Richard had spent most of his life changing tires on tractor trailers. After a while all that heavy lifting took a toll on his body. “I have a bad disk in my back, and I just couldn’t do the job anymore,” he said.
Over the next several months, Richard applied for dozens of jobs, and he even landed a few interviews, but nothing ever panned out. “I was unemployed for almost a year,” he said. “We got behind on our bills and were just days from losing our home.”
Richard was about to give up when he received a job offer from Goodwill. Today, he spends his days greeting our donors at the Smyrna drive-thru location on Presidents Place. “I’ve been with Goodwill for five years now, and I love it,” he says. “I have regular donors that stop by just to see me.”
Richard said he is grateful to Goodwill for giving him an opportunity to work again. “If it weren’t for Goodwill, I would probably be out on the street,” he said. “Goodwill has added stability to my life. I can now pay my bills and take care of my wife.”
During his year of unemployment, Richard was looking for a job that would pay the bills. Today he’s happy he found something much more than that. “It makes me feel good to work for an organization like Goodwill,” he says. “I love my job, and I love Goodwill.”
Watch Richard’s Story:
One of the best resources for job hunters today is the job fair. At a job fair, potential employers come together to represent their companies and industries, and meet with those who are seeking employment. If you can impress a representative at a job fair, it can go a long way toward finding that coveted position. Here are four ways you can put your best foot forward.
- Prepare Your Elevator Pitch
An elevator pitch is a brief pitch about a product or idea you are trying to sell. The name reflects the idea that you should be able to explain the product during the time of a typical elevator ride. In this case, the product is you. Your pitch should include a quick summary of your professional/educational background, skills, and strengths that can benefit the recruiter.
- Dress for Success
Wear your most professional clothes, regardless of your industry. Make sure that they are pressed and neat, and wear shoes that are going to hold up and not hurt as you’re on your feet all day long. This doesn’t mean sneakers, though: You want your shoes to be conservative and businesslike, but still comfortable for a long day of wear. Just like any meeting, be professional and polite in your look and demeanor.
- Bring Your Resume
This may seem like a no-brainer, but make sure your resume is up to date, without errors, and bring enough copies for each recruiter. Keep your resumes in a briefcase or another professional-looking carrier; this will also allow you to store business cards that you collect as you travel through the fair.
- Network, Network, Network
Come away from the job fair with as many contacts as you can. The Carrington College Career Services Team suggests that you keep in mind that this doesn’t just mean the representatives and recruiters, either; anyone in line with you while you wait can become a valuable contact in the future. Exchange information and add contacts on LinkedIn to keep in touch
Following these four tips will give you a good head start on making a strong impression with company representatives as you visit a job fair. With tact, confidence, and presentation, you’ll find there are a lot of opportunities out there. Goodwill’s 27 Career Solutions Centers located throughout Middle and West Tennessee host a variety of job fairs each week. Take a look at the job fair calendar to find an opportunity near you.
When Cindy came to Cookeville in 2003, she had reached an all-time low in her life. “I had lost my home, my family and my life as I had known it,” she said. “It was all because of my drug addiction.”
Cindy had spent the last 11 months in prison. As a condition of her early release, she was required to attend recovery meetings and live in a halfway house. “I called dozens, but a halfway house in Cookeville was the only one that would accept me,” she said. “So I hopped on a bus with a few possessions and $10 in my pocket.”
On the way to a meeting, Cindy stopped at the local Goodwill store. She didn’t buy anything, but she left with something of value: a brochure for Goodwill Career Solutions.
Cindy went to the Career Solutions center in Cookeville the very next day. “The career counselor went above and beyond to help me,” she said. “She knew I needed money immediately, so she found me a job where I could make tips.”
Weeks later, Cindy started a job as a processor at Goodwill. “Within a year, I had purchased a car, rented a home and moved my family here,” she said. “Shortly after that, I received a promotion.”
What started with a brochure 11 years ago has transpired into so much more. “Coming to Goodwill was one of the most important decisions I’ve made,” she said. “I love the people, and I enjoy my job.”
Cindy said Goodwill has provided her with more than a job. “Two years ago, we bought a house and made Cookeville our home,” she said. “Goodwill gave me the opportunity to do that.”
Watch Cindy’s Story:
When Stephen started working at the Columbia Goodwill store in 2005, he was quiet and shy, but you’d never know it if you met him today. “Stephen never meets a stranger, and he never forgets a name,” said Becky Kelly, the manager at Goodwill’s Columbia store. “He goes out of his way to greet every shopper with a smile and a hello.”
Although Stephen works vigorously at his janitorial job by mopping the floors and cleaning the windows, it’s his contagious smile and positive attitude that really makes the store shine. “Stephen never has a bad day,” she said. “He is just a joy to be around. When he comes in to work with that smile on his face, it makes everyone around him happy.”
Making others happy is what Stephen does best, but it’s not the only quality that makes him stand out. “We can always count on Stephen,” said Kelly. “In nine years, he’s never missed a day of work.”
While Stephen enjoys what he does, he said the people are the best part about Goodwill. “Just because I’m different doesn’t mean you should treat me different,” he said. “I love the customers and they love me. My co-workers are like family.”
After nine years at Goodwill, Stephen can’t imagine working anywhere else. “Working for Goodwill is pretty awesome,” he said with a big smile on his face. “I love it here. It’s like heaven on earth.”
Watch Stephen’s Story:
Father’s Day, June 15
Father’s day is less than a week away. If you’re still searching for the perfect gift, here are some ideas that won’t break the bank.
Are you looking for a cute and creative idea for dad? How about a custom Father’s Day photo print! How great would it be to recreate this idea each year to show how much the kids have grown and changed. Frames at Goodwill start at 99¢.
Why pay department store prices when you can purchase dad a designer tie at Goodwill for $1.99. You can find a wide variety of ties at the Goodwill store nearest you.
Does dad like to tee it up? You can score some great clubs at Goodwill. You can get a great driver, putter or sand wedge for as little as .99¢. A whole set of clubs starts at $12.99.
Not sure what to get? You can always purchase a Goodwill gift card from any of our 34 retail locations and let your dad pick out his own gift. Find your nearest Goodwill store.
In 2007, Cindy lost her husband. A year later, she lost her job. “It was a very difficult time,” she said.
Cindy had been out of work for a year and a half when she stopped by the Goodwill Career Solutions center in Jackson for help. Just a few months after enrolling in the program, Goodwill offered Cindy a job as a donation attendant at the Goodwill store in Humboldt where she worked for about a year until the store closed.
Before the store closed, Cindy’s district manager lined up an interview for her with Goodwill’s donations supervisor in West Tennessee. At the time, Brian Martin needed to fill a donation attendant position in Jackson.
On the day of the interview, Cindy’s car broke down, but she was determined to get there on time. “When the Medina police chief stopped to help Cindy, she talked him into driving her 15 miles to her interview in Jackson,” said Brian. “This is what sold me on her ability to get things done and overcome obstacles.”
Cindy said having a steady job at Goodwill for the last five years has allowed her to become independent. “I don’t have to depend on others to take care of me,” she said. “I can actually make a living for myself, which I couldn’t do before.”
The job has provided Cindy with more than a paycheck. “Working for Goodwill has raised my self-esteem,” she said. “I am now a confident person. I can walk around with my head held high.”
Watch Cindy’s Story:
Goodwill Week is an opportunity each year to focus on matching our clients and other individuals with jobs throughout Middle and West Tennessee. Whereas we hold 50+ job fairs each month, Goodwill Week is an intensified opportunity to connect individuals with new businesses and more jobs.
This year, our 26 Career Solutions centers hosted 78 events designed to engage people in their communities. There were a variety of events including job fairs that featured more than 200 employers, job readiness workshops and community resource fairs.
Nearly 1,900 people attended those events. Fifty-nine job seekers were hired on the spot, highlighting our mission of providing employment and training to people who have disabilities and others who have trouble finding and keeping jobs.
By selling the gently-used items that you donate, Goodwill funds job training, placement programs and special events such as Goodwill Week.
Thank you for your continued support!
On May 1, Goodwill Industries of Middle Tennessee’s Goodwill Cares program once again activated its disaster partnership with the Nashville Area Chapter of the American Red Cross. A tornado swept through the area on April 28, destroying dozens of homes in Lincoln County.
Goodwill set up a donation trailer in the parking lot of the Piggly Wiggly on Huntsville Highway in Fayetteville, and the community responded. In just four days, more than 260 people dropped off donations at the site. In exchange for the donations, Goodwill provided the Red Cross with more than 80 Goodwill Cares gift cards which were given to their clients. “So many Lincoln County families lost everything that day,” said Natisha Moultry, community relations manager for Goodwill. “These Goodwill Cares gift cards will allow them to purchase the items they really need right now.”
Disasters create a wide range of emergency needs, more than any one organization can meet. The partnership, which was formed in April 2013, allows both organizations to better serve the community during a crisis. Moultry said, “When we work together, we can truly make a difference in the communities we serve.”
After serving three years in prison, Kenneth went to work for a local company. Thirteen months later, his past came back to haunt him. “The company knew I had a felony, but when new management came in, they ran a background check and let me go,” he said. “Actually, I got promoted to a dispatcher on Thursday, and they dismissed me on Saturday.”
For the next two years Kenneth applied for dozens of jobs, but he couldn’t find work. That’s when Kenneth turned to Career Solutions for help. Three months later, Goodwill offered him a job.
Kenneth worked as a material handler in one of Goodwill’s downtown Nashville warehouses for two years. Then in 2013, he was promoted to assistant supervisor. “Someone saw my potential,” he said with a grin.
Kenneth’s supervisor, Dollie Lillard, said she saw his potential right away. “He is honest and dependable, and he goes above and beyond to get the job done,” she said. “One Saturday, several co-workers were having difficulty getting to work because of bus issues. He piled as many people as he could in his car and drove them to work.”
Kenneth says it’s nice to be able to help others the way Goodwill has helped him. “When I lost that job five years ago, it dampened my spirits, but Goodwill has uplifted me and given me another chance at life,” he said. “I can now provide for my family.”
Five years ago, Kenneth was unsure of his future. Today, he is excited about what lies ahead. “Because of Goodwill I have a better life.”
Watch Kenneth’s Story:
Joel spent 52 years in the household moving and storage business, relocating people worldwide. He was in his seventies when he finally retired, but he soon realized retirement life wasn’t for him. “It lasted about two years, and then I just decided I wanted to go back to work,” he said. “I kind of had a plan on what I wanted to do, and I thought Goodwill would just be perfect.”
So Joel’s job search started with a visit to Goodwill Career Solutions in Franklin. “I had written out my resumé, and the administrative assistant at Career Solutions graciously typed it up for me.”
During his visit, Joel expressed his interest in working for Goodwill. “They called a manager over from the store, and the manager interviewed me that day. I was really thrilled to get the job.”
That was three years ago. Today, Joel is still working as a sales associate at the Franklin store on Murfreesboro Road. He spends his days running a register and interacting with others. “Goodwill has given me a purpose for getting up every morning,” he said. “I love my co-workers and my customers.”
Joel will celebrate his 83rd birthday on April 4, and he says he will continue to work as long as he is able. “Goodwill has changed my life considerably, and I think working here has actually extended my life,” he said. “I now feel like I have a few good years left in me, and I’m happy that someone can utilize them.”
Watch Joel’s Story: