29, 2013 – Access Community Resources
Thursday, January 31, 2013 – Attitude
Monday, February 4, 2013 – Dependability
Tuesday, February 5, 2013 – Self-Determination
Thursday, February 7, 2013 – Motivation
Monday, February 11, 2013 – Organizational Skills
Tuesday, February 12, 2013 – Social Interaction
Thursday, February 14, 2013 – Self-Advocacy
Monday, February 18, 2013 – Money Management
Tuesday, February 19, 2013 – Stress/Anger Management
Thursday, February 21, 2013 – Time Management
Monday, February 25, 2013 – Customer Service
Tuesday, February 26, 2013 – Conflict Resolution

To sign up for any of these sessions, or if you have any questions, give us a call at 402.231.1978!

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This week’s READY workshops – Customer Service Relationships and Conflict Resolution

Every week, Goodwill Omaha presents free READY workshops designed to enhance your job readiness skills. The workshops are free and open to the public, and they are held from 1:00pm – 3:00pm at Heartland Workforce Solutions, 5752 Ames Avenue (in Ames Plaza, between 56th and 60th) in Omaha. To sign up, call 402-231-1978.

Here’s what we have coming up this week:

Monday January 14, 2013 – Customer Service Relationships
No matter what your job, customer service is going to come in to play at some point. Good customer service skills enhance the relationships between you and your customers, you and your coworkers and you and your superiors. In some way, we’re all serving somebody else at our jobs. When you can maximize this most important of soft skills, you can make the workplace more satisfying for everyone!

Tuesday January 15, 2013 – Conflict Resolution
We all encounter conflict at some point — what matters is how we respond to it. Are you someone who blows up and unleashes, or are you someone who can step back, examine the situation, and find a productive solution? Good conflict resolution skills determine whether an incident will be harmful or beneficial to your workplace, and it’s never too late to prepare yourself for when disagreement inevitably arises.

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This week’s READY workshops – Money Management, Stress / Anger Management and Time Management

Every week, Goodwill Omaha presents free READY workshops designed to enhance your job readiness skills. The workshops are free and open to the public, and they are held from 1:00pm – 3:00pm at Heartland Workforce Solutions, 5752 Ames Avenue (in Ames Plaza, between 56th and 60th) in Omaha. To sign up, call 402-231-1978.

Here’s what we have coming up this week:

Monday, January 7, 2013 – Money Management
What’s the fun in earning a paycheck if you can’t go spend it, right? Well it’s not that simple. We need to make sure we manage our money so that our bills are paid and needs are met and our future is considered. And then, once you’ve figured out how to be responsible with your money, spending a little on your own fun feels that much better.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013 – Stress/Anger Management
We all endure stress. It’s a natural part of life. But how we let that stress affect our lives is up to us. Acting out and letting stress affect how you interact with others in the workplace — not to mention your ability to do your own job — can be a major detriment to your continued employment. Learn techniques for managing stress and anger so that you don’t let your frustrations get in your way.

Thursday, January 10, 2013 – Time Management
Learn how to be responsible for deciding how much time to dedicate to different tasks to maximize your efficiency and productivity. Time management doesn’t just include your work tasks — learning good time management skills can help you maximize your personal time too!

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