Mission In Action: YouthBuild Omaha AmeriCorps Building Community

Goodwill is proud to administer the YouthBuild Omaha program in partnership with AmeriCorps. YouthBuild supports young adults as they conduct community service while pursuing their GED. Participants engage in construction skills training and have the opportunity to receive various professional certifications as they complete their community service requirements.

Members of this year’s YouthBuild class have being busy working to fulfill their AmeriCorps-required community service hours. Since joining the class this fall, the last few months have presented some opportunities outside the usual construction training volunteer opportunities.
In October several participants helped with Goodwill’s first Halloween Trunk-or-Treat community event. Those who participated did an excellent job of making the guests feel welcome while handing out Halloween candy to trick-or-treaters.

In November a group of YouthBuild participants assisted Heartland Hope Mission assembling and distributing Thanksgiving gift baskets. They were directed to gather donated food items from around the facility and prepare the basket. The volunteers were friendly and enjoyed interacting with the clients as they helped them to their vehicles.

Family Housing Advisory hosted various volunteer opportunities throughout December. YouthBuild decorated their Lake Point Center for the annual Christmas in the Village event. Keep Omaha Beautiful provided supplies for participants to clean up the streets before and after the event. They also stuffed envelopes for community members to learn about potential upcoming changes to the tax code.

It has become tradition for YouthBuild to model ugly holiday sweaters on The Morning Blend talk show. Several participants took the opportunity to strut their stuff for the camera. They enjoyed getting a behind-the-scenes look at the news studio and interacting with the hosts on air.

Through these special projects, daily GED classes and construction skills training, participants show professionalism and a dedication to developing themselves while helping their community. The YouthBuild team looks forward to what is to come in 2018!

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Work Experience Students Support Goodwill’s Retail Stores

Goodwill’s Work Experience program provides young adults with disabilities the opportunity to gain exposure to a work situation in a supportive environment. Eight Goodwill locations host students for a few hours a day during the school year. Most students work in one of Goodwill’s retail stores, but some students are able to get a behind-the-scenes look at Goodwill’s Retail Operations Center.

The Retail Operations Center at 72nd and F Street houses Goodwill’s logistics operations to help the retail stores operate smoothly. The Retail Operations Center services all of Goodwill’s 15 retail stores, donation pods, Attended Donation Centers and community donation drives.

My'Kel tagging donated clothesNew this year, Work Experience students utilize five new hanging and sorting stations. When Goodwill receives donated goods through community donation drives, donation pods, and Attended Donation Centers, those goods need to be sorted, tagged and hung up. However, the Retail Operations Center is not a retail store and therefore does not always have staff to complete these tasks. That’s where Work Experience students are able to step in and help out.

 

Work Experience students are trained to follow the same procedures for hanging and sorting as employees in Goodwill’s retail stores. Clothes arrive in gaylords (large cardboard boxes). Then the students sort the clothes, hang them on the rack and follow guidelines to determine the appropriate tag to attach.

Zach selecting price tags

Once the clothes are tagged and hung, they are either sent out to a Goodwill retail store or stored for later use. The extra help of Work Experience students at the Retail Operations Center allows Goodwill’s retail stores to remain fully stocked even if donations slow at that location. Their support allows Goodwill’s retail operations to keep running smoothly.

Work Experience students Zach, Mikeala and My’Kel enjoy working in the hanging and sorting stations because it keeps them busy and helps the day move fast. Work Experience trainer Patty explains, “This is a terrific job for our students. They are learning skills that are directly applicable to any retail job as well as basic employment skills like following guidelines and procedures.”

Goodwill’s Work Experience program is proud to support the work of Goodwill’s retail stores while providing students exposure to a work environment. Next time you shop at Goodwill, remember that the clothing you purchase may have been sorted and tagged by a Work Experience student.

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Mayor’s Proclamation Supports National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM)

Today Goodwill Industries in partnership with the Council Bluffs Chamber of Commerce Ambassadors hosted a special ribbon cutting and mayoral proclamation to celebrate the month of October as National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM).

The event was held at the Omni Center in Council Bluffs and brought together more than 100 community members to celebrate NDEAM. High school students from Goodwill’s Work Experience program served refreshments as guests gathered for the presentation.

The program began with introductions from the Council Bluff’s Ambassadors through the Chamber of Commerce. Dozens of Ambassadors representing a wide variety of businesses and organizations stood in support of the proclamation.

Council Bluffs Mayor, Matt Walsh thanked the crowd for their support of NDEAM. Mayor Walsh emphasized the importance of work in defining oneself. Citizens with disabilities also need the opportunity to work and contribute their skills to the community.

Mayor Walsh presented the official proclamation affirming Council Bluff’s commitment to building an inclusive community for all citizens. The city recognizes the month of October as an opportunity to raise awareness on disability issues throughout the community.

Next Dan Koenig, representing the Council Bluffs Chamber of Commerce, explained the Chamber’s responsibility to educate businesses about the importance of inclusive hiring practices. He highlighted the impact of programs like Work Experience at Goodwill, which provides high school students with disabilities the opportunity to develop employment skills in a supportive environment.

Goodwill's Work Experience and Staff

Brad Krause, owner of Grease Monkey in Council Bluffs spoke about his experience working with representatives from Iowa Vocational Rehabilitation to employ individuals with disabilities. He explained the positive impact that disabled employees have had on his business.

Goodwill Work Experience participant, Noah Wegener spoke about the importance of work in his life. This is Noah’s third year in the Work Experience Program and he’s learned many tips to being successful on the job; including hard work, being responsible and being nice to your boss. Noah is proud to be able to work and contribute to his household. He looks forward to the future and gaining more independence as he works toward his goals.

Goodwill is proud to bring together many community members committed to bringing awareness to issues for employees with disabilities. Visit our interactive calendar HERE for more information and events to celebrate NDEAM. Check out our Facebook to view a video from this morning’s event (click the Videos tab on our Facebook page).

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The Inside Scoop from a Regular Goodwill WearHouse Shopper

If you’ve never been to the Goodwill WearHouse store, you’re in for a truly unique experience! The WearHouse features a wide variety of items found in traditional thrift stores but it’s all priced by the pound. And the more you purchase the cheaper the price – a thrift shopper’s dream! New merchandise is brought out regularly in large bins so grab a cart and dive in.

Regular Goodwill WearHouse customer Kathe first discovered the WearHouse while thrift shopping with her daughter in South Omaha. Kathe’s daughter enjoyed shopping at thrift stores off 36th and Q Street but Kathe was looking for a new place to shop. She noticed the Goodwill WearHouse on the same block and was immediately hooked.

Kathe loves the thrill of the hunt and there is no place like the Goodwill WearHouse to discover the unexpected. Kathe keeps a keen eye on the merchandise bins as they are rolled out onto the sales floor brimming with potential treasures. She doesn’t hesitate to dive in and hunt for the next big find. Many of the items that Kathe purchases at the WearHouse become listings on her eBay page. She’s sold everything from sewing patterns and craft supplies to Christmas ornaments and Halloween costumes. Every item starts with a 99¢ opening bid and she enjoys watching bidders try to outbid each other. The most unique item she has sold on eBay from the WearHouse was a simple plastic cookie cutter that said “Jesus loves me” – it sold for over $80! Kathe isn’t sure what made that specific cookie cutter so desirable but she hopes to find the next hidden gem at the WearHouse.

Kathe - regular shopper at Goodwill WearHouse

Kathe – regular shopper at Goodwill WearHouse

From the time Kathe became a regular shopper at the original South Omaha location, she has enjoyed getting to know WearHouse Manager Shantel. When it was announced that the WearHouse would be relocated to 72nd and F Street, Shantel was adamant that Kathe needed to visit the new location and continue to shop at the WearHouse. Kathe appreciates that Shantel is very conscious of every shopper’s safety while in the store. There are often dozens of shoppers hoping to get the first look at items in a new bin and Shantel makes sure that everyone stays safe. Kathe especially enjoys shopping at Goodwill to support the mission of eliminating unemployment for those that want to work. She appreciates the people that work hard every day to operate Goodwill.

Kathe’s advice for a first time shopper at the WearHouse is to keep an open mind – you never know what you’re going to find! She recognizes that first time shoppers might be confused by the per-pound pricing structure that decreases the more you buy, but the staff at the WearHouse are always there to help. If you’re looking for a thrilling shopping experience visit the WearHouse!

Click here to visit the WearHouse webpage >>>

 

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