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!


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Written By: Josh Meyer

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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.


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Written By: Josh Meyer

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Goodwill Industries Celebrates 115 Years of Changing Lives

Goodwill Industries Celebrates 115 Years of Changing Lives

During the week of May 6, 2018 we will be celebrating Goodwill Industries Week—along with 115 years of building better futures and changing lives. Goodwill Industries Week was first celebrated in May of 1951. It is a way to encourage local Goodwill organizations to educate their communities about their missions. At Goodwill Omaha our mission is to change lives through education, training, and work—by serving individuals and businesses in eastern Nebraska and southwestern Iowa.

Hand-Up Not a Hand Out 

In 1902 Reverend Edgar J. Helms went from door to door in Boston asking not for money, but for clothing in need of repair. Helms employed people facing challenges by having them mend the clothes for a daily wage. By selling those clothes back to the community, Goodwill’s mission was born. Helms believed in giving people a chance, not charity. He also believed there is more dignity in receiving a hand-up, not a hand-out. When people learn the skills to earn their own pay checks they have the power to transform lives and communities. Goodwill has grown from humble origins into an international non-profit organization. We provide employment placement, job training services and other important services to millions of people.

Goodwill Omaha’s Programs and Services

While programs and services have changed over the years, our mission of changing lives through education, training, and work has stayed true. Below are programs and services Goodwill Omaha currently provides.

  • Ability One – Provides part-time job opportunities for individuals with disabilities in a supportive and integrated work environment at several federal properties.
  • Business Solutions – Meets the needs of local employers by connecting them with quality applicants and providing ongoing support.
  • Employment Ready – Provides free one-on-one job readiness services to anyone who is unemployed or under-employed in the Omaha metro, Council Bluffs, or Fremont areas.
  • Hire Nebraska – Puts Nebraskans to work as they transition from public assistance to life-changing employment.
  • Work Experience – Offers high school special education students, who are nearing completion of high school education, an opportunity to gain exposure to a work situation in a supportive environment.
  • Volunteer & Community Service –  We thrive on the support of our community and those who volunteer their time. Providing the opportunity to complete approved court ordered hours of service is another way we support those in our community.
  • YouthBuild Omaha – A national education, leadership, development, and occupational skill-training program for disadvantaged young adults. YouthBuild is a proud partner of the American Job Center Network.

In 2017, Goodwill Omaha served 1,797 people through our mission programs. Hosting a total of 35 hiring events—230 jobs were found by Goodwill participants. The average hourly wage of Goodwill participants placed in jobs was $12.16. Through our programs and services, we are able to continue our mission of changing lives through education, training, and work. We provide free tours to the public for a behind the scenes look at our organization, by appointment. For contact information and more details about our programs and services, click here.

Involved in Goodwill

Being involved in our community is a key component to what makes our mission programs and services so impactful. You can become involved with Goodwill Omaha through the various events we host and participate in. To find out more about our upcoming events, click here. You can also support our life-changing mission by shopping and donating at your local Goodwill retail location. When you purchase items from Goodwill, those dollars go directly to the support needs of our programs and services. Click here to view a listing of our locations.


JoshMeyer-MarketingSpecialist

Written by: Josh Meyer • Marketing Specialist
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Show Respect, Take the Pledge, End the Word

Would you pledge to stop using a word that hurts others, is exclusive, offensive, and derogatory? Such words can be applied in everyday conversation without the user being aware of the impact they have on others. One commonly misused, derogatory word is the R-word, which refers to “retard” or “retarded”. On the first Wednesday of every March, thousands of people are pledging to show respect and refrain from using this word by uniting to Spread the Word to End the Word.

 

RECOGNIZE

Wednesday, March 7, 2018 Goodwill Omaha hosted a public event—a panel discussion regarding empowerment and employment of people with disabilities. Respect was the theme of the day. Sam Comfort, Work Experience Coordinator for Goodwill Omaha, acknowledged the fact that language impacts attitude and attitude affects action. Spread the Word to End the Word poses as a time to recognize that all people deserve respect and our community should be free from harmful and offensive words such as “retard” and “retarded”. Refreshments and popcorn were provided as Goodwill debuted a screening of the 2018 Spread the Word to End the Word video . The video focuses on respect for all individuals and gave Goodwill’s Work Experience students the opportunity to say what they would like to be called in place of the R-Word.

 

REVIEW

A guest panel was invited to discuss the importance of respect, diversity, and inclusion. Brice Meyer, Planet Fitness Regional Manager for Nebraska and Iowa, was invited to talk about his experience in employing persons with disabilities. Michaela Ahrens, Senior Director of PACE/Programs at Autism Action Partnership, encouraged everyone in the community to “join us in efforts to increase the inclusiveness and support in the community so that people with any type of disability are able to fully participate in community life. Whether it’s where they go to school, where they work, where they worship, or where they play.” 

Rachel Mulligan, Special Olympics of Nebraska athlete, and Kasey Haynes, who is employed with Culver’s and receives services from Crossroads of Western Iowa, joined the panel to answer questions of how people can show respect to those with disabilities. Kasey’s sister, Kerry Haynes, a Special Education Teacher at Fremont Public Schools, was able to provide great insight about being a sibling to a person with a disability. As an advocate for persons with disabilities, Edison McDonald, Executive Director at The Arc of Nebraska, enlightened us on the barriers that people with disabilities continue to face. We want to give a special thanks to all of our panel participants for being involved in spreading the word to end the word. Click here to view the full panel discussion.

Customers shopping and donating at Goodwill Omaha retail locations also had the opportunity to take the pledge and Spread the Word to End the Word. Work Experience students made popcorn for shoppers while inviting them to sign a Spread the Word to End the Word banner. “The Work Experience students felt encouraged to be interacting with customers on their own behalf”, said Christin Graff, Work Experience Trainer in Fremont.  

 

RESPECT

Each and every one of us has the opportunity to be the next person who will take a step forward and create a more inclusive and accepting community for those who are affected by the R-Word. For more news and events on how you can help be an advocate for those with disabilities in your community, visit Goodwill Omaha. Will you take the pledge to show respect?

 

2018 Spread the Word to End the Word Event Photos

 

 

 

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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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Spread the Word to End the Word

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Spread the Word to End the Word is an ongoing effort by Special Olympics, Best Buddies and our community supporters, like Goodwill, to inspire respect and acceptance through raising the consciousness of society about the R-word and how hurtful words and disrespect can be toward people with intellectual disabilities.

Using the term retard or retarded belittles people with intellectual disabilities. Spread the Word to End the Word is a day dedicated to educating people about the negative impact the “r” word has. By eliminating the “r” word from our culture, we can build a more inclusive and caring community.

March 1, 2017  all Goodwill locations will participate and advocate for eliminating the “r” word for our vocabulary.

Goodwill Impact 2016

  •  Goodwill’s Work Experience program enrolled 249 special education high school students from local high schools
  • Work Experience students earned a total of $279,820.25 in wages while gaining hands-on experience in a workplace setting
  • Work Experience is housed at nine locations throughout the Metro area
  • Our AbilityOne contract employs 122 individuals, 96 of which who identify as having a disability
  • AbilityOne employees service over 1.2 million square feet of property in federal buildings located in Omaha, Lincoln and
    Grand Island

Respectful and inclusive language is essential to the movement for the dignity and humanity of people with intellectual disabilities. However, much of society does not recognize the hurtful, dehumanizing and exclusive effects of the R-word.

Language affects attitudes. Attitudes impact actions. Make your pledge for #Respect today at www.R-word.org.

 

 

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National Disability Employement Awarness Month!

October is National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM). The purpose is to educate others about disability employment issues and celebrate the many and varied contributions of America’s workers with disabilities. Held annually, National Disability Employment Awareness Month is led by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Disability Employment Policy.

Accord2016posterenglishing to Department of Labor statistics, the unemployment rate for people with disabilities is twice that of the general population, and they are also nearly three times more likely to
live in poverty than those without disabilities. These are issues Goodwill is working hard to eliminate everyday through our Mission Advancement programs, specifically AbilityOne and Work Experience. We are all intimidated by things we do not know. Disability is a common experience that we all share. However, without an understanding of disability, we may have difficulty capitalizing on the talents of people with disabilities.

The Job Accommodation Network (AskJAN.org) is an information resource which helps develop a more inclusive workplace for individuals with disabilities, and can help develop skills to more effectively communicate at work with people with disabilities.

When working with people with disabilities, the primary emphasis is to insure everyone focuses on abilities. After all, it is abilities and productivity that matter at work.

 

Here are a few helpful hints from AskJan when working with a person with a disability:
• Be considerate of the extra time it may take a person with a disability to walk, talk, write or perform a task.
• Smile and look a person with a disability in the eyes, as you would with anyone else.
• Talk directly to the person with a disability, not their companion, assistant or sign language interpreter.
• Watch your language – use people first language. Only mention a disability if it is essential to a conversation.
• Sit down when speaking for more than a few minutes with a person who uses a wheelchair so you are at eye level.
• Extend your hand to shake if that is what you normally do. A person who cannot shake hands will let you know.
• Don’t be afraid to say that you do not understand. Listen, observe body language, paraphrase, clarify, summarize and show you are eager to understand.
• Ask the person first – before assisting or advocating for a person, always ask if and how you can help.
• Ask the person what they think will work to overcome a workplace challenge before deciding on an accommodation.
• Respect personal space as you would with anyone else.
• Do not treat people like they are less than.
• If a person is in crisis, ask what you can do to help.

All play an important part in fostering a more inclusive workforce, one where every person is recognized for his or her abilities — every day of every month.

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Congressman Brad Ashford Becomes AbilityOne Champion

Congressman Ashford meets with AbilityOne employees in Washington D.C. and Omaha

Congressman Ashford meets with AbilityOne employees in Washington D.C. and Omaha

Today, we recognize and congratulate Congressman Brad Ashford on becoming the first AbilityOne Champion in Nebraska’s current Congressional Delegation.

An AbilityOne Champion is a congressperson that has pledged to support the important job opportunities created by  AbilityOne contracts.  These contracts create employment for thousands of people with disabilities nationwide, while providing important services to the federal government.

There are four steps one must take in order to become a Champion. They are:

  • Visit an AbilityOne site
  • Meet with an AbilityOne program participant in your Washington D.C. or local office
  • Use AbilityOne products in your offices
  • Advocate for AbilityOne on the floor of the House or Senate, on Social Media, or through a letter

Goodwill Omaha operates AbilityOne programs at five different sites throughout the state, from Offutt Air Force Base to the VA Hospital in Grand Island.  This spring, Congressman Ashford visited our AbilityOne site at the Zorinsky Federal building in Omaha.  During his time there, he met a number of Goodwill employees who have had their lives changed through their work with AbilityOne.

Thanks again to Congressman Ashford for showing support of AbilityOne and employment opportunities for people with disabilities.

You can learn more about the AbilityOne program here: http://www.abilityone.org/.

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