Now through Dec. 31, Goodwill Omaha shoppers can donate their change to help others in the community who are experiencing hardship due to COVID-19. That’s right — it’s our annual “Round It Up for United Way” campaign, which is raising awareness and money to support United Way of the Midlands (UWM) and the Fremont Area United Way in their efforts to help people in Omaha and surrounding communities.
The campaign kicked off on Nov. 1 and allows shoppers at Goodwill retail stores to choose to “round up” their purchase totals to the next dollar at the checkout. We’ll donate round-it-up raised at our stores in Fremont and Blair to the Fremont Area United Way, and we’re donating money raised at our other locations to United Way of the Midlands.
“This year has been tough for most people, but it’s been especially difficult for those who have been impacted by COVID-19,” said Tobi Mathouser, president and CEO of Goodwill Omaha. “So many people lost jobs, either permanently or temporarily, in March, when many businesses had to close due to COVID. Several months later, some people who were furloughed or expected their layoffs to be temporary learned their positions were eliminated because employers experienced financial and economic losses due to COVID.”
UWM reports that, since March, the Nebraska/Iowa 211 Helpline has experienced a 142% increase in call volumes over last year, despite the high volumes the Helpline saw during the floods in spring 2019. As you likely know, COVID-19 has created an entirely new set of challenges, which United Way organizations are trying to keep up with.
For example, UWM modified its community investment process to quickly move dollars to programs that meet the community’s most pressing needs and to better respond to the community’s rapidly evolving needs.
“Goodwill holds campaigns like this throughout the year to benefit other nonprofits in our communities. It’s a way we can give back to the communities and partners who show so much support for Goodwill and our employment programs,” Mathouser continued. “Our shoppers tend to be very generous, and our round-it-up campaigns can raise a surprising amount of money. We love doing it. To us, giving back is just part of what it means to be a good steward of the community.”
By Jessica Bertsch, Marketing Assistant, Goodwill Omaha
Need a fun idea for the holidays? A white elephant gift exchange is sure to please — it’s fun, festive, inexpensive and unique. These events are also referred to as a Yankee Swap or a Dirty Santa.
My personal favorite thing about white elephant gift exchanges is that they never have the same outcome. Our family always uses a couple themes to make it even more fun. Last year, we had three themes: Goodwill Finds, Something Shiny and International. You could just use one theme or try to include all three.
The basic rules are as follows:
- Each person brings one wrapped gift to add to the gift pool.
- Players draw numbers to determine the order they will choose gifts.
- Everyone sits so that they can see all of the gifts.
- The first player selects a gift from the pool and opens it.
- The next person and all subsequent people can choose to either pick and unwrap a gift from the pool or steal an open gift from someone who has already chosen.
There is usually a rule that a gift can only be stolen a certain number of times. We usually do a limit of three times. Otherwise, this game could go on for a long time. The possibilities are endless and you can easily put your own twist on the game.
By Tara Sandle, Director of Contracts, Goodwill Omaha
This year marks not only the 30th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), but also the 75th anniversary of National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM), which offers people, organizations and legislators an opportunity to raise awareness about disability employment issues and to recognize the impact of individuals with disabilities across the country.
The history of NDEAM traces back to 1945, when Congress enacted a law declaring the first week in October each year “National Employ the Physically Handicapped Week.” In 1962, the word “physically” was removed to acknowledge the employment needs and contributions of individuals with all types of disabilities. In 1988, Congress expanded the week to a month and changed the name to National Disability Employment Awareness Month.
Goodwill Omaha continues to educate the communities we serve on disability employment issues and our commitment to an inclusive work environment. To contribute to this monthlong national campaign, we’re highlighting our AbilityOne program and participants on our social media pages.
We Focus on Abilities
Goodwill Omaha has been providing job opportunities to individuals with disabilities since 1989. Currently, we have 110 individuals employed in the AbilityOne program, with 85 who have identified as having a disability.
AbilityOne is a federally mandated program that uses set-aside funds to provide employment opportunities to individuals with disabilities. Per the program requirements, 75% of our AbilityOne labor hours need to be completed by these i
ndividuals. As a member nonprofit within the AbilityOne program, Goodwill Omaha works with SourceAmerica to provide these employment opportunities.
Under the AbilityOne program, employees are paid the federal wage determination rate. Oftentimes, these rates are higher than minimum wage. In addition, every AbilityOne employee receives health and welfare fringe benefits for every hour they work on the contract.
Goodwill Omaha is a proud supporter of the AbilityOne program and continues to contribute to the program by employing individuals with disabilities. We’re also committed to creating an inclusive work environment that includes people of all races, gender identity, culture and ability.
“Ensuring that America’s workplaces continue to include and accommodate people with disabilities will be an important part of our economic rebound,” U.S. Secretary of Labor Eugene Scalia said in a June 2020 U.S. Department of Labor news release. “Looking ahead, the Department will remain focused on the policies that led to a strong economy and record-low unemployment rates for persons with disabilities prior to the pandemic. A vigorous economic rebound and job growth will, alongside the Americans with Disabilities Act, increase access and opportunity for Americans with disabilities.”
Our Employees Are Essential
This year, SourceAmerica’s theme for NDEAM is “Always Essential.” From performing custodial services at federal buildings to providing postal services at Offutt Air Force Base, Goodwill Omaha’s AbilityOne employees have demonstrated their dedication and commitment during COVID-19. Their work is a reminder that people with disabilities are always essential.