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]

Goodwill to Host OPS Transition Parent Teacher Conferences and Resource Fair

On February 7, 2019 from 12:00pm to 7:00pm, Goodwill Industries will host the 2019 Omaha Public Schools (OPS) Parent Teacher Conferences for transition students. Transition students are individuals with disabilities nearing the end of their high school careers.  Goodwill provides vocational training to OPS transition students through the Work Experience program.

During parent teacher conferences, Goodwill will also simultaneously host the first annual Disability Resource Fair. The fair provides students, parents and educators an opportunity to meet with more than 30 local agencies who provide support and services for individuals with disabilities such as day programs, residential, transportation, employment services, college opportunities and more. Participating agencies include Autism Action Partnership, Easter Seals NE, Gotta Be Me, Metropolitan Community College, Nebraska Transition College, PTI Nebraska, Special Olympics, and Vocational Rehabilitation, among others.

 For Information Contact:

Sam Comfort
Work Experience Coordinator
Goodwill Industries, Inc.
Phone: 402-951-2918
[email protected]

2-7-19-OPS-ResourceFair

Press Release – U.S. Department of Labor Awards $85 Million in YouthBuild Grants

GOODWILL OMAHA RECEIVES $895,437 GRANT FROM U.S. DEPARTMENT OF LABOR
FOR YOUTHBUILD AMERICORPS PROGRAM

 (Omaha, NE, January 31, 2019) – The U.S. Department of Labor’s (DOL) YouthBuild program has a network of more than 200 urban and rural YouthBuild programs in 46 states. On January 31, 2019, the U.S. Department of Labor announced that $85 million in grants have been awarded to 81 YouthBuild programs in 32 states. The grants range from approximately $700,000 to $1.1 million. DOL informed Goodwill Omaha that its YouthBuild AmeriCorps was awarded $895,437 to fund the program for two years in 2019 and 2020.

YouthBuild is an education and training program with a strong pre-apprenticeship component that helps at-risk youth complete high school or state equivalency degree programs. While doing so, participants earn industry-recognized credentials for in-demand occupations, and undergo training to build housing for low-income or homeless individuals and families in their communities.

“The YouthBuild program provides invaluable opportunities for young adults in our community to achieve their employment, education and service goals.  We are extremely proud to be able to administer this program once again, in partnership with AmeriCorps,” said Tobi Mathouser, Goodwill’s Director of Mission Advancement.

The grants awarded this year mark a significant expansion of YouthBuild’s Construction Plus model which allows grantees to offer training in locally in-demand industries beyond construction in fields such as healthcare, information technology, hospitality and retail services, and logistics. To learn about the U.S Department of Labor YouthBuild program, please visit www.doleta.gov/youth_services/youthbuild.cfm.

Goodwill Omaha’s YouthBuild AmeriCorps program is a nine-month educational, leadership, development and occupational skill-training program for disadvantaged young adults. Member’s ages range between 16 to 24 and are underemployed and do not have a high school diploma. The Monday through Friday program runs from 9:00 am to 4:00 p.m. with time split between classroom instruction and hands-on construction work. YouthBuild AmeriCorps is also a proud partner of the American Job Center network.

“I’m excited to further Goodwill’s mission by providing vital services to the young people we work with in our community,” said Norman Barnes, Goodwill’s YouthBuild AmeriCorps Manager.

YouthBuild AmeriCorps four areas of focus are paid construction training and education, leadership training, case management and follow-up services.

For more information, please contact Norman Barnes, YouthBuild AmeriCorps Manager:
Goodwill Industries – 4805 N. 72nd Street, Omaha, Nebraska 68134
Phone: (402) 522-7231 or [email protected]

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Mark Ellerbrake Retires After 28 Years of Service

Mark Ellerbrake Retires After 28 Years of Service


Meet Mark

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.

Mark Ellerbrake retires after 28 years of service

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!


Josh Author Photo

Written By: Josh Meyer

AbilityOne Representatives Attend Grassroots Advocacy Conference

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.


Josh Author Photo

Written By: Josh Meyer

Press Release – United Way of the Midlands Awards $37,578 to Fund YouthBuild Omaha

 

For Immediate Release                                   

July 17, 2018

United Way of the Midlands Awards $37,578 to Goodwill Industries, Inc. Grant to Fund YouthBuild Omaha

(Omaha, NE) Goodwill Industries, Inc., Serving Eastern Nebraska & Southwest Iowa is pleased to announce it was recently awarded a $37,578 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 skills 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 first 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 the young adults enrolled in the program, and introduce innovative new learning processes.

“United Way’s support for this program is greatly appreciated by Goodwill and the YouthBuild Omaha program, and many lives will change in a positive way, thanks to all who made a contribution,” 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:
Christine Aguilar – Director of Mission Training
Goodwill Industries, Inc., Serving Eastern Nebraska & Southwest Iowa
402-341-4609
[email protected]

 

 

 

 

Sector Training Expands Mission Focus at Goodwill Omaha

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.  

Results

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

Press Release – YouthBuild Omaha Members Celebrate In Graduation Ceremony

For Immediate Release

July 11, 2018

YouthBuild Omaha Members Celebrate In Graduation Ceremony

 (Omaha, NE) Tomorrow 23 young adults dressed in cap and gown will eagerly wait behind closed doors in anticipation of walking down the aisle in their very own YouthBuild Omaha graduation ceremony. As Pomp and Circumstance plays overhead, YouthBuild Omaha members will begin the procession to the next steps of their lives, while being recognized for months of hard work, dedication and personal development.

We invite members of our community to join us in this special ceremony.

On Thursday, July 12, 2018 at 3:00 p.m., the YouthBuild Omaha Class of 2018 will be recognized for their efforts over the last ten months. The ceremony will commence at Goodwill Headquarters at 4805 North 72nd Street in Omaha. YouthBuild Omaha is a national educational, leadership development and occupational skills-training program for disadvantaged young adults and is a proud partner of the American Job Center Network.

YouthBuild taps the talent and energy of young people in Omaha to rebuild their neighborhoods and improve their lives. YouthBuild is a program for individuals who have struggled with traditional school and faced multiple barriers who are looking to make a change in their lives. YouthBuild provides them the needed support to take their next positive step in life. During their time in YouthBuild Omaha, these young adults have learned to overcome those obstacles, and they have developed a new set of tools for a successful future.

Over the course of ten months, YouthBuild Omaha members learned a number of new skills in the construction trade. Members are provided the opportunity to earn multiple certifications including High School Diploma, Home Builders Institute certification, First Aid/CPR and Occupational Safety and Health Administration certification (OSHA).

Please join us for this joyous occasion. The event will include a brief program overview, member awards, a brief presentation from Iowa Western Athlete Ja’Chai Baker and YouthBuild Omaha alumni members, and last but not least, the turning of tassels for the graduating members.

Available On-Site:

Available for interviews/quotes: YouthBuild Omaha graduates, alumni and staff,
Goodwill President & CEO Dr. Michael McGinnis.

Available for photos: All YouthBuild Omaha graduates and alumni have a photo release on file.

For Information Contact:

Ann Woodford
Marketing Manager
Goodwill Omaha
402-231-1919
[email protected]

YouthBuild  Omaha LogoAmeriCorps Logo

Press Release – Young Adults Gain Valuable Job Training at Goodwill

For Immediate Release

July 2, 2018                           

 

Young Adults Gain Valuable Job Training at Goodwill

 

(Omaha, NE) On Tuesday, July 3 from 8:30 a.m. to 10:30 a.m., approximately 20-30 young adults in the STEP-UP Omaha! program will be visiting Goodwill, at 704 Gold Coast Drive in Papillion, for an educational morning coupled with volunteer service.

STEP-UP Omaha! provides jobs and paid internship opportunities young adults during the summer. Program participants gain valuable job training, work experience, vocational training, academic recovery and remediation, life skills training and community service opportunities. STEP-UP Omaha! is an initiative by the Empowerment Network and the City of Omaha in collaboration with community partners, including the Urban League of Nebraska.

During their time at Goodwill, participants will begin with an overview and introduction presented by Goodwill’s Employment Ready Manager, Megan Sharpe. Employment Ready, a program funded by Goodwill retail revenue, provides free one-on-one job readiness services to anyone who is unemployed or under-employed in the Omaha Metro and surrounding areas. Employment Ready can help any individual in need of employment assistance and provide referrals to additional community resources.

Megan will share information and best practices on first impressions when looking for work followed by a short question and answer session. Students will then break into smaller groups, one touring the sales floor and front area and the second group to tour the back room and processing area of Goodwill. Groups will then switch, allowing all young adults to get a full tour of Goodwill’s retail operations.

After the tours, the participants will have a group discussion on what jobs they found most interesting, as well as a chance to ask specific questions related to the jobs and processes they learned about. To conclude the experience, the young adults will participate in a volunteer opportunity where they will spend some time getting hands on experience in different roles within the Goodwill retail store.

The goal of this partnership is to provide students with an opportunity to witness how a Goodwill store operates as well as to learn what it takes to apply, interview and work successfully in a retail setting.

Available On-Site:

Megan Sharpe, Goodwill Employment Ready Manager and Vanetta Early, STEP-Up Omaha! Job Coach will be available for interviews. Students will also be available for video/photo opportunities with signed releases.

 

For Information Contact:

Ann Woodford

Marketing Manager

Goodwill Omaha

402-231-1919

[email protected]

To download the press release, please click here.

 

 

 

Kim Streit, A Story Behind the Store

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.

Kim Distributing Softlines Back to Camera

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.

Kim Streit Distributing Clothing Facing Camera

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.

Kim Streit Distributing Hardline Facing Camera

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.”

Kim Streit pushing wares cart not facing camera

“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 Streit distributing hardlines

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.

Kim Streit Smiles while helping coworkers

 


Written by: Josh Meyer • Marketing Specialist