Meet Victoria – YouthBuild AmeriCorps

Victoria Irby

Meet Victoria! She is an aspiring artist with a very creative personality. She is also a member of Goodwill’s YouthBuild AmeriCorps Program. YouthBuild is a national educational, leadership, development and occupational skill-training program for young adults. It offers paid construction training, paid education and learning, leadership training, and ongoing support after graduation to help build leaders in the community through service projects.

YouthBuild serves young adults, ages 16 to 24, who are underemployed or do not have a high school diploma, are interested in learning construction and helping to build/repair homes for low-income families, and are willing to commit to nine months of training and development. Victoria has been in the program for approximately six months and has come a long way. She is bettering herself by showing up, making herself available and being willing to learn every day as part of the program.

Before Goodwill, Victoria was staying at home most days dreading getting out of bed. It was hard for her to find the motivation she needed to thrive. She had no structure in place to see the value in her efforts to become the person she wanted to be. Victoria lacked the support to overcome difficult times. Without hope, fear of consequences is absent and it is something that Victoria frequently struggled with.

She learned about Goodwill’s services after she decided to go back to school. After about a year at Metropolitan Community College, she felt it was too complicated for her and was ready for something different. While spending time at the Omaha Public Schools Teacher Administration Center (TAC) building, she read about Goodwill’s YouthBuild AmeriCorps program.
Victoria said lack of motivation was one of the biggest obstacles to finding a job, becoming independent, and becoming the person she envisioned. Before joining YouthBuild AmeriCorps, she was distant from everyone and everything. Victoria stated, “I felt like I didn’t have a purpose. I would probably be dead or doing a lot of unhealthy stuff if it wasn’t for some of the training and support that Goodwill has provided.”

According to Victoria, the training that YouthBuild provides helped her learn the value of patience and not to doubt herself. Since joining the program her social skills have improved, she believes in herself and has the support in place to help fulfill her dreams. She is recognizing the changes in her behavior and can more easily identify her feelings and talk more openly with a level of trust and understanding that did not exist before. It’s also easier for her to identify things she enjoys doing. “I think more before speaking and I care about the feelings and opinions of others,” said Victoria. She is gaining valuable insight and knowledge to help better understand the nuances and intricacies of interpersonal communication and life.

 

Chinese Checkers game board Victoria made

Victoria’s passion for art and creativity will be incredible assets as she continues her journey to find her place in the world. She loves to listen to old school music, like Isaac Hayes and the Isley Brothers. Her taste in music is not surprising when you consider her gentle, calm and relaxed demeanor. Outside of YouthBuild AmeriCorps, Victoria enjoys dancing and doing math (not at the same time, of course), watching her favorite movie, Norbit, and sipping on a nice glass of her favorite beverage, apple juice. Victoria’s favorite holiday is Halloween and she dressed up as Michael Myers last year.

We are very proud of and happy for Victoria and the strides she has made to better herself both personally and professionally. She has embraced this opportunity and we are excited to see more of the beautiful things she will create! The YouthBuild AmeriCorps program has helped her come into her own and we are privileged to help share in her journey as she continues to learn about all the great things she is capable of.

Victoria’s multi-purpose décor creation

For more information regarding Goodwill’s services and programs, please visit https://www.goodwillomaha.org/employment-services/ or call us at (402) 341 – 4609.
If you or anyone you know could benefit from the YouthBuild AmeriCorps Program, please contact:
Norman Barnes – YouthBuild Manager
Goodwill Industries
4805 N. 72nd St., Omaha, NE 68134
Phone: (402) 522-7231
[email protected]

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Story Behind The Store – Meet Yahwietuor

Yahwietuor (yah-way-tour) Mok is a cashier at Goodwill’s Benson Park Plaza retail store and is a great testament to our mission and values. He is a man of faith and has a pleasant disposition that belies his relationship with his home country’s difficult and complex past. He is known to most as Yahwie, which also shares a similar sounding meaning to Hebrew, Greek, and Latin words with reference to God. He has a gentle, soft-spoken voice that is comforting and assuring.

His home country is Sudan, a country ravaged by war and corruption. Many of the citizens are forced to leave the country for various reasons related to the ongoing war and adverse effects of the government’s struggle for power and resources. In the 1980’s, Yahwie was in the army and fought in Sudan. While fighting for the people and country he loves, he was witness to the worst in people during the war. Unfortunately, he lost a great deal during this trying period in his life — his wife and two daughters did not survive due to the lack of proper medical treatment nearby to treat them.

He ultimately moved to the United States for a new beginning and opportunities that weren’t accessible to him back home. After spending 8 years in Orlando and unable to find work, he decided to move to Omaha. He was determined to do more and not just live off his Social Security income. Before that, he had spent some time volunteering and working at a convenience store before the owner of the store sold his shop. He found a temporary job dealing with recycling electronics but still wanted more for his life.

In May of last year, he started training at Goodwill through Employment Solutions Retail Sector Training program, which he found through Nebraska Vocational Rehab. After completing the training program, Yahwie was hired permanently in June 2018. He described his experience of his job search as, “very painful” because of the discrimination, doubt, and uncertainty about his ability to work and being able to support himself and his family back home. For many, this is a burden of responsibility that can be crippling. Yahwie is strong, giving, passionate, hard-working and determined to not let his disability define him. Because of his disability, it is difficult for him to stand for periods of time so Goodwill provided proper accommodations for him. Goodwill’s goal is to focus on his ability, not disability.

The retail sector training course Yahwie completed is just one of Goodwill’s various sector training programs that consists of a comprehensive training, including classroom training hours as well as hours of hands-on job training. The program makes use of almost 100 years of expertise that complements skill-building and employment assistance. With the help of this program, newfound skills, and knowledge, Yahwie was able to successfully land a second job with First Data!

In his free time, Yahwie likes to spend time in the community, at Veteran’s Affairs, an agency he vehemently supports. He enjoys music (African and Tupac) and loves to eat spicy African foods, goat meat, and corn powder! Before losing his leg, he loved to play soccer and now likes watching the Golden State Warriors and Steph Curry in the NBA as well as the Los Angeles Lakers.

“I don’t know what I would be doing or where I would be without the help of Goodwill,” said Yahwietuor. “Goodwill is always taking care of people, training them and helping them with education — so without Goodwill, I wouldn’t have gotten this opportunity.” He appreciates the fact that Goodwill has helped to open a new door for him because he is now working two jobs. He noted, “I love the mission…God bless Goodwill.”

He works seven days a week now and works very hard to achieve his goals. The Goodwill team is very happy and proud of what Yahwie has accomplished, both personally and professionally. He has a cheerful and patient demeanor that helps him excel when dealing with customers and answering repeated questions about his leg. He handles himself very well and we are delighted to have Yahwietuor as a member of our team!

Find out more about how Goodwill programs can help you or someone you know. To learn more, please visit www.goodwillomaha.org/employment-services/ or call us at (402) 341-4609.

#STORIESBEHINDTHESTORES

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Belvedere 3rd Graders Participate In CareerRock It! With Goodwill Omaha and Outlook Nebraska

Students had the opportunity to meet Doug’s guide dog, Finn.

On Tuesday, February 12, 2019, fifteen Belvedere Elementary third graders visited Goodwill’s headquarters as part of the Greater Omaha Chamber’s CareerRock It program. To start the day, students met Goodwill staff and learned about the mission programs Goodwill provides. The class then split into two groups to begin activities.

 

The first group met with Outlook Nebraska’s Adaptive Tech Facilitator Doug Wampler, Doug’s guide dog Phineas, and Community Outreach Specialist Megan Mackie. Doug and Megan provided an excellent learning opportunity for students and led conversation on topics such as:

  • Their personal vision capacity stories
  • Understanding vision loss
  • Why it is important for everyone to be able to work and what types of jobs blind people can do (and what jobs they can’t)
  • Guide dog etiquette and how guide dogs assist people who are blind, especially when it comes to working
  • Outlook Nebraska programs and services for people who are blind
  • And careers for sighted people who want to work with people who are blind

Doug and Megan provided demonstrations for students such as how a blind person uses a computer or smart phone, the technology that assists them, and the opportunity to experience vision simulator goggles.

Doug and Megan also explained adaptive technology that assists individuals with vision loss or impairments.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The second group received a behind-the-scenes tour of Goodwill’s headquarters building. Students learned about Goodwill’s community and training rooms, the administration departments, mission program areas and store operations. YouthBuild AmeriCorps members assisted with chaperoning the tours and highlighting their program area. At the end of the tour, students had the opportunity to select a book to take home with them.

Students visited the YouthBuild AmeriCorps program and learned about the woodshop.

 

 

One student spent some time going through the motions of tidying up a mock jewelry display in Goodwill’s Training Center.

The two groups switched activities allowing every student to get the full experience. Following the activities, students gathered in the Durham Community room where they enjoyed lunch and conversation.

Goodwill Omaha and Outlook Nebraska were honored to be part of the CareerRock It program. Thank you to the Greater Omaha Chamber, Ms. Dunn of Belvedere Elementary, and all the students who participated. We look forward to future opportunities to educate the young minds in our community!

For Information Contact:

Ann Woodford
Goodwill Industries, Inc.
Phone: 402-231-1919
[email protected]

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Goodwill to Host OPS Transition Parent Teacher Conferences and Resource Fair

On February 7, 2019 from 12:00pm to 7:00pm, Goodwill Industries will host the 2019 Omaha Public Schools (OPS) Parent Teacher Conferences for transition students. Transition students are individuals with disabilities nearing the end of their high school careers.  Goodwill provides vocational training to OPS transition students through the Work Experience program.

During parent teacher conferences, Goodwill will also simultaneously host the first annual Disability Resource Fair. The fair provides students, parents and educators an opportunity to meet with more than 30 local agencies who provide support and services for individuals with disabilities such as day programs, residential, transportation, employment services, college opportunities and more. Participating agencies include Autism Action Partnership, Easter Seals NE, Gotta Be Me, Metropolitan Community College, Nebraska Transition College, PTI Nebraska, Special Olympics, and Vocational Rehabilitation, among others.

 For Information Contact:

Sam Comfort
Work Experience Coordinator
Goodwill Industries, Inc.
Phone: 402-951-2918
[email protected]

2-7-19-OPS-ResourceFair
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Congressman Don Bacon Visits Goodwill Omaha

On Monday, February 4, 2019, Congressman Don Bacon visited Goodwill Omaha to learn more about YouthBuild AmeriCorps and congratulate the team on being awarded an $895,437 grant from the U.S. Department of Labor on January 31, 2019.

Congressman Bacon had the opportunity to visit with Goodwill staff including President & CEO Mike McGinnis, Director of Mission Advancement Tobi Mathouser and YouthBuild AmeriCorps Manager Norman Barnes.

During Congressman Bacon’s tour on the YouthBuild AmeriCorps program, he heard first-hand experiences from YouthBuild AmeriCorps Alumni Breona Morrison and current YouthBuild AmeriCorps Member Lori Sayles.

The group discussed topics such as program structure and curriculum, how YouthBuild AmeriCorps makes an impact on youth in our community, and the aspirations of the two young women he met who have experienced YouthBuild AmeriCorps.

“I appreciate all the great efforts that Goodwill is bringing to our community.  The YouthBuild AmeriCorps program is a shining example of how to give our youth and young adults a second chance on life through a structured environment that teaches needed life and job skills they can use to overcome the adversities of their past and succeed in the future,” said Congressman Bacon.

YouthBuild AmeriCorps is an education and training program with a strong pre-apprenticeship component that helps at-risk youth complete high school or state equivalency degree programs. While doing so, participants earn industry-recognized credentials for in-demand occupations, and undergo training to build housing for low-income or homeless individuals and families in their communities.

To learn more about Goodwill mission programs, please visit www.goodwillomaha.org/employment-services.

Congressman Bacon visits with YouthBuild AmeriCorps Alumni Breona Morrison.

Left to right: Dr. Michael McGinnis (President & CEO), Michael Sachar (IT Manager), Breona Morrison (YouthBuild AmeriCorps Alumni), Lori Sayles (YouthBuild AmeriCorps Member), Norman Barnes (YouthBuild AmeriCorps Manager), Jennifer Rohr (Human Resources Director), Congressman Don Bacon, Jim Rich (Goodwill Board of Trustees), Tobi Mathouser (Director of Mission Advancement), Janelle Ellis (Acting Retail Sales Director), Alyssa Beebe (YouthBuild AmeriCorps Construction Trainer), Denise Maddock (Finance Director).

Congressman Bacon visits with YouthBuild AmeriCorps alumni, members and staff.

For Information Contact:

Felix Ungerman
District Director/Deputy Chief of Staff
Congressman Don Bacon
Nebraska, 2nd District
Phone: 402-938-0300
[email protected]

Ann Woodford
Marketing Manager
Goodwill Industries, Inc.
Phone: 402-231-1919
[email protected]

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New Attended Donation Centers Coming Soon!

Exciting news! Goodwill Donation Centers are moving to new locations! We are very grateful for the ongoing community support during our time in these locations.

Current Donation Center closing dates:
• 90th & Maplewood Trailer – November 30
• 50th & Grover Trailer – December 16
• 108th & Mockingbird Site – December 16

All Goodwill retail stores will continue to accept donations during the Donation Center transitions.

In order to serve our customers better, we are excited to share that we will be opening three new Donation Centers on Friday, December 7, and they may be found at:
• 5018 Grover Street, Omaha, NE 68106
(Located next to Godfather’s Pizza)
• 5411 S. 96th Street, Omaha, NE 68127
(Located next to Palm Beach Tan)
• 1056 N. 204th Avenue, Elkhorn, NE 68022
(Located next to Don Carmelo’s)

Thank you for your ongoing support and we look forward to seeing you in our newest Donation Centers!

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Blood Saves Lives

Join Goodwill as we host a blood drive with American Red Cross helping in the support of relief efforts to make a difference in our community.

Who: Everyone is invited

What: An opportunity to make a donation to the American Red Cross

When: Wednesday, November 28, 2018 from 9:00 AM to 3:00 PM

Where: Goodwill – 4805 North 72nd Street

Why: Helping communities come together—donating blood to save lives

How: Contact us at [email protected] or visit redcrossblood.org and enter: Goodwill to schedule an appointment

Click the images below to learn more about how your blood donation makes a difference to people in our community.

 

 

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Tell Us What You Think & Win!

Don’t miss your chance to win!

Answer a few questions about shopping and donating at Goodwill and be entered into a drawing for a chance to win a $100, $50, or $25 Goodwill gift card.

CLICK HERE TO TAKE THE SURVEY

It should take less than ten minutes and the feedback we receive will make a huge difference in how we grow to serve you better in our community.
Our gift card winner will be announced on December 7. 
Thanks for helping us improve!
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Mark Ellerbrake Retires After 28 Years of Service

Mark Ellerbrake Retires After 28 Years of Service


Meet Mark

Mark Ellerbrake is a well-spoken gentleman who was born and raised in Lincoln, Nebraska. In 1990, Mark was hired by Goodwill to work on Goodwill’s AbilityOne federal contract at the Denney Federal Building in Lincoln. Before starting at Goodwill, Mark had worked a handful of odd jobs such as a gift shop attendant and a staff member at a local pizza shop. He had a goal to find a perfect match in employer in hopes of gaining stable employment. Over his 28 years as an AbilityOne custodian, Mark has been able to maintain self-sufficiency at work and at home.

With 28 years of experience in the custodial field, Mark is now embarking on the next chapter of his life as he officially retired from Goodwill on October 31, 2018.

When asked what challenges he has overcome while working at Goodwill, Mark gave a smirk and said “I’ve learned not to wreck a vacuum cord.” We both chuckled as he went on to say that aside from learning how to properly clean and care for a federal building—he loved that Goodwill and his position allowed him to have structure in his life, making it much easier to plan his days.

“The consistency in my job has a big part in what allows me to excel in my work. I have been reliable and am almost never absent from work, so my supervisors have been able to depend on me over the years”, says Mark.

Mark Ellerbrake retires after 28 years of service

A Love For Lincoln

Mark has a love for his hometown, leaving Lincoln has never been an option for him. Mark plans to be as active as possible during his retirement. He wants to stay involved in the community by volunteering his time to different business and organizations in Lincoln.

We would like to celebrate and thank Mark for dedication and his time spent with Goodwill’s Ability One contract at the Denney Federal Building. You will be missed, Mark!


Josh Author Photo

Written By: Josh Meyer

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