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!!!

 

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Meet Victoria – YouthBuild AmeriCorps

Victoria Irby

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

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

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

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

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

 

Chinese Checkers game board Victoria made

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

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

Victoria’s multi-purpose décor creation

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

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Story Behind The Store – Meet Yahwietuor

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

#STORIESBEHINDTHESTORES

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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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Mission In Action : Ahassan

 

Ahassan’s journey to Goodwill began nine months ago on the other side of the world. He arrived in Omaha in December 2016 with his family after fleeing persecution in his native country. His family was excited to reach Omaha but Ahassan knew that finding employment was an important first step while adjusting to their new home.

Ahassan shares his path to success with Goodwill Employment Specialists Sherri Kallon and Katy Young in Goodwill’s computer lab.

When Ahassan arrived in Omaha, he was assigned to an employment agency. Ahassan brings years of experience as a communications expert, is fluent in multiple languages and has several degrees and certifications. He needed an advocate to refer him to employers, provide a positive reference and help him navigate the Omaha labor market. Weeks and months passed and Ahassan was only offered positions outside his field and underutilizing his proven skills. He began to feel disheartened and unsure what the future would hold if he was not able to find a job.

The employment agency referred Ahassan to Goodwill’s Employment Ready Program to complete community service and gain exposure to the American working environment. The Employment Ready Program provides job readiness skills to anyone seeking employment assistance. Goodwill Employment Ready Specialist, Sherri Kallon explains, “When Ahassan first came to us. It was clear that he was struggling and had been let down many times. But it was also obvious that he is very intelligent and just needed someone to advocate for him.”

Sherri knew Ahassan was the perfect fit to intern in Goodwill’s computer lab. Immediately, he jumped at the opportunity to help other job seekers improve their computer skills while also researching education and job opportunities.

To enhance Ahassan’s employment search, Sherri engaged her colleague Katy Young from Goodwill’s Business Solutions Program. Business Solutions works directly with area companies to help fill their open positions. Sherri and Katy began sending Ahassan multiple job opportunities in his field. While Ahassan completed applications, Sherri and Katy worked their magic behind-the-scenes. Once Ahassan submitted his resume, Katy was quick to follow up with the company’s hiring manager to provide a positive reference. Their extra attention made the difference for Ahassan. After just two weeks at Goodwill, Ahassan interviewed and was offered the perfect position in his field.

Ahassan has been astounded by the personalized attention he received at Goodwill, saying, “Sherri and Katy are wonderful assets to Goodwill. They helped me find the perfect job and I am very grateful. Goodwill is doing amazing things in the community every day!” Join Goodwill as we wish Ahassan good luck in his new position. We know that he too will be doing amazing things in our community!

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The Power of Work: Support Goodwill with Omaha Gives!

Goodwill Omaha is proud to be participating again in Omaha Gives!, a 24-hour charitable challenge organized by the Omaha Community Foundation. The online giving holiday will take place May 24 from midnight to midnight.  This year 100 percent of funds raised through Omaha Gives! is going directly to Goodwill’s Business Solutions Program.

The goal of Business Solutions is to assist job seekers in finding permanent, self-sustaining employment in the community. Our team connects with companies across the Omaha metro area to learn about their business and hiring needs. We then work to match those needs with individuals served by Goodwill and other community agencies.

Thanks to Goodwill’s Business Solutions program one of our participants, Jenni, was able to reach of her goal of finding employment in the medical field.

Like many of the individuals Goodwill’s helps, Jenni had a career goal but wasn’t quite sure how to reach that goal – Jennie wanted to break into the medical field.   Being a single parent without any formal job experience was difficult.

“I was trying to find a job in the medical field but was faced with difficulties because employers wanted someone with experience,” said Jenni. Our goal is help participants like Jenni who need an extra hand finding a job that fits their interests. “It was great working with Melanie, a Business Solutions Specialist. She was very helpful in trying to get me a job. We re-created my resume and eventually connected me with Hillcrest Nursing Home where I have been working since January,” said Jenni.

Because of Goodwill’s Business Solutions program Jenni is well on her way to achieving her goals and is looking forward to what the future holds for her and her son.

Help us continue to change lives and strengthen our community by giving to Goodwill during Omaha Gives!

 

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Participant of the Quarter

img_1771Having a physical disability hasn’t stopped our Participant of the Quarter from achieving goals that he has set for himself.

Meet Dahir Talasow, 18, a Summer Work Experience student at our Benson Park store. Dahir uses a wheelchair due to a spinal cord injury, but that doesn’t stop him from (doing various tasks) around the store.

“Overcoming personal challenges is something that Dahir is working on and he has a positive attitude to achieve success. Dahir’s mother told him that would be unable to work due to his disability, “said Sam Comfort Dahir’s WE Trainer. “Dahir was referred to Goodwill by Nebraska Vocational Rehabilitation for Pre-Employment Transition Services,” said Sam. He came ready to work each day.”

“Dahir used public transportation to attend Summer Work Experience every day for six weeks,” said Sam. Working at Goodwill is Dahir’s first job. He has learned various employment task that will help him to gain employment.

“Dahir has demonstrated a superior work ethic. He regularly arrives at work early for scheduled meeting with VR and has, with assistance, submitted several applications for employment,” said Sam. I was able to see Dahir in action working our donation door with Tommy Jones. He seemed happy to be able to work at his own pace and to interact with others.

Dahir was featured in an article in the Omaha World Herald were he talked about how the summer Work Experience has impacted his life and helped to achieve his goals.
Congratulations Dahir on being our Participant of the Quarter.

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Meet Michael, our YouthBuild Participant of the Quarter

Goodwill's career services helped Michael change his life.

Before YouthBuild, Michael’s life was not easy. He experienced bouts of homelessness and was a high school dropout.

“My life was horrible,” said Michael. “I was just sitting around wasting time. I couldn’t keep a job.”

It was a radio ad for Goodwill’s YouthBuild program that encouraged him to apply. While he wasn’t completely convinced the program would be a good fit, Michael enrolled anyway. After two weeks of probationary mental toughness exercises, Michael knew YouthBuild was for him. He was finally going to receive the help and support he needed to find a better place in his life.

Shortly afterwards, Michael made some bad decisions. He was convicted of a felony and was incarcerated. For the next two months, Michael sat in his cell, thinking about how he ruined his chance of changing his life. But the YouthBuild staff didn’t give up on him. They helped Michael work through the corrections system, keeping him on track to be released on time. Michael was able to re-enroll in YouthBuild, and in just one month he passed his required GED tests.

According to YouthBuild Manager Norman Barnes, Michael continues to strive for success. “Michael has served as a role model to other Youthbuild participants in the current class. He continues to provide leadership while involved in the follow-up process.”

Currently, Michael is taking classes at Metro Community College and working a full-time job that Goodwill helped him secure. He hopes to become a counselor and work with at-risk youth.

Without Goodwill, Michael doesn’t know where he’d be.

“I wish every person who is struggling like I did could have Goodwill. They made a big impact in my life,” said Michael.

When you shop at Goodwill thrift stores and donate to Goodwill, you help us change the lives of people like Michael.

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Honoring Those Who Have Served

Photo credit: google.com

The U.S. Veterans Administration notes that 22 million veterans have reintegrated back into civilian life since World War I. That reintegration often proves difficult for veterans as they face numerous challenges, including finding meaningful employment to support themselves and their families. They lack the skills, education and credentials for jobs in the current marketplace. Many also have physical and emotional disabilities, including post-traumatic stress disorder. Still others face non-work-related challenges such as lack of health care, child care, housing and transportation.

At Goodwill Omaha, we strive to streamline re-entry and reduce the stressors of an already challenging time in the lives of returning military members. Many veterans who approach Goodwill for career services are surprised to find that they can gain much more than just job search assistance.

Goodwill Omaha employs veterans throughout our retail, employment and training, contracts and administrative divisions.

At our October Town Hall, we honored 18 of those veterans. Goodwill employees who have served in the Army, Navy, Air Force, and Coast Guard were given plaques and gift cards as a small token of our appreciation for their dedicated service to our country. Veteran Tom Bessey represented the group, telling the audience what his service means to him. He then led the group in a moment of silence for our fallen heroes.

Thank you to all the veterans who have served our country.

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