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 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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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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Mission In Action: Simon & Ken

 

Last week Goodwill celebrated employees that have served in the Armed Forces and their many contributions to our agency. From the retail stores to administrative staff, Goodwill is proud to employ many veterans from diverse backgrounds.

Meet Simon and Ken. They work at one of Goodwill’s AbilityOne federal contract locations. Through AbilityOne, Goodwill provides employment for individuals with disabilities in a supportive work environment at several federal properties across Nebraska.

Simon and Ken explain their journey from serving in the Armed Forces to employment at Goodwill. They share the skills they gained while serving and how they continue to utilize them today.

Simon joined the Army at 19 years old. He decided to join after graduating high school and feeling unfulfilled while working at fast food restaurants. He knew that there was more for him to learn and enlisting in the Army was a great way to achieve personal growth. Simon shared his initial impressions after enlisting, “Basic training was tough. I wasn’t sure I could make it through, but once I did I found so many other opportunities were available to me.” Simon explained that the Army taught him about responsibility, reliability, dependability – some of the most important aspects of becoming an adult.

After leaving the Army and several years of unemployment, Simon found an opportunity at Goodwill. He said, “Goodwill just felt right.” He loves coming to work every day because of the people – his coworkers, supervisors and the people they serve. Simon expressed his gratitude for all the opportunities he has been afforded since coming to work at Goodwill.

Ken served in the Army Reserves for 16 years. Ken enlisted because he wanted to better himself and get more education. Ken explained the various jobs that he learned while in the Army Reserves and how he overcame challenges throughout his career. While being deployed in Iraq, Ken was exposed to many difficult situations in an unfamiliar place, but it opened his eyes to what he was able to accomplish.

When asked about how he decided to work at Goodwill, Ken happily exclaimed, “Goodwill chose me!” Ken also looks forward to coming to work because of the people he gets to work with. He appreciates the opportunities to continue his personal growth at Goodwill.

Goodwill is proud to provide employment opportunities for people like Simon and Ken. Their strong work ethic and dedication are a tremendous asset to our team. Goodwill is honored to serve those that have served our country.

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Goodwill Hosts the Pre-Employment Transition Youth Conference

We are extremely happy to be hosting the Pre-Employment Transition Youth Conference today! Nebraska VR – Vocational Rehabilitation provides this contract as an opportunity for ESU #2, #3 and #19 to organize and facilitate a student conference, with an emphasis on transition to employment. Esu2Neb ESU 3 ESU 19 Elearning and Distance Education

This experience allows youth with disabilities opportunities to explore a variety of job tasks, showcase their skills and prepare for the world of work. #empoweringpeople #eliminatingbarriers

 

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Results of the 2017 Inclusive Hiring Community Survey Are In!

Goodwill Industries recently conducted an Inclusive Hiring Survey in which we asked community employers to self-assess their efforts to engage and hire individuals with disabilities. Now more than ever, the work to support people striving to overcome employment barriers — get jobs, keep jobs and build a better future — is critically important. It is a privilege for Goodwill Industries to help lead and support this growing movement. The information you provided in the survey is a key role in helping us do that.
Community feedback is vital as we continually strive to provide the highest quality of client service. Based on your feedback Goodwill Industries should aim to:
  • Think Local to build strong local partnerships with community leaders and small business organizations to promote inclusive hiring strategies.
  • Build Trust as originators of inclusive hiring strategies, a resource for information about or conduits to skilled candidates with disabilities; and a support/resource for community employers.
  • Increase Visibility through development and execution of clear and positive educational campaigns that promote the value, benefits and incentives for including people with disabilities in hiring strategies. The message should understand the needs and challenges of business. To help individuals with disabilities add value to the bottom line of engaged community employers.
To view or download the full report, see below:
To learn more about National Disability Employment Awareness Month, First Person Language or Disability Etiquette, please visit our blog.
Thank you for participating in the first annual Goodwill Inclusive Hiring Survey. All information shared is in anonymized, aggregate format.
Contact Regina Bell with any questions.
#InclusionDrivesInnovation #BeyondInclusion
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