Goodwill Commits Giving Tuesday Donations to Help Job Seekers — Especially Those Impacted by COVID-19

The Employment Solutions program is free to anyone who needs help finding a job.

OMAHA, Neb., Nov. 25 2020 — Goodwill Industries, Inc., Serving Eastern Nebraska and Southwest Iowa, (Goodwill Omaha) has announced that it will once again participate in Giving Tuesday next week, on Dec. 1, and the organization said it will use the money to help those impacted by COVID-19.

Building on its commitment to giving back, Goodwill Omaha said funds raised during its Giving Tuesday campaign will go toward helping job seekers, particularly those who lost jobs due to COVID-19, with job training, preparation, certification and placement services.

“This year, we especially want to help people in the communities we serve who have been affected by COVID-19, so the money we raise for Giving Tuesday will go to our Employment Solutions program,” said Tobi Mathouser, president and CEO at Goodwill Omaha. “Through Employment Solutions, we offer job services to anyone in the community. Many who lost jobs earlier this year because of COVID are having a tough time finding long-term work. We want them to know that we are here to help them, and we’re actively investing funds to help them.”

Goodwill Omaha has several mission programs, including Employment Solutions, that are designed to provide employment services to job seekers who have disabilities, who lack education or job experience, and who face challenges or barriers to finding employment. Unlike most of Goodwill Omaha’s programs, Employment Solutions participants do not need to meet any specific criteria, other than to be looking for a job.

“Last year alone, Goodwill’s employment programs helped more than 230,000 people in the United States and Canada find long-term employment,” Mathouser said. “Put another way, one out of every 275 people who went to work in the United States last year did so with the help of Goodwill. Locally, our programs put several thousand people to work every year. With the gifts we receive on Giving Tuesday, we’ll be able to help people who have been affected by COVID-19 get back to work.”

Goodwill’s Employment Solutions program offers training classes, accelerated certified nursing assistant classes, and follow-up services at no cost to anyone who needs help finding a job.

“We work with more than 200 employers in the Omaha metro area,” Mathouser said. “Employment Solutions is designed to work for everyone involved: Employers let us know what positions they’re hiring for. Our Employment Solutions team recommends candidates they’re working with who may be a good fit. Our team also provides résumé assistance, prepares them for job interviews, and provides or facilitates training in areas where participants may be lacking.

“The final step is our follow-up program, which helps us ensure that the employer and employee are a good fit for one another,” Mathouser said.

Goodwill’s Employment Solutions also offers sector training classes, computer training classes, hiring events and even CNA certification — all at no cost to program participants.

Giving Tuesday is a collective, worldwide effort to transform how people take part in the giving season. “Our Giving Tuesday donation page is live and accepting early donations,” Mathouser said, “so anyone who wants to help can donate to Goodwill Omaha and our Employment Solutions program any time.

“Goodwill Omaha has been transforming lives through job training, placement and other services since 1933,” Mathouser continued. “It just makes sense for us to take part in a broader effort to give back to the people in our community this holiday season — especially those who have been impacted by the pandemic.”

To learn more or support Goodwill’s Employment Solutions program with a tax-deductible gift for Giving Tuesday, please visit GoodwillOmaha.org/givingtuesday for more information and the donation page link.

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Goodwill Omaha Is ‘Rounding Up’ for Local United Ways

Goodwill shoppers can donate their change to help others in the community who are experiencing hardship due to COVID-19.

OMAHA, Neb., Nov. 24, 2020 — Goodwill Industries, Inc., Serving Eastern Nebraska and Southwest Iowa, is pleased to announce that its retail stores are raising money for two local United Way organizations to help people in the area who have been affected by COVID-19. The “Round It Up for United Way” campaign 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 runs through Dec. 31, allowing shoppers at Goodwill retail stores to choose to “round up” their purchase totals to the next dollar when they check out. Round-it-up donations at Goodwill Omaha’s stores in Fremont and Blair will be donated to the Fremont Area United Way, and donations made at the other Goodwill locations will be donated 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 many people know, COVID-19 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.”

 

About Goodwill Industries, Inc.

Many people know Goodwill Industries, Inc., Serving Eastern Nebraska and Southwest Iowa, as a place to donate used clothing and household items or find great bargains. But you might not know the mission at the heart of our organization: We provide job training and placement services to people with disabilities and other disadvantages.

The sale of donated items sold in Goodwill retail stores supports our mission programs. Here’s how: People in the community donate gently used items to Goodwill. We sell those donated items in Goodwill retail stores. The proceeds from those sales subsidize our mission programs, giving thousands of individuals in the Omaha area the chance to earn a living, discover independence and succeed in life.

Goodwill provides opportunities through a variety of employment programs, including YouthBuild AmeriCorps, Employment Solutions and Work Experience. We also are affiliated with the federal AbilityOne program, which provides jobs at federal facilities to people with severe disabilities.

Goodwill is a private, 501(c)(3) not-for-profit agency governed by a local board of trustees. We are a member agency of Goodwill Industries International of Gaithersburg, Maryland, and accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities (CARF).

For more information about Goodwill’s programs and our 18 convenient locations in Omaha, Bellevue, Papillion, Fremont, Blair, Gretna and Council Bluffs, please visit GoodwillOmaha.org.

 

About United Way of the Midlands

United Way of the Midlands (UWM) has served the Omaha-Council Bluffs metro for more than 95 years. Guided by best practices and community input, it approaches poverty in a specific way — a “united” way. With the support of volunteers, community partners and donors, UWM invests donor dollars efficiently and effectively in our local community. These dollars fund basic needs, education and financial stability programs at local nonprofits, creating a circle of support for people in need. Please visit unitedwaymidlands.org for more information.

 

About the Fremont Area United Way

The Fremont Area United Way works to advance the common good by focusing on education, income and health. Our goal is to create long-lasting changes that prevent problems from happening in the first place. Our vision for the Fremont area is to create solutions to community issues where we can make a difference, such as school readiness. We hope you want to be a part of the change. We think we can do more together than any of us can do alone. This is what it means to “Live United.” Learn more at FremontUnitedWay.org.

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United Way of the Midlands Awards Karnett Trust Grant to Goodwill Omaha

The grant will enable Goodwill Omaha to offer virtual learning options for the Work Experience program.

OMAHA, Neb., Nov. 4, 2020 — Goodwill Industries, Inc., Serving Eastern Nebraska and Southwest Iowa, (Goodwill Omaha) is pleased to announce that it has been awarded the $70,000 Karnett Family Trust Grant by United Way of the Midlands Karnett Trust.

The Karnett Family Trust Grant is administered by United Way of the Midlands and is open to 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization in Douglas, Sarpy and Pottawattamie counties to fund programs that are focused on the care, education and training of children with intellectual/developmental disabilities in the Omaha metropolitan area. The grant will provide vital funding for Goodwill Omaha’s Work Experience program, which gives developmentally disabled high school students opportunities to gain exposure to work situations in supportive environments.

“We are incredibly thankful to United Way of the Midlands and the Karnett Family for this grant,” said Linda Kizzier, director of mission programs at Goodwill Omaha. “Goodwill began developing basic virtual-learning curriculum for our programs prior to the COVID-19 lockdowns in March 2020, and the Karnett Family Trust Grant will enable us to put more time and resources toward that initiative, so we can offer our Work Experience students a more standardized curriculum that’s available and accessible if there are times when they cannot attend in-person learning at schools.”

Goodwill’s Work Experience program has provided training services to developmentally disabled high school students since 1965. As Goodwill’s oldest program, Work Experience has professionals who work with local school districts in eight retail and community-based locations in the metropolitan community.

When most schools closed in March, students participating in Goodwill Omaha’s Work Experience program were forced to end their training abruptly. “With the help of this grant, the Work Experience program will move closer to providing a more robust virtual training platform,” Kizzier said. “We’ll develop the virtual platform to help our Work Experience students maintain a more consistent pace and scope of our traditional program, so they’ll be able to continue the program with as little interruption as possible.”

COVID-19 has presented many challenges for students at schools that haven’t yet returned to in-person learning, parents’ reluctance to allow children to return to a classroom, or whose underlying health concerns make returning to a classroom undesirable or unsafe. Goodwill Omaha is adapting its service delivery with a flexible online training system designed to help bridge the gap until schools and students can return to more normal learning environments.

Kizzier said the Work Experience team has been developing videos demonstrating the various skill sets they teach during face-to-face training, so students who cannot attend classes in person still have the opportunity to learn certain social and work skills. Following video training, students will answer questions to demonstrate their understanding of the task shown in the video.

“By using the Karnett Family Trust Grant to offer virtual training to students, Goodwill Omaha can provide an introduction and better understanding of various tasks when face-to-face classroom activities are not feasible,” said Tobi Mathouser, president and CEO at Goodwill Omaha. “Access to virtual training will also help students remain connected to their trainers, the training program and their peers, helping to ensure that ongoing learning takes place and students are in a good position to return to face-to-face training.”

About United Way of the Midlands

We focus the efforts of many to help our neighbors stand strong – by addressing basic needs, and fostering success in the classroom and the workplace. www.UnitedWayMidlands.org.

About Goodwill Industries, Inc.

Many people know Goodwill Industries, Inc., Serving Eastern Nebraska and Southwest Iowa, as a place to donate used clothing and household items or find great bargains. But you might not know the mission at the heart of our organization: We provide job training and placement services to people with disabilities and other disadvantages.

The sale of donated items sold in Goodwill retail stores supports our mission programs. Here’s how: People in the community donate gently used items to Goodwill. We sell those donated items in Goodwill retail stores. The proceeds from those sales subsidize our mission programs, giving thousands of individuals in the Omaha area the chance to earn a living, discover independence and succeed in life.

Goodwill provides opportunities through a variety of employment programs, including YouthBuild AmeriCorps, Employment Solutions and Work Experience. We also are affiliated with the federal AbilityOne program, which provides jobs at federal facilities to people with severe disabilities.

Goodwill is a private, 501(c)(3) not-for-profit agency governed by a local board of trustees. We are a member agency of Goodwill Industries International of Gaithersburg, Maryland, and accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities (CARF).

For more information about Goodwill’s programs and our 18 convenient locations in Omaha, Bellevue, Papillion, Fremont, Blair, Gretna and Council Bluffs, please visit GoodwillOmaha.org.

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Goodwill, Max I. Walker Team Up Again — This Time To Provide Sleepers for a Local NICU

More than 60 sleepers are headed to Methodist Women’s Hospital.

OMAHA, Neb., Aug. 7, 2020 — In late July, Sarah Jane Geilenkirchen, a nursing assistant in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) at Methodist Women’s Hospital, posted a request to a Facebook group: “I’m looking for some help. I work in the NICU, and we are running out of sleepers for these littles.”

Her request was well-received. “I belong to a moms group on Facebook,” Geilenkirchen said. “I saw they were doing great things in the community, so I asked the group if they would consider donating some sleepers. It is an item that we are always in need of in the NICU.”

The Methodist Women’s Hospital NICU is a 51-bed unit staffed by a highly specialized neonatal team. The NICU is designated a Level III unit — the highest level of care in west Omaha. Since opening in 2010, the NICU has cared for more than 6,600 babies.

Representatives from Goodwill Omaha, Max I. Walker and Methodist Women’s Hospital show off some of the sleepers donated to the NICU.

When Max I. Walker saw the request on Facebook, they immediately thought of their recent collaborator on a similar effort: Goodwill Industries, Inc. (Goodwill Omaha).

“The response was pretty amazing,” Geilenkirchen said. “Then, to see Max I. Walker and Goodwill step up as well … it’s just incredible.”

“We teamed up with Goodwill in April to donate scrubs to the Creighton medical scrub drive, and it was a really positive experience,” said Casey Walker, director of retail operations at Max I. Walker, “so, it was natural to think of them for the NICU sleepers. Our marketing teams got together and were able to put a plan into action very quickly.”

Max I. Walker and Goodwill managed the donation project the same way they did the scrub drive donation: Goodwill’s retail operations team gathered all the sleepers in preemie and newborn sizes from its stores, Max I. Walker laundered and bundled the sleepers, and members of the two organizations delivered the freshly cleaned sleepers to Methodist Women’s Hospital on Aug. 7. In total, they donated and cleaned more than 60 sleepers.

“It was easier for our team this time because our stores are open now, and they weren’t in April,” said Tobi Mathouser, president and CEO of Goodwill Omaha. “So, instead of the three members

of our retail operations team driving across the metro area to all of our stores and searching for the items, they contacted each store’s manager and asked them to collect the sleepers in their stores and send them on one of our trucks to our retail operations center.”

As longtime pillars of the community, Max I. Walker and Goodwill Omaha frequently lead initiatives to give back to the community, and they seem to be well-matched partners in these efforts.

Goodwill’s marketing director worked on Max I. Walker’s account at an advertising agency several years ago and knew a lot about the company and their social good activities. “We’re excited to have found such a willing and generous ally in Max I. Walker,” Mathouser said. “Goodwill’s mission is to give back to the community in the form of our employment services, but it’s always fun to find new ways to do good. I think we have the potential to do a lot of good as a team.”

“The Omaha community has supported our business for more than a century, and we do believe in showing our appreciation by supporting the community right back,” Walker said. “It’s something we look forward to. With the pandemic, there’s a lot of need in the metro area on so many levels. We want to help in the best ways we can, and Goodwill’s objectives align with ours. I think the community will see more of these types of efforts from our organizations now that we’ve gotten to know one another a little bit.”

Geilenkirchen said the sleepers will certainly keep babies in the NICU comfortable, but they’ll also bring comfort to the families, who typically spend as much time as they can at the hospital with their babies. “For families in the NICU, it can be such a lonesome time” Geilenkirchen said. “Something as simple as a sleeper provides them with some normalcy. Having a sleeper allows the families to participate in the care of their baby. It’s such a simple thing, but it means so much to them.”

In April, Creighton School of Medicine student organizers of a scrub drive contacted Goodwill Omaha asking for scrub donations for frontline workers at CHI’s Bergen Mercy Hospital.  launching the nonprofit’s collaboration with Max I. Walker. Together, they donated more than 350 pairs of clean scrubs to the drive.

 

About Max I. Walker Dry Cleaning & Laundry

Max I. Walker Cleaners & Launderers was founded by Max I. Walker on March 17, 1917. Over the past 103 years, it has grown into a company with hundreds of employees serving customers at locations in Omaha, Elkhorn, Papillion and Bellevue, Nebraska, and Council Bluffs, Iowa. Today — five generations later — Max I. Walker remains family owned and operated. In addition to dry cleaning services, Max I. Walker offers a Wash & Fold Laundry Service for all laundry items, and a free pickup and delivery service from home or office. As the proud recipient of Best of Omaha 1st Place for Dry Cleaning in 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019 and 2020, Max I. Walker is Omaha’s Favorite Dry Cleaner.

Max I. Walker is committed to serving the communities that support us — we wouldn’t be here without them — and we seek out opportunities to give back by supporting local media, small businesses and charitable organizations. We also hold an annual fundraising event, the Ultra Chic Boutique dress sale, which benefits the Nebraska Alzheimer’s Association. For more information, visit MaxIWalker.com.

 

About Goodwill Industries, Inc.

Many people know Goodwill Industries, Inc., Serving Eastern Nebraska and Southwest Iowa, as a place to donate used clothing and household items or find great bargains. But you might not know the mission at the heart of our organization: We provide job training and placement services to people with disabilities and other disadvantages.

The sale of donated items sold in Goodwill retail stores supports our mission programs. Here’s how: People in the community donate gently used items to Goodwill. We sell those donated items in Goodwill retail stores. The proceeds from those sales subsidize our mission programs, giving thousands of individuals in the Omaha area the chance to earn a living, discover independence and succeed in life.

Goodwill provides opportunities through a variety of employment programs, including YouthBuild

AmeriCorps, Employment Solutions and Work Experience. We also are affiliated with the federal AbilityOne program, which provides jobs at federal facilities to people with severe disabilities.

Goodwill is a private, 501(c)(3) not-for-profit agency governed by a local board of trustees. We are a member agency of Goodwill Industries International of Gaithersburg, Maryland, and is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities (CARF).

For more information about Goodwill’s programs and our 18 convenient locations in Omaha, Bellevue, Papillion, Fremont, Blair, Gretna and Council Bluffs, please visit GoodwillOmaha.org.

 

 

 

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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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]

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.

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