Mark Ellerbrake Retires After 28 Years of Service
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.
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!
Written By: Josh Meyer
The BOO!dwill Halloween Costume Contest won’t stay dead, nor should it! Because it’s that time a year again when you need to start thinking “Halloween costume” and “Goodwill” in the same sentence!
Goodwill is an awesome place to shop for Halloween costumes. Are you someone who likes to dream up some creative outfit and enjoys the hunt for just the right pieces? We have sixteen stores around town where you can find those costume ingredients. Or are you someone who just wants a quick and easy costume so you’re not the person dressed up as “suburbanite” or “adult” at the Halloween party? We’ve got plenty of more traditional costumes too! And no matter which camp you fall into, your costume purchases at Goodwill stores help put people to work — and they can win you some treats.
We want to see what you’ve come up with by shopping at our stores, so it’s time show off your costume and win prizes in the process — by entering the BOO!dwill Halloween Costume Contest!
1. Between now and 5 p.m. on Thursday, November 1, 2018, e-mail a photo of yourself in a costume you either purchased or assembled from items purchased at an Omaha area Goodwill to [email protected].
This years contest will be based on Facebook likes. Between November 1 and November 7 , please visit the Boo!dwill 2018 Facebook Album and like your favorite costume. Only “likes” on the photos in the album will determine our winner, shares and comments are not needed in order to win.
2. In the email, tell us your name, how to contact you, and at which store(s) you bought your costume.
That’s it! On Wednesday, November 7, 2018, the voting will close, and the top three will all receive Goodwill gift certificates ($100 for 1st place, $50 for 2nd, $25 for 3rd)!
Good luck and happy shopping!
Goodwill’s mission to change lives and strengthen communities through education, training and work would not be possible without the generous support of our donors. See below for a complete list of Goodwill donors in 2017.
Nebraska Department of Environmental Quality
United Way of the Midlands
R.J. & Liz Neary
Arthur J. Gallagher & Co.
Fraser Stryker Law Firm
Helen Pearson Charitable Trust
Joe & Kacey Lempka
Mark & Donelle Stokes
Mutual of Omaha Bank
Baird Holm LLP
Baxter Toyota La Vista
Blue Cross Blue Shield of Nebraska
Erin and Michael Limas
Frankel Zacharia LLC
Great Western Bank
J.E. Dunn Construction Company
Jim and Jenny Rich
Joseph and Molly Lang
Kiewit Building Group
McGrath North Mullin & Kratz, PC LLO.
Pansing, Hogan, Ernst, & Bachman, LLP.
RDG Planning and Design
Richard & Rosemary Frandeen
Rick and Carol Russell
Scott & Lindsey Semrad
The Harry A. Koch Co.
Brent Koster and Chelsey Erpelding
Central States Health & Life Co.
David & Melissa Anderson
Frank & Kendra McGree
Hamann Charitable Fund
Joseph and Molly Lang
Kathryn and Thomas Sudyka, Jr.
Lovgren Marketing Group
Morgan Stanley Wealth Management
OneNeck IT Solutions
Quantum Real Estate
Thompson, Dreessen & Dorner, Inc.
For corrections or updates, please contact us at [email protected]
AbilityOne Representatives Attend Grassroots Advocacy Conference
From June 12 through June 15 Nate Gunter and Gary Lane, Goodwill Omaha employees, joined other nonprofits in the SourceAmerica network at the 20th Grassroots Advocacy Conference in Washington, DC. Gunter, Assistant Project Manager, along with Lane, a valued employee, both work at Goodwill’s AbilityOne contract at Offutt Air Force Base in Bellevue, Nebraska. Goodwill Omaha’s AbilityOne program was just one of 50 nonprofits that had representatives present at the conference.
With approximately 200 attendees the conference connected self-advocates with disabilities to their representatives and senators. Conferences like Grassroots Advocacy allow those self-advocates to highlight the importance of creating employment opportunities and choices for people with disabilities. This conference gave Gunter and Lane, Goodwill Omaha’s representatives, the ability to advocate for programs like AbilityOne, defend the WIOA (Work Innovation and Opportunity Act).
“This year we focused on encouraging members of congress to increase what the government elects to pay out from .7 %to 1.5 %,” said Gunter. (Lets have Nate or Tobi give one or two more sentences on what this means)
The conference started off with registration and dinner where SourceAmerica CEO, Steve Soroka, introduced keynote speaker David Egan, Special Olympics athlete and advocate for others with disabilities. Tuesday, June 15 consisted of a full day of training Give an example of what training it was. Wednesday and Thursday the nonprofit attendees participated in a walk and engaged in meetings with lawmakers on Capitol Hill. A banquet was held Wednesday evening where Congressman Don Bacon and Senator Deb Fischer were in attendance.
Gunter also shared that because 2018 is an election year, there was more of a responsibility to defend and promote programs supporting the employment of people with disabilities.
When asked about Gunter’s experience with SourceAmerica, he stated, “Being able to see people from other AbilityOne programs was a big learning experience—people had the ability to share their stories and what they have been through and the help that the AbilityOne program has provided to them.”
We want to thank our community for continued support in programs such as AbilityOne. AbilityOne is just one of many programs that help us continue to fulfill our mission of changing lives and strengthening communities through education, training and work.
Written By: Josh Meyer
Sector Training Expands Mission Focus at Goodwill Omaha
Over the spring months of 2018, Goodwill Omaha developed a sector training program based on multiple community needs. The Mission Advancement team identified a nationally recognized retail training. After research was done it was determined that the training would be a good fit for the new program. At Goodwill we have a unique benefit of having access to our retail stores. This access provides real, on-the-job training in a real-life setting.
With the initial curriculum was built, we determined that a defined classroom space to practice these skills while teaching them would be very beneficial—in turn we created a mock retail store located in our headquarters building.
“We had a great trainer, Jen Driscoll. She developed the curriculum, trained and tested participants by working one-one-one with them daily. Jen made sure the program participants were successful and supported at all times” says Christine Aguilar, Director of Mission Training.
Our Employment Ready program assisted with the job readiness curriculum and our Business Solutions program worked with the participants during their training to identify employment goals. Employment Ready and Business Solutions worked together to achieve permanent employment opportunities for the participants.
“After reviewing the first cohort, we are very excited with the successful results and we plan to provide this training on an ongoing basis. We are also exploring other potential referral sources to expand the number of participants served” says Aguilar.
The first training class started on May 7, 2018 and concluded June 1, 2018. All four program participants successfully obtained certification. Two of the participants have secured full time employment. The other two participants are actively interviewing with local employers. Goodwill’s Business Solutions team continues to assist the participants with the employment and retention support.
“I enjoyed the opportunity to learn new skills and learn more about the operations of a retail store. I would one day like to own my own small retail store to provide fashionable items for women of all sizes,” said Michelle, one of the four program participants.
The new program is just one of many ways that Goodwill Omaha is proudly serving members of our community by changing lives through education, training, and work.
“We are looking forward to offering another class in the coming months,” says Aguilar.
Sector training opportunities are available to those in the community who desire training to increase their employability in order to secure employment.
Written By: Joshua Meyer
Kim Streit, A Story Behind the Store
Whizzing by with clothing in hand and a smile on her face, Kim Streit works hard to keep a clean sales floor full of fresh product at the 180th and Q Goodwill store. Kim is an ever positive 29 year old who was born with a cognitive learning disability. Having been born and raised in Gretna, Nebraska—Kim is blessed with a loving and supportive family who strives to go the extra mile to make sure she is provided opportunities to succeed in life.
Kindness is one of Kim’s strong suits, you will likely never catch her in bad mood, or without a smile on her face. Unfortunately, her kindness was also been taken advantage of in the past, which added a level of difficulty in building her social skills as she grew older.
“Socializing has never been one of Kim’s strong suits, but working at Goodwill has helped her come out of her shell,” says Denise, Kim’s mother.
Throughout her retail training in the Work Experience Program and her time working at Goodwill, Kim has made tremendous strides in her social interaction skills and has become much more personable.
Goodwill’s partnership with Kim came to fruition when she was enrolled in the Work Experience Program in August of 2006. For many, the Work Experience Program is the first step toward successful job placement through supportive training in our retail stores. During Kim’s time in the program, she learned vital skills in a supportive classroom setting and gained exposure to a real work environment in Goodwill’s retail stores.
Upon graduating from the Work Experience Program in March of 2009, Kim went on to part time work at Lucky-D’s Tack Shop in Gretna. To help with a smooth transition from student to employee, Kim was partnered with a job coach from Career Solutions through the Ollie Webb Center Inc. The job coach helped Kim become acclimated to her new surroundings and adapt to her new set of responsibilities.
Kim’s time at Lucky-D’s came to an end after the summer of 2009. Soon after Kim applied for a position at the 180th & Q Goodwill store. She was hired as a part time employee after interviewing with Janelle Ellis, who was the Store Manager at the time of Kim’s hire.
“While interviewing Kim, she smiled the entire time and I knew she could add so much value to our team with her can-do attitude and bright personality. She was going to fit in well with our team dynamics and make us even stronger. I just had to hire her! She was, and still is, a ray of sunshine. Kim started at Goodwill with her job coach from Career Solutions, my plan for her was to start off small and grow. She first learned how to put away tank tops, then once she was a pro at that, she moved on to putting away tank tops and short sleeve shirts. We worked in each clothing category for a day or two, then added another category. In about two months, she knew how to put all clothing away by size, color and category. Once she mastered that, we began on fitting room recovery. She would check the fitting rooms between putting away each clothing rack. She caught on quickly in each area. Her job coach was instrumental in her success as well as the rest of the Goodwill team. One doesn’t succeed without help from others, it takes a family to succeed. At first her job coach was coming in daily, then a couple times a week, then once a week. After about two months he approached me and stated that Kim told him he doesn’t need to come anymore. At that point we both knew that Kim had the confidence in her work and had adapted very well to the team. She was ready to do it all on her own,” said Janelle Ellis, who is now Assistant Director of Retail Sales at Goodwill. Kim has been a model employee at the 180th and Q store for eight years and will be celebrating her ninth anniversary with Goodwill on October 5, 2018. According to her current manager, Osama Rashan, “Kim arrives on time every day, works hard, and never calls in. Her current duties and responsibilities include greeting all customers, distributing processed clothing and household wares items and assisting customers with dressing rooms. Other duties that Kim helps with are cleaning the store and maintaining sales floor standards.”
“She is always willing to help where needed and has an amazing memory when it comes to scheduling. She even helps remind others of scheduling changes that occur.” says Osama.
“Structure is something Kim relies on in her life, she sometimes struggles with being flexible when unforeseen conflicts arise in her daily schedule.” says Denise, Kim’s mother.
As part of the mission of changing lives through education, training and work, Goodwill is able to offer Kim the structure to strive in her daily work life and is able to help her embrace flexibility by the means of retail’s ever-changing environment. Kim is also able to focus on her strong suits of memorization and consistency when working in the store. Kim’s strengths support the ongoing success of the 180th & Q store.
Kim is currently focused on living well, eating healthy and getting involved in social atmospheres aside from work.
“I like to hangout with friends and play games, my favorite board game is Sorry. I also love to go bowling with friends and family,” said Kim.
According to Kim’s parents, Goodwill has been able to help Kim in many ways. These ways include assisting Kim in building her self worth and confidence, while providing a supportive setting for social interaction. From a shy Work Experience student in 2006, to an outgoing employee today, Goodwill is proud to provide employment services to amazing people just like Kim. This is Kim’s story, just one of the many Stories Behind the Stores. Kim is an amazing young woman who has taken, and continues to take, steps to better herself—growing both personally and professionally.
Written by: Josh Meyer • Marketing Specialist
Bikes for Block Party
We kicked off summer at the Ames Avenue Block Party on Friday, June 1 at Heartland Workforce Solutions, along with other community partners. This year was the fifth annual Ames Avenue Block Party—a community event created to promote Omaha 360’s Harmony Week. The event promoted peace, education, and a sense of community through diversity. Stakeholders, community agencies, and generous sponsors put forth efforts to reduce barriers and gave access to resources such as healthcare providers, financial institutions, workforce development agencies, and many other community agencies.
Block Party Partner
With close to 500 attendees, it was an evening filled with activities and opportunities to increase individual and family success. Goodwill Omaha was named one of the 2018 partner agencies. This partnership gave our Employment Ready team the opportunity to be heavily involved in the planning process. YouthBuild Omaha and Employment Ready had tables at the Ames Avenue Block Party and were able to assist individuals in the community and spread awareness of Goodwill’s mission.
Programs Working Together
Our retail stores supported the event by donating children’s bikes for a free raffle drawing that youth could enter the names in. Prior to the event, Work Experience Trainer, Steve Andrews and Work Experience students took time to make sure the bikes were in tip top shape before being raffled off. Students helped make sure the chains, brakes, and tires were all in proper working condition. Teamwork between our mission programs is essential at Goodwill. All of our programs assist each other in some way, working toward the advancement of our mission—changing lives and strengthening communities through education, training, and work.
Written by: Josh Meyer • Marketing Specialist
Kick off the summer with the Ames Avenue Block Party – June 1
Bring your families and help us kick off summer at the Ames Avenue Block Party! Please join us on Friday, June 1, 2018 from 4:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. at Heartland Workforce Solutions at 5752 Ames Avenue.
The Ames Avenue Block Party is a community event created to promote Omaha 360’s Harmony Week. The event promotes peace, education and community by bringing together a diverse group of stakeholders to reduce barriers in accessing resources such as healthcare providers, financial institutions, workforce development agencies, as well as many other community agencies. These agencies will engage in positive activities with youth and families throughout the event.
Many thanks are in order to Boys Town and Heartland Workforce Solutions for leading and hosting the event efforts for the past five years. Year-over-year attendance has increased from 300 to over 1,000 participants.
Join us and enjoy free activities such as bounce houses, balloon artists, face painting and a variety of other opportunities – provided by our generous sponsors: First National Bank, Bank of the West, United Health Care and Centris Federal Credit Union.
Stop by the Goodwill Industries table to enter a raffle! Ten children’s bikes will be raffled off during the event, you must be present to win. Also, stop by the YouthBuild Omaha table to learn more about one of Goodwill’s many mission programs and hear about all of the great service the AmeriCorps members are providing in our community.
The goal of the Ames Avenue Block Party is to decrease community violence while increasing overall individual and family success.
Thank you to all of the service providers in attendance who link families to necessary supports and services within the North Omaha community.
Timeline for the event:
4:00 Event Begins
4:30 Matching Knights Steppers Performance
4:45 Invocation Fr Boes, Pastor Portia Cavitt & Faith Leaders
5:45 Dance Contest (Ages 8 and up)
6:00 Dance Contest (Ages 8 and under)
6:30 Goodwill Bike Raffle
7:00 Event Closing
Ames Avenue Block Party Contact:
Melissa Steffes – Community Engagement Development Officer