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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See what’s happening at 72nd & Ames

I’d like you all to meet Paul. He’s a student in our Work Experience Program at the Blair store, and for the past month, he has been job shadowing in our Marketing department.

Paul is very interested in video. He’s made music videos (one of his videos was so impressive, the band Kansas gave him a shout-out), instructional programs and interviews, all using his handheld HD camera and some exceptionally creative camera work and detailed editing. He’d like to pursue a career in video production, so this week, we decided to make a short video showing off the programs and services here at our 72nd & Ames headquarters.

First, Paul and I sat down to work on a script. We broke it up into two parts — the sections he would be hosting on-camera, and the sections he would be voicing over footage of our programs. Once we were satisfied with that, we headed outside to shoot his standups. The plan was that I would shoot the scenes in which Paul was on camera, but he would shoot and direct everything else. Paul also oversaw the editing process, as we reviewed our footage, selected our best takes, and assembled our final edit. We finished this 90-second project from scratch in just under two hours!

Work Experience is Goodwill Omaha’s oldest program, having been active since the 1960s. In Work Experience, students from area high schools in special education programs have an opportunity to work at Goodwill stores in a supportive environment. At the stores, they gain a variety of practical work experience, including retail production, custodial and clerical tasks, better preparing to take their first steps transitioning from an educational setting to the professional working world.

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Closing out the Summer Work Experience session

We told you about the Summer Work Experience session back in the July issue of the Clothes Line. But in case you missed it, it’s a new program that gives special education students who just completed their high school education an opportunity to gain exposure to work situations in a supportive environment while expanding their job-readiness skills.

Six young people with disabilities have worked at Goodwill’s Benson Park Plaza headquarters this summer, performing a number of duties on both the administrative side of Goodwill and the retail production side. They also work with Trainer Jen Hoye on job-readiness skills like interview practice, preparing job applications and exploring career opportunities.

The students wanted to close out their time this summer with a fun video, so below you can see the Summer Work Experience crew in their very own Harlem Shake performance. Take it away, team! And congratulations on your successful summer — it has been great having you around!

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Congratulations Donna Miller!

Donna Miller (right) with READY Specialist Sandy Ferrucci

Donna Miller has entered uncharted territory — she is the first student of Goodwill Omaha’s free computer classes to earn all four Microsoft Office certificates — Word, Excel, PowerPoint and Access. Congratulations, Donna!

READY offers basic computer classes in Microsoft Office’s most popular programs. Students receive individual tutoring in a classroom setting, with one-on-one assistance and the freedom to work at their own speeds in Goodwill’s computer lab. Classes are held Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays from 4 p.m. to 5 p.m. at Goodwill’s Benson Park Plaza location, 4805 N 72nd St.

Call READY Specialist Sandy Ferrucci at (402) 231-1978 for more information!

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24 Hours of Goodwill Omaha: Chris Parker

To support Goodwill and the opportunities it provides to people like Chris to achieve self-sufficiency through the power of work, please consider making a gift today as part of Omaha Gives!, the 24-hour online-giving event through the Omaha Community Foundation. In addition to supporting our employment and training programs for people with disabilities and other disadvantages, your gift to Goodwill during Omaha Gives! makes us eligible for matching funds from other generous supporters. Visit our Omaha Gives! page to make a gift today.

Thank you!

As a teenager, Chris Parker lived for the day, giving little thought to his responsibilities, his future, or even his safety. His mother had passed away, and most of his friends seemed destined for jail – or worse.

“I was in a bad place,” he deadpanned.

Then the birth of his first child shocked him into a new reality. He got serious and took control of his life. He finished high school – step one – but with few job prospects and no prior work history, he faced an uncertain future.

Chris met Partnership Case Manager Garry Kern, who would channel Chris’s newfound motivation into a brighter future. The trades interested him, perhaps carpentry or electrical work. After a few job-shadowing experiences, he made up his mind: plumbing. That was the career for him.

Chris earned an apprenticeship at Associated Builders and Contractors, where he divides his time between training and hands-on experience. He also works on the maintenance crew at an apartment complex.

And he got married. In fact, his wife, DaWanna Wren, joined Chris on a trip to Washington D.C. for Goodwill’s annual Advocacy Day on Capitol Hill, and the trip served as their honeymoon. Yes, they were able to squeeze in a little dining and sight-seeing, too.

Chris spoke about how the Partnership program — funded by Workforce Investment Act dollars — changed his life, and his story seemed to resonate with his listeners.

“So often, as a Senator, you don’t get to hear how these programs really affect people,” said Nebraska Sen. Mike Johanns. “Thank you for coming here and telling your story.”

Visit GoodwillOmaha.org/OmahaGives to make a gift today.

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