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.

 

 

 

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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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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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Omaha Teen “Picking” Toward Dream – KMTV – 1/19/18

OMAHA, Neb. (KMTV) – Any picker will tell you, it’s all about the thrill of the search. For Omaha teenager Noah Wegener, who suffers from cerebral palsy, it can be hard to navigate the old barns and crowded shops, but its not slowing him down.

Thanks to the Goodwill work experience program, Wegener has the opportunity to work independently to hone his craft.

He says the program is helping him get a head start to what he wants to do, open his own antique shop or business.

“It’s not like a normal day job, it’s different, it’s unique,” Wegener said. “It’s the research and the hunt, ‘like what am I going to find today in this barn,’ it’s never the same, it’s always like a treasure hunt you could say.”

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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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National Disability Employment Awareness Month in October

We were very fortunate to have our Work Experience Coordinator, Samuel Comfort, write this blog that outlines what National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM) is and the steps we, as a community, can take to be inclusive and aware of our words and actions year-round. 

RECAP OF EVENTS IN OCTOBER

October is recognized as National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM). NDEAM is a campaign that celebrates the contributions of workers with disabilities and provides education about the value of a diverse workforce inclusive of their skills and talents. Held annually, NDEAM is led by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Disability Employment Policy, but its true spirit lies in the many observances held at the grassroots level across the nation.

Goodwill Industries is proud to support NDEAM by educating our clients, employees and customers about disability employment issues and celebrating the many and varied contributions of America’s workers with disabilities. Throughout the month of October, Goodwill hosted events in support of NDEAM such as Mayoral Proclamations in Council Bluffs and Omaha, weekly sign language classes and social media campaigns to engage the community. Through the use of an interactive calendar, Goodwill provided the community opportunities to learn the importance of issues such as person-first-language, disability etiquette and how #InclusionDrivesInnovation.

On October 2, Council Bluffs Mayor Matt Walsh proclaimed support for NDEAM throughout the Council Bluffs community. Close to 100 people from community agencies and businesses, Goodwill’s Work Experience participants, and the Council Bluffs Chamber of Commerce gathered to celebrate the mayor’s proclamation with a ceremonial ribbon cutting.

On October 19, Goodwill hosted Franklin Thompson, Director of Human Rights and Relations for the City of Omaha, at Benson Park Plaza as he delivered a proclamation signed by Mayor Jean Stothert. Goodwill CEO and President Dr. Mike McGinnis welcomed all in attendance, including Omaha Public Schools, ENCOR, Madonna School, Embassy Suites, SourceAmerica as well as Goodwill staff, YouthBuild and Work Experience Program participants.

Basic sign language classes were offered during October at Benson Park Plaza. These weekly classes were open to the public. Classes provided over 40 Goodwill employees and individuals from the community an opportunity to learn the basics of American Sign Language. Attendees also learned about deaf culture in order to more confidently interact with deaf and hard of hearing individuals in their communities.

Goodwill programs distributed a survey to gauge local employers’ inclusive hiring and employment policies in October. The results of this survey will help shape the future of Goodwill’s efforts as we develop trainings aimed at eliminating unemployment among ALL who want to work, including individuals with disabilities.
National Disability Employment Awareness Month activities are not solely confined to October. Goodwill seeks to promote a disability-friendly work environment year-round. Here are some ways we can carry out the spirit of NDEAM.

 

USE PERSON FIRST LANGUAGE

Using person first language helps avoid perceived and subconscious devaluation when talking to or about a person with a disability. Simply put, person first language emphasizes the PERSON, rather than the disability. Person first language can be applied to any group that is defined by a condition rather than as a people: for example, “those that are homeless” rather than “the homeless.” By using this structure, the speaker articulates the idea of disability as a secondary attribute, not a characteristic of a person’s identity. Disability is only one piece of a whole person.

As our understanding has evolved, so has the use of certain terms. When writing and speaking about people with disabilities, choose words that carry positive, non-judgmental connotations. Avoid words which put the person with a disability into a “victim” category. Consider the use of the word “handicapped.” Like many terms that refer to minorities, there is negativity attached to it. At the least, it denotes a problem or a burden. At worst, it denotes incapability. Strive to highlight what people CAN do, rather than what they cannot.

Click for a list of person first language examples >>>

 

DISABILITY ETIQUETTE 

Striving to place the person first also incorporates disability etiquette. Disability etiquette is something which can teach us to remember the individual traits of a person, not a disability. It is important that we treat all participants, customers and employees in a manner befitting their age, regardless of disability.

Speak directly to a person with a disability, rather than through a companion, aide or sign language interpreter. Don’t be embarrassed if you happen to use accepted, common expressions such as “Good to see you” or “Got to be running along”, that seem to relate to the person’s disability. Making small talk with a person who has a disability is great. Talk to him or her as you would with anyone else.

Respect his or her privacy. If you ask about their disability, he or she may feel like you are treating them as a disability, not as a human being. However, many people with disabilities are comfortable with questions about their disability after getting to know someone. A simple “I don’t feel comfortable sharing that” from the person with a disability can set the tone if it is not something that they are willing to share.

Just because someone has a disability, don’t assume that he or she needs help. Always ask before assisting a person with a disability, “May I help you?” If they need help, they may accept it. If they do not, do not take offense. Never help without asking and if the individual does want help, ask how before you act.

To get the attention of a person who is deaf or hard of hearing, tap the person on the shoulder or wave your hand. Look directly at the person and speak clearly, slowly, and in a normal volume to establish if the person can read your lips. Not all deaf/hard of hearing people can read lips. Those who do will rely on your facial expressions and other body language to help in understanding. Show consideration by keeping your hands away from your mouth when speaking. Shouting will not help the person understand you, but you might ask if pen and paper would help.

When talking to a person in a wheelchair for more than a few minutes, place yourself at the wheelchair user’s eye level to spare both of you a stiff neck. Grab a chair and sit with that person while you talk. Standing over someone in a wheelchair or of short stature causes you both to feel uncomfortable, as well as unnecessary back and neck pain. Avoid touching a person’s wheelchair, scooter or cane. People with disabilities consider their equipment part of their personal space.

When greeting someone with significant loss of vision, always identify yourself and others who may be with you. Say, for example, “On my right is John Miller.” When conversing in a group, remember to say the name of the person to whom you are speaking to give a vocal cue. Speak in a normal tone of voice, indicate when you move from one place to another, and let it be known when the conservation is at an end.

Give whole, unhurried attention when you are talking to a person who has difficulty speaking. Keep your manner encouraging rather than correcting.
Be patient rather than try to speak for the person or fill in the gaps. When necessary, ask short questions that require short answers, or a nod or shake of the head. Never pretend to understand if you are having trouble doing so. Repeat what you understood. The person’s reaction will clue you in on whether you understood correctly. Don’t be afraid to ask them to repeat the parts you did not understand.

Remember, people with disabilities are people first, who just happen to have a disability. Equal treatment is essential to the integration of people with disabilities into the workplace. Thank you to all who contributed to making our October events a success. More importantly, thank you for working to make Goodwill a workplace that ensures all people regardless of ability have access to resources to learn and grow.

Click to learn more about disability etiquette >>>

 

“The best way to help everyone, is for people to learn, understand and respect all people, whether they are the same or different.”
—Steven James Tingus, MS, C.Phil
U.S. Department of Education

“There is no greater disability in society than the inability to see a person as more.”
—Robert Hensel, Poet, Writer, World Record Holder for longest non-stop wheelie in a wheelchair, 6.178 miles.

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Work Experience Students Support Goodwill’s Retail Stores

Goodwill’s Work Experience program provides young adults with disabilities the opportunity to gain exposure to a work situation in a supportive environment. Eight Goodwill locations host students for a few hours a day during the school year. Most students work in one of Goodwill’s retail stores, but some students are able to get a behind-the-scenes look at Goodwill’s Retail Operations Center.

The Retail Operations Center at 72nd and F Street houses Goodwill’s logistics operations to help the retail stores operate smoothly. The Retail Operations Center services all of Goodwill’s 15 retail stores, donation pods, Attended Donation Centers and community donation drives.

My'Kel tagging donated clothesNew this year, Work Experience students utilize five new hanging and sorting stations. When Goodwill receives donated goods through community donation drives, donation pods, and Attended Donation Centers, those goods need to be sorted, tagged and hung up. However, the Retail Operations Center is not a retail store and therefore does not always have staff to complete these tasks. That’s where Work Experience students are able to step in and help out.

 

Work Experience students are trained to follow the same procedures for hanging and sorting as employees in Goodwill’s retail stores. Clothes arrive in gaylords (large cardboard boxes). Then the students sort the clothes, hang them on the rack and follow guidelines to determine the appropriate tag to attach.

Zach selecting price tags

Once the clothes are tagged and hung, they are either sent out to a Goodwill retail store or stored for later use. The extra help of Work Experience students at the Retail Operations Center allows Goodwill’s retail stores to remain fully stocked even if donations slow at that location. Their support allows Goodwill’s retail operations to keep running smoothly.

Work Experience students Zach, Mikeala and My’Kel enjoy working in the hanging and sorting stations because it keeps them busy and helps the day move fast. Work Experience trainer Patty explains, “This is a terrific job for our students. They are learning skills that are directly applicable to any retail job as well as basic employment skills like following guidelines and procedures.”

Goodwill’s Work Experience program is proud to support the work of Goodwill’s retail stores while providing students exposure to a work environment. Next time you shop at Goodwill, remember that the clothing you purchase may have been sorted and tagged by a Work Experience student.

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