Response to the COVID-19 Pandemic

New COVID-19 Procedures & Precautions in Effect at All Goodwill Omaha Locations

At Goodwill Omaha, we carefully consider the health of our employees, program participants, customers, donors and the community in general. We also take the spread of the novel coronavirus seriously, and we want to do our part to prevent the spread of the virus at every one of our locations.

Goodwill Omaha has implemented the following processes and procedures — based on best practices from Goodwill Industries International, other Goodwill affiliate organizations and the National Retail Federation — at all of our retail stores and donation centers:

  1. We have employees assigned to sanitizing carts.
  2. Operating hours at all locations are temporarily reduced to 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., seven days a week.
  3. Every employee has been instructed to stay home if they:
    • Have any symptoms, including fever, cough, sore throat or shortness of breath
    • Live with anyone who has been suspected of having or diagnosed with COVID-19
    • Have been exposed to anyone who is suspected of or confirmed to have COVID-19

Each employee has signed an agreement stating that they will review the symptom and exposure checklist before every shift and report to their manager if they are experiencing symptoms or may have been exposed. In either case, the manager will send the employee home.

  1. All Goodwill employees are wearing masks and gloves at all times in our stores and donation centers.
  2. Employees are sanitizing high-traffic areas every two hours, and our cleaning crew is performing additional sanitizing and deep cleaning at all stores.
  3. Regular announcements over the PA systems remind customers to social distance and give each other some extra space.
  4. We’ve installed clear acrylic dividers at the registers and jewelry counters to protect customers and employees in areas where social distancing is impossible or impractical.
  5. Our fitting rooms are temporarily closed. We understand this may be inconvenient for our customers, so we’ll grant store credit for returns of clothing items with the tags attached and the receipt for an additional seven days beyond our regular return policy.
  6. Signage reminding everyone to social distance at least 6 feet is posted throughout the stores and on floor decals at the registers.
  7. Our donation centers have implemented no-contact donations. Donors can either put their donations in the bins we have set out, or stay in their car and our team will unload donations from the trunk.
  8. Our donation centers are holding all donations for a minimum of 24 hours before they’ll be put out on the shelves.

Additional Precautions at the Goodwill Wearhouse Only

The following are additional precautions we are enforcing at the Goodwill Wearhouse near 72nd & F streets:

  1. Customers also must wear masks and gloves the entire time they’re in the store.
  2. No one under the age of 16 is allowed in the Wearhouse until further notice.

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A Message From Tobi Mathouser, President and Chief Operating Officer

When corruption is uncovered in a business or organization, how do you know whether the problems have been resolved or the organization is feeding you lip service?

I’m not sure there’s a single definitive answer. What I do know is that most people can easily spot whether another person, a business or an organization is transparent and authentic — two words that I would like to see become synonymous with Omaha’s Goodwill organization.

We’re willing to work hard to earn the right to call ourselves both, and we have worked tirelessly over the past three years to make progress toward both. I believe that starts with honest communication, which you’ll see much more of from our organization.

When the Nebraska Attorney General’s Office opened an investigation in 2016, triggered by a local media report, it uncovered practices that shocked most employees. As a result, members of the board of trustees acted swiftly and resolutely, which resulted in a complete overhaul of the executive team and most of the board.

Since then, we have painstakingly worked toward making our Goodwill organization a charitable, community-focused nonprofit. Our current leadership team and board were neither involved in past wrongdoing, nor do we condone such practices.

Certain misconceptions persist even today, as we knew they might, and we generally just work harder to overcome them. There are, however, a few that I would like to take a moment to address.

Although the information regarding Goodwill’s settlement with former CEO Frank McGree has been publicly posted on our website for a year in our 2018 IRS Tax Form 990, the settlement recently became a topic of speculation and discussion. We legally cannot discuss any part of the settlement agreement other than what was reported in our 990, but I can clarify one point: Goodwill made the final settlement payment of $610,000 to McGree in 2018 — nearly two years ago — so, this information isn’t news.

We’ve heard discussion claiming that Goodwill pays some employees less than minimum wage. All Goodwill employees make a minimum of $10 an hour, and all employees who are part of our AbilityOne program earn the federal wage determination for the types of government contracts they work on.

We’ve seen comments criticizing the prices of items sold in our retail stores. Goodwill follows — and always has followed — a Good–Better–Best pricing scale. We have not raised the prices on this scale since 2012, which isn’t something most retailers can say.

Above all, Goodwill Omaha remains focused on growing our mission programming, offering our employees stability and security, and providing youth and adults with disabilities and other disadvantages in our community the job training, certification and placement services they need to attain — and maintain — gainful employment. Everything we do revolves around our mission and the programs that bring it to life.

Goodwill’s leadership team and employees have worked immensely hard over the last few years to lift our organization out of a very difficult situation. Now, we want nothing more than to move forward and focus our attention on providing services to people in our community who will benefit and flourish from them. I hope the changes we have made within our Goodwill organization over the last few years will help us regain the trust of the community and our customers.

Transparency, authenticity and integrity begin within an organization, and I am committed to making Goodwill Omaha an organization that demonstrates each of those under the utmost scrutiny. Now, let’s get started.

 

Sincerely,

 

 

Tobi Mathouser
President and Chief Operating Officer

 

Goodwill Omaha Shoppers Donate $15,000 to ‘Round It Up for United Way’

Goodwill presented the United Way with a check to benefit its Opportunity Youth program.

OMAHA, Neb., Feb. 25, 2020 — Omaha’s Goodwill Industries, Inc., has presented the United Way of the Midlands with a check for $15,000, money that Goodwill retail customers donated during the Round It Up for United Way of the Midlands, an annual donation campaign to raise awareness and

Pictured, left to right: Goodwill Omaha CEO Dr. Michael McGinnis; Linda Kizzier (Goodwill); Shantel Featherson (Goodwill); Jessica Jensen (United Way); Janelle Ellis (Goodwill); Melanie Moyer (Goodwill).

money to support United Way programs. Between Nov. 1 and Dec. 31, 2019, customers at Goodwill stores could choose to “round up” their purchase totals to the next dollar at the point of sale, and many donated even more. Goodwill executives and retail operations team members presented the check to United Way representative Jessica Jensen on Feb. 1.

Goodwill designated the donation for the United Way’s Opportunity Youth initiative, a collective group that works to connect youth to basic-needs services, educational opportunities and employment prospects.

“We chose to sponsor the Opportunity Youth initiative because it aligns with Goodwill’s mission to change lives and strengthen communities through education, training and work,” said Tobi Mathouser, Goodwill Omaha’s president and chief operating officer. “All of our mission programs — Employment Solutions, YouthBuild, Work Experience and AbilityOne — offer education, training and job placement opportunities for people with disabilities and other disadvantages.

“When we have the chance to take part in the Opportunity Youth Alliance and campaigns like Round It up,” Mathouser continued, “we can help more people in our community — and that’s something our employees and leadership team find exciting.”

“Our retail customers are so generous,” said Janelle Ellis, director of retail operations at Goodwill Omaha. “They really stepped up and donated to the Round It Up campaign, which will go a long way toward helping others in our area.”

 

About Goodwill Industries, Inc.

Goodwill Industries, Inc., Serving Eastern Nebraska and Southwest Iowa, has been a leader in helping people fulfill their dreams through work since 1933. Our mission is to train and employ people with disabilities and others who may be at a competitive disadvantage in the job market. We do this by selling value-priced merchandise at 17 convenient locations in Omaha, Bellevue, Papillion, Fremont, Blair, Gretna and Council Bluffs.

Although many people know Goodwill as a place to donate used clothing and household items, they may not realize that their donations sold in our retail stores fund programs that give thousands of formerly unemployed individuals the opportunity to earn a living and the chance to succeed in life. Goodwill provides opportunities for individuals with barriers to self-sufficiency through a variety of job opportunities and employment programs, including AbilityOne, YouthBuild AmeriCorps, Employment Solutions and Work Experience.

Goodwill is a private, not-for-profit 501(c)3 agency governed by a local board of trustees. We are a member agency of Goodwill Industries International of Gaithersburg, Maryland. Goodwill is also affiliated with the federal Ability One program, which provides jobs for people with severe disabilities at federal facilities. Goodwill is accredited by CARF, the Rehabilitation Accreditation Commission. Learn more at GoodwillOmaha.org.

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Goodwill Omaha Welcomes New Members to Executive Team

Two new directors help position the organization for success. 

OMAHA, Neb., Feb. 6, 2020 — Over the last two months, Omaha’s Goodwill Industries, Inc., has welcomed several employees to its headquarters staff, including two new members of its executive team. As the organization continues efforts to grow in order to increase the number of people its employment programs serve in the Omaha area, CEO Dr. Michael McGinnis backfilled one of these positions with a former member of his team at the Strategic Air Command (SAC) & Aeronautics Museum.

Elaine Leibert joined Goodwill’s team as finance director in December. Leibert has nearly 25 years of experience in the finance industry, and her previous role was as COO at the SAC Museum. Her past roles include controller positions where she oversaw finance departments at multiple locations and with budgets exceeding $50 million. Her expertise includes financial analysis, budgeting and strategic planning.

“Although I worked at for-profit businesses for the majority of my career, I’ve spent the past eight years working for nonprofit organizations,” Leibert said. She described herself as an “operations-focused leader who consistently looks to improve efficiencies and transparency for both internal and external customers.”

Erin Blackledge, PHR, has worked in Goodwill’s human relations department since May 2013, when she started as an HR specialist. In late-December, she accepted a position as Goodwill’s HR director, a testament to her exemplary record and continued professional development. In addition to the HR department, Blackledge oversees Goodwill’s safety program and loss prevention employees.

“The Goodwill HR team over the past six and half years has done a tremendous job at involving, training, developing and including me in all levels of HR, safety and loss prevention,” Blackledge said. “With assistance from other department leaders, as well as my own personal drive and motivation to become successful, I have grown from an entry-level HR position to the director of HR overseeing HR, safety and loss prevention.”

“Staff changes can be challenging, but I think we’ve seen very smooth transitions with these roles,” McGinnis said. “I think we have the right people in the right roles, and that’s made all the difference. I’m excited to see all the ways their contributions help expand our programs and broaden our vision.”

About Goodwill Industries, Inc.

Goodwill Industries, Inc., Serving Eastern Nebraska and Southwest Iowa, has been a leader in helping people fulfill their dreams through work since 1933. Our mission is to train and employ people with disabilities and others who may be at a competitive disadvantage in the job market. We do this by selling value-priced merchandise at 17 convenient locations in Omaha, Bellevue, Papillion, Fremont, Blair, Gretna and Council Bluffs.

Although many people know Goodwill as a place to donate used clothing and household items, they may not realize that their donations sold in our retail stores fund programs that give thousands of formerly unemployed individuals the opportunity to earn a living and the chance to succeed in life. Goodwill provides opportunities for individuals with barriers to self-sufficiency through a variety of job opportunities and employment programs, including AbilityOne, YouthBuild AmeriCorps, Employment Solutions and Work Experience.

Goodwill is a private, not-for-profit 501(c)3 agency governed by a local board of trustees. We are a member agency of Goodwill Industries International of Gaithersburg, Maryland. Goodwill is also affiliated with the federal Ability One program, which provides jobs for people with severe disabilities at federal facilities. Goodwill is accredited by CARF, the Rehabilitation Accreditation Commission. Learn more at GoodwillOmaha.org.

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Omaha’s Goodwill Industries Wins Top Award for City’s Best Thrift Store

OMAHA, Neb., Dec. 11, 2019 — In its annual Best of Omaha issue, Omaha Magazine announced that its voters chose Goodwill Industries, Inc., as the city’s first-place winner in the Best Thrift Store category.

“It’s such an honor that the Omaha community chose our stores as the best in the city,” said Janelle Ellis, director of retail operations for Goodwill. “We’ve worked hard to improve the organization of our stores and to make sure we get donated items on the shelves right after we receive and process them, which gives our customers greater variety and helps ensure that our inventory is in constant rotation.

“Plus,” Ellis continued, “the more donated goods we sell, the more money we can invest into our community employment programs, which really are the heart of Goodwill.”

Omaha Magazine’s Best of Omaha began in 1992, and the publication takes several measures to ensure that the contest is legitimate:

  • Contest winners do not have to be advertisers, and participation is completely optional.
  • Voting is open to the entire Omaha community, regardless of whether they subscribe to the magazine.
  • Ballots are blank and ad-free, eliminating influence or bias and encouraging voters to choose businesses they truly enjoy shopping at.
  • An independent auditing firm validates the submitted voting ballots to prevent vote-stuffing and manipulation.

About Goodwill Industries, Inc.

Goodwill Industries, Inc., Serving Eastern Nebraska and Southwest Iowa, has been a leader in helping people fulfill their dreams through work since 1933. Our mission is to train and employ people with disabilities and others who may be at a competitive disadvantage in the job market. We do this by selling value-priced merchandise at 17 convenient locations in Omaha, Bellevue, Papillion, Fremont, Blair, Gretna and Council Bluffs.

Although many people know Goodwill as a place to donate used clothing and household items, they may not realize that their donations sold in our retail stores fund programs that give thousands of

formerly unemployed individuals the opportunity to earn a living and the chance to succeed in life. Goodwill provides opportunities for individuals with barriers to self-sufficiency through a variety of job opportunities and employment programs, including AbilityOne, YouthBuild AmeriCorps, Employment Solutions and Work Experience.

Goodwill is a private, not-for-profit 501(c)3 agency governed by a local board of trustees. We are a member agency of Goodwill Industries International of Gaithersburg, Maryland. Goodwill is also affiliated with the federal Ability One program, which provides jobs for people with severe disabilities at federal facilities. Goodwill is accredited by CARF, the Rehabilitation Accreditation Commission. Learn more at GoodwillOmaha.org.

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United Way of the Midlands Awards $36,000 Grant to Goodwill Industries, Inc., to Fund YouthBuild Omaha

For Immediate Release

July 16, 2019

 

(Omaha, NE) Goodwill Industries, Inc., Serving Eastern Nebraska & Southwest Iowa is pleased to announce it was awarded a $36,000 grant from United Way of the Midlands. Thanks to the generosity of the United Way donors, Goodwill’s YouthBuild Omaha Program is able to provide another year of intensive vocational and life skills training to individuals in our community.

YouthBuild Omaha is a program for young adults, ages 16 to 24, who have struggled with school. Many of these young people do not have a high school diploma and are looking to make a positive change in their lives. YouthBuild Omaha’s mission is to equip young people with the tools to make healthy decisions. The program combines classroom learning and hands-on construction experience. YouthBuild Omaha members spend half their day in the classroom preparing to take their GED tests, and the other half working with local non-profits that build and renovate homes, learning construction and other high demand occupations, and giving back to their community.

By integrating academic, vocational and leadership activities, YouthBuild Omaha offers a unique project-based learning model for members. The learning experience is individualized, intensive and designed to replicate the professional work environment. Members identify their skills, barriers and career interests and follow individual development plans. They work towards continuous improvement in five key behavioral areas – attendance, communication, positive workplace behavior, conduct, and follow-through.

This is the second of a two-year commitment United Way of the Midlands has made to maintaining and enhancing YouthBuild Omaha. This support has allowed Goodwill to increase services provided to young adults enrolled in the program, and introduce innovative new learning processes. In 2019, United Way funding allowed Goodwill to purchase 12 state of the art monitors and 2 printers (one being a 3D printer) to expand our YouthBuild Construction Plus model to include IT Certification. Upon successful completion, students will earn MakerBot 3D Printing Certification and Autodesk Certification, preparing the next generation of CADD industry professionals.

“United Way’s grant and continued support for the Goodwill YouthBuild Omaha programs is greatly appreciated. It will bring positive change to the lives of many youth enrolled in the program,” said Dr. Michael McGinnis, CEO and President of Goodwill Omaha.

About United Way of the Midlands:

Thanks to donors, volunteers and community partners, United Way of the Midlands is not only focused on addressing our community’s human needs today; it is focused on what can be and what should be. It is building on today’s strong partnerships to create even more comprehensive human service efforts tomorrow, so our community can solve some of the root causes of poverty. United Way of the Midlands is community-based, community-focused. Thanks to those who share their strength, United Way of the Midlands is COMMUNITY STRONG. Please visit UnitedWayMidlands.org for more information

About Goodwill Omaha:

Goodwill Industries, Inc. has been leaders in helping people fulfill their dreams through work since 1933. Our mission is to change lives and strengthen communities through education, training, and work. Visit www.goodwillomaha.org for more information.

 

For Information Contact:

Tobi Mathouser – Director of Mission Advancement

Goodwill Industries, Inc. Serving Eastern Nebraska & Southwest Iowa

402-341-4609

[email protected]

Story Behind the Store – A Gender Reveal Party

 

It is not every day that Goodwill hosts a gender reveal party for an expectant mother. On March 7, 2019, that is exactly what happened at Goodwill’s WearHouse store on 72nd & F where long-term customer Arelys Sandoval revealed the gender of her next child to her family, friends and fellow shoppers.

Shantel Featherson, Goodwill’s WearHouse Manager, was honored to be part of the special occasion. “We were so excited to be part of this special moment for one of our long-time customers. We were able to help celebrate with great people, good food and games,” said Shantel. Shantel took time out of her busy day to plan the party and purchase decorations to make this day extra special for Arelys.

Shantel Featherson and Arelys Sandoval embracing during the party

Arelys’ brother, Rodrigo, introduced her to the WearHouse store over eight years ago and she has been a regular shopper ever since. The WearHouse store is a different kind of shopping experience. Items not sold at the traditional retail stores are sent to the WearHouse and most items are sold by the pound.

Arelys is a stay at home mom and sees her daily trips to Goodwill as a way to make new friends who enjoy shopping at the WearHouse as she does. Arelys says the friendly and helpful employees at Goodwill make her daily shopping there a memorable experience. “I really appreciate the environment at Goodwill, everyone is so nice!” said Arelys.

The Goodwill staff, shoppers and family members

Sandoval’s favorite things to shop for are clothes and toys for her son Ivan. A budding entrepreneur, she enjoys shopping for books that she resells on eBay and Amazon. “I always find great stuff!” said Arelys.

When asked what advice she would give people shopping at the WearHouse, she stressed the need for patience. You must dig for hidden treasures in the bins.  Arelys said, “I prefer Goodwill because of the prices. You can buy by the pound and it’s cheaper so you can get more.”

Arelys getting ready to find out the gender of her next baby

Arelys said her gender reveal party is by far the fondest memory she has of all her trips to Goodwill. The WearHouse staff looks forward to her bright, cheery and pleasant demeanor every day!
Goodwill is grateful for Arelys sharing her special day with us.

We appreciate her loyalty to Goodwill and cannot wait to meet the newest addition to her family.
Goodwill supports community needs and provides a unique shopping experience for customers like Arelys who has become a member of Goodwill’s extended family!

And the gender was… A BOY!!!

 

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]