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
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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
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Bikes for Block Party

Bikes for Block Party

We kicked off summer at the Ames Avenue Block Party on Friday, June 1 at Heartland Workforce Solutions, along with other community partners. This year was the fifth annual Ames Avenue Block Party—a community event created to promote Omaha 360’s Harmony Week. The event promoted peace, education, and a sense of community through diversity. Stakeholders, community agencies, and generous sponsors put forth efforts to reduce barriers and gave access to resources such as healthcare providers, financial institutions, workforce development agencies, and many other community agencies.

Block Party Partner

With close to 500 attendees, it was an evening filled with activities and opportunities to increase individual and family success. Goodwill Omaha was named one of the 2018 partner agencies. This partnership gave our Employment Ready team the opportunity to be heavily involved in the planning process. YouthBuild Omaha and Employment Ready had tables at the Ames Avenue Block Party and were able to assist individuals in the community and spread awareness of Goodwill’s mission.

Programs Working Together

Our retail stores supported the event by donating children’s bikes for a free raffle drawing that youth could enter the names in. Prior to the event, Work Experience Trainer, Steve Andrews and Work Experience students took time to make sure the bikes were in tip top shape before being raffled off. Students helped make sure the chains, brakes, and tires were all in proper working condition. Teamwork between our mission programs is essential at Goodwill. All of our programs assist each other in some way, working toward the advancement of our mission—changing lives and strengthening communities through education, training, and work.


JoshMeyer-MarketingSpecialist

Written by: Josh Meyer • Marketing Specialist
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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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Penny-Pinching for the Perfect DIY Prom Dress

Penny-Pinching for the Perfect DIY Prom Dress

Finding the perfect dress for prom has become taxing. With so many fits, colors, and styles to choose from—it can be difficult to know where to start looking. Oh yeah, lets not forget about that price tag either. As a result, you may not always be satisfied with the hunt of that perfect prom dress. So why not create your own? Learn how to re-purpose a dress into a DIY creation and restore the fun in your prom experience.

What’s in this prom season?

After doing some research, we have put together a list of what you might find to be in style this prom season.

  • Lace Detail and Overlay
  • Pastel Colors
  • Ultra Violet
  • Off the Shoulder
  • High Slits
  • Plunging Necklines
  • Two-Piece Dresses
  • Halter Tops
  • Chiffon

While these may be great suggestions for this season. Don’t be afraid to express yourself and get creative. Think outside the box.

Where to find your dress.

Try Goodwill, no seriously, you would be amazed at the selection of dresses most Goodwill stores have. Frequently visiting your favorite Goodwill retail location will give you an advantage as new product comes in daily. If you have never shopped at a Goodwill before, you’ll probably want to start. You can save your pretty pennies and score some awesome finds. While there are DIY-ers that create their own prom dresses, we suggest repurposing instead of starting from scratch. This will give you a head start in creating your masterpiece. Need some inspiration? Click here to find a gallery of DIY prom dress ideas.

Creating your perfect prom dress.

You may find a dress you like, but may not be quite head over heels for. There’s a solution for that! Do you have sewing skills? If not, try finding a friend who can help you in that area. Adding different materials such as lace and chiffon can create layers and add to the wow factor of your dress. It’s a great way to get the look you are going for without too much work. Not a lover of lace or chiffon? It can be just as easy to remove. You can also use crystals to create a dress that captures and reflects light in all the right places.

You’ll be able to find those supplies at your local fabric or craft store such as: Hobby Lobby or Michael’s. If you are up for a challenge, Wendy gives you a great tutorial on making a custom chiffon dress. You may also want to check out her blog, With Wendy, for more amazing DIY ideas.

Finding the right fit.

If you fall in love with a dress that isn’t your size and needs some updating, don’t fret. Be open to the idea of having your dress tailored. You can expand your selection by doing so. Finding a good tailor may seem tough, but there are plenty of tailors out there who specialize in custom fits. Scheduling a fitting with your tailor before the work begins is also important. Your fitting will give you the opportunity to communicate your vision and build a relationship with your tailor of choice.

Don’t be afraid to ask for what you want. You might be surprised at what your tailor can do. Communication is key. You want to give your tailor as much direction as possible. As a result of having a custom fit, you can make a statement with your now one-of-a-kind dress that looks and feels custom made just for you. In the blog post What Every Woman Should Know About Looking Better in Clothes Zac Posen says “The right tailoring can make any garment work for any body”. You can follow Zac on twitter for more inspiration.

Share your creation.

We encourage you to share your creations with us! Use the hashtag #PromAtGoodwill if you found your dress, or any part of your ensemble at one our Goodwill Omaha locations. Be sure to tag us at @goodwillomaha for a chance to be featured on our social media pages. At Goodwill, our mission is to change lives and strengthen communities through education, training, and work. When you shop with Goodwill Omaha you are directly supporting our programs and employment services here in our community.


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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Noah Wegener & Sam Comfort Talk Work Experience with Mike’l Severe – The Bottom Line – 1/25/18

Listen in as Work Experience student Noah Wegener and Work Experience Coordinator Sam Comfort talk about Noah’s experience looking for treasures, as well as other employment skills gained while working at Goodwill.

Click here to listen!

Huge thanks to The Bottom Line with Mike’l Sever for providing this opportunity to share Noah’s story.

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Washington County Gives!

Goodwill Omaha is proud to participate in the first Washington County Gives! a 24-hour charitable challenge organized by the Blair Area Chamber of Commerce and Blair Area Community Foundation. The online giving event will take place on November 28 starting at midnight.

All funds raised by Goodwill support our Work Experience program in Blair. Goodwill’s Work Experience program provides students in special education services an opportunity to gain exposure to a work situation in a supportive environment. By participating in Work Experience, students can take the first step in making the transition from a school setting to the world of work.

The Work Experience program at Goodwill’s retail store in Blair allows students with disabilities the opportunity to experience aspects of employment. From following a supervisor’s instructions to staying on task, students are gaining valuable skills to assist in the transition from the classroom to employment.

Earlier this month, the Blair Work Experience staff hosted an Open House to invite student’s families, teachers and community members to see what the students have been learning this semester. Blair Work Experience Trainer, Jenny organized an engaging night for both students and guests that included student-led store tours, face painting and craft tables. Students demonstrated the skills they’ve learned through the Work Experience program and guests enjoyed seeing the students in action.

Your support will allow Goodwill to continue to provide these opportunities for students in Washington County. Help us continue to change lives and strengthen our community by giving to Goodwill’s Work Experience program in Blair during Washington County Gives!

  1. Visit WCNEGives.org on Tuesday November 28, 2017
  2. Click “DONATE NOW”
  3. Select “Goodwill Industries Inc.” to support Goodwill’s Work Experience program in Blair!
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