Stephen’s Story

Blog_Post_Steven-215x215When 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:

Last Minute Ideas for Dad

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.

Dad_FrameAre 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¢.

 

TiesWhy 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.

 

 

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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.

Cindy’s Story

Blog_Post_Cindy-215x215In 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:

A Successful Goodwill Week

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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!

Teaming Up to Help in Times of Disaster

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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.”

Kenneth’s Story

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’s Story

Blog_Post_Joel-215x215Joel 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:

Brides Camp Out Overnight to Save on Their Dream Dress

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The Wedding Gala is Goodwill’s largest event of the year. It’s also one of the most exciting. This year was no different. The first bride showed up nearly 13 hours before the sale even began.

Not only had brides come early, but some had traveled hundreds of miles to attend Goodwill’s 5th Annual Wedding Gala. Brides on a budget came from Florida, Illinois, Alabama, Georgia, Kentucky and all across Tennessee for a chance to find their dream dress at a deeply discounted price.

This year’s sale featured more than 1,500 brand new designer dresses that were donated by area bridal boutiques. More than 700 of those were wedding gowns worth as much as $6,000, all priced under $400. All other dresses including prom, bridesmaid, flower girl and mother’s dresses were priced under $30.

When the doors opened at 6 a.m. on March 15, more than 500 people were lined up outside the store. The wait definitely paid off. The first four brides in line all found their dream wedding gown.

When the four-hour sale ended, more than 500 dresses had been purchased. By close of business Sunday, 699 dresses had been sold. A large assortment of jewelry, veils, belts, shoes and other accessories were also purchased.

It is a special moment when a bride finds that perfect dress. It’s even more special when you think about how those purchases benefit Goodwill’s mission. What a huge day for all of those brides on a budget, and for Goodwill.

Youth Building Goodwill

BOA_Image_Online_215x215Goodwill Industries of Middle Tennessee just kicked off an exciting new program aimed at helping youth and young adults receive the tools they need to succeed. “Youth Building Goodwill” will provide educational, vocational and financial training to 17 to 25-year-olds who are out of school and unemployed.

This new venture began late last year when Goodwill Industries of Middle Tennessee submitted a proposal to the Bank of America Charitable Foundation for its Neighborhood Builders Award. Goodwill found out in late November it had won the regional award, which included a grant to be used to create the “Youth Building Goodwill” program.

A celebration of this award, held on February 13, 2014 on Goodwill’s corporate campus, included local business leaders, members of Goodwill’s board of directors and several Goodwill employees. John Stein, Tennessee president of Bank of America, presented a $200,000 check to Goodwill in honor of receiving the award. “We are pleased and thrilled for the Bank of America Charitable Foundation’s confidence in and support of us and this program,” said Betty Johnson, vice president and chief people officer for Goodwill. “We look forward to educating and empowering this under-served population.”

Goodwill has already started working with other agencies to make sure this program is a success. A pilot project with the YMCA Youth-Build Program has resulted in several young men obtaining employment, and they will continue to receive guidance from Goodwill staff. Johnson said, “We will assist these young adults in mapping out a life plan that allows them to accomplish their goals, earn an income and become contributing members of the community.”

“Youth Building Goodwill” is currently being offered in Davidson County. However, there are plans to extend the program to other areas including Rutherford, Wilson and Williamson Counties. For more information about the program, call Brenda Hines at (615) 346-1634.

Dorothy’s Story

Blog_Post_Dorothy-215x215A stay-at-home mom, Dorothy had been out of the workforce for over 30 years. “I wanted to stay home and take care of my two children,” she said. “Then, when my children were teenagers, my sister passed away, and her three year old son came to live with me.”

Dorothy chose to stay at home and raise her nephew, just as she had her own children. When her nephew turned 16, she decided it was time to return to the workforce. Despite a lack of work experience, the 55-year-old had no problem finding employment. Goodwill was the first place she applied and, just days later, she was offered a job.

That was eight years ago. Today, Dorothy spends her days processing hard goods at the Goodwill store in Shelbyville. “I’m responsible for keeping the store shelves in the hard goods section stocked and organized,” she said. “I really enjoy my job.”

For some, the transition back into the workforce can be difficult, but that wasn’t the case for Dorothy. “It was actually pretty smooth,” she said. “My managers and co-workers made it easy for me.”

Now, eight years later, Dorothy is still happy to be a part of the Goodwill family. “Working for Goodwill has changed my life,” she said. “I am independent now, and that makes me feel real good.”

Watch Dorothy’s story: