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Posts from 2016

Delivering Your First Impression in an Interview
Goodwill Industries of Tulsa
 

By Sherry Gipson, MS, CSP
Goodwill TulsaWORKS Career Academy

Do you remember when your parents told you first impressions are so important? In an interview, this is absolutely true and is only part of what makes interviewing a challenge in today’s marketplace. After training adults to prepare for an interview, the most overlooked question - and frankly badly answered - is still used by most recruiters and hiring managers. This question is, of course, “tell me a little about yourself." Job seekers have interpreted this question as small talk, a personal question, or a “let’s get warmed up before the real discussion begins …." and this has led to a pointless first impression. It can also determine the remainder of the discussion, and the eventual outcome.

So, how can we fix it? First of all, job seekers need to know that this question is designed to inquire about your professional self and is not the time to talk about your efforts in gardening, your grandkids, or your racecar driving hobby. It is the best time to discuss the skills you have that the job position requires. One tool to help you prepare an answer is to think about three things (1) what you are doing now that adds value toward the workforce, (2) what you have experienced in the past that contributes to the position, and (3) how both of these things will make you successful within the organization.

Make a list of the skills and abilities that you have learned through education, training, and experience on previous jobs. Are you a good team player? provide meaningful customer service? leadership? strategic thinking? Spend time reviewing the job description and the organization and determine what you can contribute and then develop some phrases from this list. For example, if the job description requires “excellent verbal and written communication skills” you might describe an experience where you participated on a team and collaborated with fellow team members through effective face-to-face personal interactions and followed up with detailed written communication.

Having a pre-thought-out, individual plan to positively answer this first interview question will enable the job seeker to show a level of professionalism and move forward with the interview in a confident and effectual manner.

Sherry Gipson is a training instructor in Tulsa, Oklahoma. She has a Master's degree in Training and Development and a Bachelor's degee in Human Resources Management. She trains adults to prepare for the workforce through personal branding, resume development, and improving interview skills.

This article was first published October 27, 2016 on LinkedIn.



Five Easy Holiday Hostess Gift Ideas
Goodwill Industries of Tulsa

“Don’t forget to bring a hostess gift!” – Mom

As much as I hate to admit it, my mother was right. It is always polite to never show up to a party empty-handed, whether it be food for the guests or, more important, a gift for the hostess. With the holiday party season around the corner, it’s time to start thinking about the perfect gift. The task itself can seem daunting to some, but here are five easy ideas to help; ALL are items I found at Goodwill!

  1. Decorative glasses/cups: For the “it’s 5 o’clock somewhere” friend in the group, two etched or decorated wine glasses are an easy gift. If the hostess does not drink alcohol, coffee cups are also a good choice!
 2. Coffee table books: For the hostess you don’t know well, a couple of garden books, stargazing books, or even cookbooks are classic gifts that can be excellent conversation starters!  
   3. Hanging signs/canvases: For the Okie or Okie at heart, Oklahoma-themed signs, such as Route 66, or family-themed signs are sure to please!
 4. Decorative Pillows: For the fashionista or creative hostess, decorative pillows are a must. The cuter or fluffier, the better!  
   5. Vases: For the gardener or all-around hostess, a vase is a classic gift that is always appreciated and loved around the house. It doesn’t have to be fancy, either! Something as simple as a colorful watering jug can do the trick.

All of these ideas can also be combined to impress the hostess. You’d be surprised at the quality of products you are able to find at Goodwill, such as these items from the 3110 Southwest Boulevard Store. Not only are these things you’d find in Pier 1 Imports or a local boutique, but they were within my holiday budget!

Don’t be the guest that shows up to the party empty-handed. Make an impression with the perfect gift for the hostess!

Kelly Olivieri is Goodwill Tulsa’s digital communications intern, who always follows her mom's advice.



Goodwill finds are Tulsa State Fair winners
Goodwill Industries of Tulsa

 

 
 Photo by Kelly Olivieri

By Karla Davis,
Director of Finance and Information Technology for Goodwill Industries of Tulsa

More than 10 years ago, I was at the Tulsa State Fair with a friend. We were looking at the entries in the Competitive Exhibits Antiques division and found that there were ribbons on several things very similar to what each of us had among our treasures at home. We resolved to figure out how to enter our own “old junk.” Items must be at least 50 years old for entry in the Antiques division at the Tulsa State Fair. 

It’s a little complicated to figure out just where some of the pieces fit among the 70+ classes, but we did our best and both of us won a ribbon or two that first year! We were hooked. For several years we entered up to a half dozen things each year and then, well, life happened and we didn’t enter for a while. But we still made time to look at the winners.

This year, I had four entries. The painting is one my mom did as a girl and for the family connection, it is my favorite even if it didn’t win a ribbon.

The other items, a piece of sheet music (“Sweethearts on Parade,” 1928), a schoolbook (American Accountant’s Training Association from Draughon School of Business in Oklahoma City, 1947), and a children’s book (“Famous American Ships,” 1958), were all Goodwill finds and were all winners; two firsts and a second. The accounting book even has notes jotted in the margins and the student’s work still tucked in the pages.

It’s probably important to say that I buy items at Goodwill that I enjoy, not only with an eye toward a fair entry. And it’s not a money-making venture. Goodwill finds are a bargain and support a great cause, of course, but the entry fee is $4 per item (this year, anyway) and a first place ribbon is worth $8. Most years, I have won enough to cover the entry fees. But I do really enjoy collecting special items and testing my judgment of really great finds against other collectors.

I invite you to join me! You’ll find the information on antiques in the Competitive Exhibits > Adults Entries section of the Tulsa State Fair website. The website is updated in the late spring or early summer with information for the fall fair.



Why We Do What We Do: Goodwill Contract Services
Goodwill Industries of Tulsa
 
 

By Kelly Olivieri
Digital Communications/IT intern

Updated: 10/17/16

Pulling a floral shoe box from the shelf, Gail Ball beamed with pride as she showed me the dozens of photos inside.

She told a story with each photo, which she has accumulated through the almost 25 years she has worked at Goodwill Contract Services (GCS).

She is the Leanne Tuohy of the division.

You won’t find any footballs or Ole Miss banners in her office, but I sensed Gail has the same dedication to family. Gail’s coworkers call her a tough-yet-fair boss.

Goodwill Contract Services at Goodwill Industries of Tulsa helps employ people with severe disabilities for subcontract jobs for civic-minded local companies, such as Whirlpool, AAA and others.

Many of the supported workers come from harsh backgrounds, especially those who are older and experienced a society that was not a welcome environment for individuals with disabilities. Providing opportunities for individuals with disabilities to learn the Power of Work is the inspiration that has kept her going through the years.

GCS provides a pathway for the employees to not only earn wages, but also to grow their self-esteem and social skills.

“The pride on their faces when they earn their first pay raise or attendance certificate is worth it,” said Gail, who is the director of GCS. “I could never work anywhere else — no one could measure up to what Goodwill Contract Services does.”

GCS has undergone a change this year. Previously located in East Tulsa, it is now in a new facility next to Goodwill Tulsa’s main building on Southwest Boulevard.

However, change is nothing new to Gail. A child of the 1960s, she grew up in the countryside of New York as a farmer’s daughter and traveled across the states. Gail most famously attended Woodstock; a framed poster from the festival is on her office wall.

Gail has taken all of her life experiences as a single mother to heart and she emphasizes those things she has had to learn the hard way to her supported workers.

As of now, there are hundreds of success stories and around 30 supported workers at GCS.

“I will never let this be just a job,” Gail said. “I am passionate about what I do and how it impacts others.”



Enter the 2016 Costume Contest
Goodwill Industries of Tulsa
 

If you celebrate Halloween by creating a custom homemade costume, then this contest is for you!

Make your costume using at least two items purchased at one of Goodwill Industries of Tulsa's stores.
Our panel of judges will select three prize winners from the entries.

1st Place

  • $50 Goodwill Gift Card, $25 Quick Trip Gift Card, Ghostbusters® (2016) Blu-Ray/DVD

2nd Place

  • $25 Goodwill Gift Card, Ghostbusters DVD

3rd Place

  • $35 Goodwill Gift Card

We're taking entries until November 4 so even you last-minute costume designers have a chance to win.

Enter here.

MORE

For ideas, visit our Pinterest board or check out Goodwill.org/Halloween for a cool costume generator and great makeup tutorials.



5 Easy Ways to Dress In-Between Summer and Fall
Goodwill Industries of Tulsa

 

Fall is here! Time to order those PSL's and break out the sweaters! I can already smell the cinnamon and pumpkin pie (yum!). Unfortunately, Mother Nature does not always agree with the seasons and it is still hot outside. This in-between season of transitioning from summer to fall can be a bit tricky to navigate, but here are a few tips for us ladies to get you on track for fall fashion!

  1. Double layer your shirts. Wear your usual summer shirt, just add a long-sleeve blouse either draped over your shoulders or as a jacket — this keeps it light and simple!
 2. Put a jacket/shirt over your summer dress. That way you are still able to go out in the day, and still be warm after dark.   
   3. Change up the color. If you can't give up the summer shirts just yet, switch up the colors! (For example, a deep gold, orange, brown, black, navy, etc.) Color change is a quick, easy fix to easily feel like its fall.
 4. Pull out the peep-toed shoes. Not only are they adorable and fall-colored, the "peep" also brings cooler air to the rest of your toes when it's hot outside!  
   5. Color your nails a neutral color. Grey, black, white, and even tan are nail colors that can go with any color clothing and still be ready for when it gets cooler outside.

The best part is that you don’t have to spend a fortune to create these looks. Every single clothing item suggested is in our Goodwill Tulsa stores! 

Kelly Olivieri is Goodwill Tulsa’s Digital Communications intern who loves to watch the latest trends, whether it be fashion or latte-related.



Direct Support Professionals Week Goodwill TulsaWORKS Career Academy
Goodwill Industries of Tulsa

 

From its beginnings, the Goodwill TulsaWORKS Career Academy has existed to make a difference in the lives of those we have the privilege to serve.

Since 1996, the program has grown to include two Goodwill Job Connection locations and our Tulsa Reentry program — and the dedication to serve remains. When we speak of service, it needs to be understood that service cannot be accomplished without the persons whom we call our Instructors; our Career Navigators; our Job Connection Branch Managers and Job Specialists; our Tulsa Reentry Employment Specialists and Job Developer; our Coordinator; our Administrative Assistant and our Security Officer. Each of these individuals chose to enter this field of service to somehow change the trajectory of life for those who desire to obtain employment. They do so by strengthening, educating, training and empowering those job seekers.

We are so proud of the hearts and minds of the people that make up this fantastic team who work tirelessly for the mission of Goodwill. We have been accused of being unique, loud, working crazy hours and even different at times, but these mighty workers are here to “be the change you want to see in the world” (Mahatma Gandhi) one person at a time.

We are grateful to take time out to honor you all during this Direct Support Professionals week. And we are thankful to all you for being great ambassadors for Goodwill Industries of Tulsa, Inc.

Proudly Submitted,

Sabrina Ware, Director
TulsaWORKS Career Academy & Goodwill Job Connection



Direct Support Professionals Week -- Hospital Enclaves & Job Share
Goodwill Industries of Tulsa

Job coaches at Goodwill’s hospital enclaves assist workers who need support to lead self-directed lives and to participate fully in our community. Our job coaches are strong advocates, ensuring the needs of the supported workers are met daily. They have developed excellent relationships with parents, guardians, residential support staff, supervisors and managers at the worksites.

Each of you is a valued employee and we want to celebrate and recognize you for the direct support service that you give on a daily basis. We are thinking of you, especially this week, focusing on your excellent work. It’s an important time for our company and for you. Congratulations!

Loretta Block and Debbie Williams

 

 

Goodwill’s employment specialists for job share teach and model essential job skills to supported workers. They track progress towards outcomes and help set goals for improved performance. Our employment specialists exhibit a consummate dedication to our supported workers. They educate and empower the workers to be the best they can be.

Each of you is a valued employee and we want to celebrate and recognize you for the direct support service that you give on a daily basis. Thank you for such dedication and loyalty. We will be depending on you as we move into the next era. We are thinking of you, especially this week, focusing on your excellent work. It’s an important time for our company and for you. Congratulations!

Loretta Block and Debbie Williams



Direct Support Professionals Week Supported Employment
Goodwill Industries of Tulsa

 

The Supported Employment team at Goodwill Industries of Tulsa consists of Kim, Elizabeth, Archie and Scott. And Becky supports the team.

Together they are responsible for helping 38 individuals with severe disabilities find and keep jobs in the community and to become independent on their jobs. The team members possess a very unique skill set and a compassion to help others. They work tirelessly to help Goodwill to achieve the mission of the organization and to help people improve the quality of their lives. We would like to thank them, during not only Direct Support Professionals Week, but also each and every day that they dedicate themselves to helping others. 



Direct Support Professionals Week Goodwill Contract Services
Goodwill Industries of Tulsa

 

 

At Goodwill Contract Services, eight staff members and the director have a combined 102.5 years of service. This is an amazing number considering each staff person has worked with the same director for all of their years at Goodwill.  They love what they do and they want to make a difference in the lives of the people they serve.

These dedicated staff members provide more than a paid job skills training opportunity for supported workers.  One of the reasons supported workers are in the center-based training program is their level of disabilities and the extended barriers to community employment that presents.  Over the years, unforeseen needs can pop up at any time and our team has to meet those needs.

The director, who is also a hands-on direct support professional, is responsible for directly and indirectly supervising GCS staff, job coaches and supported workers. The director prepares and executes objectives and action plans in support of the organization’s strategic plan and Goodwill’s mission. Along with constantly pursuing additional contracts and work opportunities; hiring and training; and providing case management services, the director participates in the daily support and encouragement of GCS workers.

The assistant to the director wears several hats.  The assistant controls the “front of the facility” with tasks ranging from receptionist and phone operator to input of daily attendance and production count. The assistant is records keeper, party and events planner — and very often the first person to give a smile and a “listening ear.” Keeping open communication with the families and residential providers for the GCS supported workers is important, and our assistant definitely meets this need.

The contract manager supervises and coordinates the processes required to perform various contracts. The contract manager also determines work sequences and equipment needs; handles shipping and receiving; and performs U.S. Department of Labor required tasks. Another essential duty is working with job coaches on meeting our goal of providing quantity and quality of service to the GCS workers and the companies who contract with us.

Without job coaches, there is no working program. Their basic duties are to train, support and encourage the supported workers in building their work skills. They do so much more. As material handlers, trainers, friends and cheerleaders, the job coaches supply the supported workers with all of the tools they need to be successful. They go above and beyond in assisting with everyday needs that we sometimes take for granted: preparing lunches, assisting with hygiene, consoling the sad, monitoring and assisting those that are limited. Most of all, our job coaches encourage everyone to be the best they can be.

We do all of this because we all believe in Goodwill’s mission, vision and values.





TulsaWORKS participants pitch in
Goodwill TulsaWORKS Career Academy
This year's group of Goodwill TulsaWORKS Career Academy volunteers who helped out with the 2016 United Way campaign for Tulsa Area United Way.
 

Goodwill TulsaWORKS Career Academy students put on their volunteer hats last week.

The group made the annual 2-mile trip to Tulsa Area United Way headquarters to help package campaign materials for the 2016 United Way campaign.

It is a big project to prepare the more than 1,000 personalized packets for the campaign. Tulsa Area United Way gets a much-needed hand with the work. And TulsaWORKS participants gain good volunteer experience that they can include on their resumes during the week.

 
 Goodwill TulsaWORKS Career Academy sorted and bundled brochures at Tulsa Area United Way the week of July 18.
 

 



Free credit report event
Goodwill Industries of Tulsa
 Credit Report Event at Goodwill Tulsa
 

The Alliance for Economic Inclusion and Goodwill Industries of Tulsa is hosting this free opportunity to improve your credit.

You can have a free credit report pulled onsite and then reviewed one-on-one with a credit professional.

The sessions will take place at Goodwill Industries of Tulsa’s headquarters, 2800 Southwest Boulevard on:

  • Tuesday, July 26, 4-7 p.m.
  • Thursday, July 28, 2-5 p.m.

*IMPORTANT! To get a credit report, you must:

  • Know your Social Security Number
  • Have a photo ID (driver's icense, Matricula or State ID card)
  • Also, consumers can pull one free credit report each year from TransUnion, Equifax & Experian. There is a charge for additional reports.

This is a community event open to everyone.

Download Flier



Goodwill, VOA help veteran regain footing
Goodwill TulsaWORKS Career Academy
 Good Thinkin' Blog: Goodwill, VOA help veteran regain footing
 
By ANGELA HANDSHUMAKER, TulsaWORKS Career Academy, Goodwill Industries of Tulsa

Meet William Stockham, a husband, family man, Army Sergeant and veteran who is currently enlisted in the Army Reserves. He recently went without employment for a significant amount of time. It wasn’t for a lack of trying, he applied for multiple jobs. Employers told him time and again, he was “over qualified.” This frustrating period of unemployment plunged him and his family further into debt, and brought them to the brink of potential homelessness. He began to feel depressed, lost his confidence, and felt his dignity slipping away. He realized something had to change.

William decided that the security industry would be a great fit for him because of his security experience in the Army. He knew he needed to obtain his Council on Law Enforcement Education and Training (C.L.E.E.T.) license to enter this career field, and the process began with required training. He found that Goodwill Industries of Tulsa’s TulsaWORKS Private Security Training Program was the most cost effective option in the area. Upon arrival at Goodwill, he met with Angela, the private security Case Manager, and started the enrollment process. Through conversation, Angela discovered that he would be a great candidate for the program at Volunteers of America of Oklahoma (VOA) program, Helping Veterans Receive Paychecks (HVRP). They assisted him with veteran to veteran mentorship and guidance, and helped cover the expenses of training, uniforms and licensing needed for the security industry. Together Goodwill and VOA were able to assist this veteran in regaining employment, empowering him to regain his dignity and pride. William completed the C.L.E.E.T. Phase 1 & 2 training through Goodwill Industries of Tulsa’s TulsaWORKS program.

He is, once again, a confident husband, family man, veteran and actively enlisted in the Army Reserves. Thanks to the assistance of VOA and Goodwill, Sgt. Stockham has regained employment — with the option to work overtime each week. Thanks to the additional overtime income, he is regaining financial stability, allowing him to pay his bills, take care of his house, and most importantly —  provide for his family! He even hopes to start his own security company in the near future. He is thankful for all of the assistance he has received along the way, empowering him to restore his DIGNITY and CONFIDENCE, and ensuring he is able to provide for his family.

“Good work, Sgt. Stockham…we are extremely proud of your progress!” Angela Handshumaker of Goodwill Industries of Tulsa.

This article originally appeared in the Warrior Partnerships of Eastern Oklahoma Newsletter, June 2016.

MORE

For assistance with training and job placement:

Goodwill Industries of Tulsa, TulsaWORKS Program
Contact Angela at (918) 581-1262 or ahandshumaker@goodwilltulsa.org
http://www.tulsaworks.org/

For assistance with training, job placement, and veteran to veteran mentorship:

VOA of Oklahoma, Helping Veterans Receive Paychecks (H.V.R.P.) assists veterans at risk of homelessness or homeless wanting to get back to employment and regain the dignity they once had. 
Contact Parrish at (918) 307-1500 or pmcdaris@voaok.org 
http://www.voaok.org/veteran-services



Out of season tax assistance with VITA
Goodwill Industries of Tulsa
 VITA Out of Season tax help available
 
The Tulsa Area United Way is excited to offer out of season tax assistance free for eligible individuals and families. 

Volunteer Income Tax Assistance is available to individuals or families earning a household income of under $54,000 a year.

Volunteers are available Tuesdays, 9 a.m.-1 p.m., at East Side Christian Church in Tulsa until September 27. They are ready to assist in you with meeting extension deadlines or tackling multiple previous years returns.

For what to bring and other information, click here or visit www.tauw.org/tauw/VITA_Program.



Goodwill Tulsa to stop taking furniture, TVs
Goodwill Industries of Tulsa

TO OUR VALUED DONORS:

Goodwill Industries of Tulsa will no longer be accepting furniture or televisions effective July 1, 2016.

OUR MISSION:

Goodwill Industries of Tulsa provides work opportunities, job training and support services for people with disabilities or other employment barriers.

STEWARDSHIP:

In fulfilling our mission, we endeavor to be good stewards of the donations we receive and make every effort to maximize the value of each item in order to generate revenue to support our programs. Unfortunately, there are some items that we have identified that cost more to handle than the revenue we can generate from selling them. In fact, many of the items are not salable and Goodwill has to bear the cost of disposing of them, taking monies away from our training programs.

SUSTAINABILITY:

We are committed to minimizing our impact on the environment and we have adopted green initiatives to achieve that goal, primarily through the reduction of landfill waste. In an effort to further reduce our environmental impact, we have identified furniture and televisions as the primary components of our landfill waste stream.

 

To further our commitment to sustainability, Goodwill Industries of Tulsa WILL NO LONGER BE ACCEPTING FURNITURE OR TELEVISIONS EFFECTIVE JULY 1, 2016.

We appreciate your continued support as we endeavor to reduce our environmental impact.

More

Visit our website for complete donation information.



Goodwill styles at Claremore fashion show
Goodwill Industries of Tulsa

Customer service manager Ramona Wimp and sales associate Liz Kallin of the Goodwill® Claremore Store were again models in the Claremore Hospital Auxiliary Style Show and Luncheon on May 5. Goodwill was one of 18 local businesses that participated in the event.

 
Goodwill® Claremore Store customer service manager Ramona Wimp (left), sales associate Liz Kallin 

 

 
Goodwill® Claremore Store customer service manager Ramona Wimp 


Goodwill opens Helm Center
Goodwill Industries of Tulsa

Goodwill Tulsa welcomed both new and familiar faces to the new Edgar J. Helms Center on Southwest Boulevard on Monday.

Located directly north of Goodwill’s headquarters, The Helms Center is the new home of Goodwill Contract Services. Monday was a homecoming for those employees. The program moved to Goodwill East Campus on East Admiral Place in 2001. Goodwill Contract Services fulfills Goodwill’s mission in a profound way by employing individuals with severe disabilities to work on subcontract jobs for civic minded local companies. Its work includes packaging and labeling; supplemental manufacturing; collating and secure document shredding.

Our forklift training program will now operate out of the Helms Center. Monday was also the first day of class for students in Shipping, Receiving & Warehousing. The new uniquely-designed course is a collaboration between Goodwill and Tulsa Community WorkAdvance.

June 8 is the scheduled grand opening for the Helms Center.

 
 Director Gail Ball (left) and assistant Kim Downs of Goodwill Contract Services at the reception desk at the Edgar J. Helms Center.

 

 

   

 

 
 Steven Pearce is the instructor of the Shipping, Receiving & Warehousing course.

 



Late season tax Q&A
Goodwill Industries of Tulsa

#Taxday is now fewer than two weeks away.

Here are answers to late-season questions you might have.

Q. Is the deadline to file April 15?

A. This year, the filing deadline for 2015 tax returns is Monday, April 18 because Washington, D.C. will celebrate Emancipation Day on Friday, April 15 (the traditional tax day). 

You still need more time to file? A taxpayer can apply for an automatic extension by sending Form 4868 to the IRS by April 18. The extension gives you until October 17 to file your taxes — but not to pay taxes you owe

Q. How do find out where my refund is?

A. For state of Oklahoma refunds, visit the Taxpayer Access Point or call (405) 521-3160.

For federal refunds, visit https://www.irs.gov/Refunds.

Q. What free tax prep sites are still open?

A. Goodwill Tulsa’s VITA site closes after this Saturday (April 9) for the season. Our partner Tulsa Area United Way sites remain open through April 14. Volunteer tax preparers plan to be at the Tulsa Dream Center on April 18 as well. Call 2-1-1 for times. For self-prep, Myfreetaxes.com is available until October 17 for taxpayers earning less than $62,000 in 2015.

(More information on free tax preparation)

Q. Where can I get help understanding my health care options?

A. How much your health care status affected your tax return may have surprised you. Local Healthcare Assistors offer free assistance in finding plans and even enrolling. Use the locator at HealthCare.gov to find a person or group in your community.

We hope these tips will help you meet that looming #Taxday deadline.



Hospitality training lab at TulsaWORKS
Goodwill Industries of Tulsa

(Updated: 3/7/16)

The lab for the Hospitality Training and Certification class at Goodwill TulsaWORKS is ready for service.

In the mock hotel space, students practice their skills setting up a hotel room and banquet table. Students also practice at a simulated hotel front desk in the main classroom.

Goodwill's Hospitality Training & Certification course is designed to help students gain skills to secure employment in the hospitality industry. Students also prepare to be successful on the certification exam through American Hotel and Lodging Educational Institute (AHLEI.) The training program features job shadowing at area hotels and guest speakers from the industry.

 
 
 
 
 

 

Goodwill TulsaWORKS deeply appreciates its Hospitality Training program partners: SJS Hospitality (Holiday Day Inn, Marriott TownePlace), Renaissance Tulsa, Metro Tulsa Hotel & Lodging Association, American Hotel & Lodging Educational Institute, Embassy Suites Tulsa, Hyatt Regency and InterContinental Hotels Group.    

Learn more about the class here



EITC could work for you
Goodwill Industries of Tulsa
 
 

Wondering about the EITC? Here’s a primer:

1. What is the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC)?

In 1975, Congress enacted the EITC to provide financial assistance for working families and individuals with low incomes. For the 2015 tax year, the EITC allows eligible workers, single or married, with or without children, to receive a tax refund of up to $6,242. You could use that money to fix up the home, or tune-up the car, or start saving for retirement or higher education, for example.
The EITC’s worth depends on family size and filing status, so it is essential that workers find out whether they qualify. And you have to file a federal tax return to claim the credit.

2. What are the income limits for EITC?

According to the IRS, a filer’s earned income and adjusted gross income (AGI) must each be less than the following for tax year 2015:

  • $47,747 ($53,267 married filing jointly) with three or more qualifying children
  • $44,454 ($49,974 married filing jointly) with two qualifying children
  • $39,131 ($44,651 married filing jointly) with one qualifying child
  • $14,820 ($20,330 married filing jointly) with no qualifying children

3. How much money can some families expect to receive by claiming the EITC?

According to the IRS, filers can receive the following for tax year 2015:

  • $6,242 with three or more qualifying children
  • $5,548 with two qualifying children
  • $3,359 with one qualifying child
  • $503 with no qualifying children

4. How many individuals fail to claim the EITC?

Only four out of five eligible Americans claim the EITC, according to the Internal Revenue Service, meaning 20 percent of those who qualify don’t claim it. However, families may back file as far as three years to claim the credit if they have not done so in the past.

5. How do I get started?

See this IRS fact sheet for more information. 

There are also free tax preparation services available to help.

MyFreeTaxes.com is an online resource that provides free federal and state tax preparation, and filing assistance online to individuals and families that qualify for EITC. 

Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) sites offer free tax preparation services for eligible individuals and families in the community. In Tulsa, Goodwill participates in the United Way’s VITA program, which hosts volunteer tax preparers at sites across the area. Daytime sites open at 9 a.m. and the evening site opens at 5 p.m. The sites open next week:

  • Monday: Tulsa Dream Center
  • Tuesday: East Side Christian Church
  • Wednesday: TCC
  • Thursday (evening): The Center for Individuals with Physical Challenges
  • Saturday: Goodwill Tulsa

During the 2014 tax-filing season, 65 Goodwill members hosted VITA sites or utilized MyFreeTaxes to help more than 40,000 people file tax returns for free or low cost. Goodwill is helping to put hard-earned money back into the pockets of families who need it most.

More

  1. Be cautious when reviewing your tax preparation needs. Steer clear of predatory lending practices that can drain money from your hard-earned tax refunds. With so many free resources available, such as the IRS e-file system and Goodwill VITA sites, consumers should review their options before opting for a short-term fix.
  2. To see if you qualify for EITC, visit the IRS website at www.irs.gov/eitc.
  3. For VITA location times, call 2-1-1.
  4. Visit goodwilltulsa.org/freetaxprep for more tax tips and information.


Goodwill employees make heartwarming gesture
Goodwill Industries of Tulsa
 
 Robyn Lisk and Hannah Iron of Goodwill 

 

Inspired by a Good Samaritan story in Maine, the retail team at the Stone Creek Goodwill® Store helped Tulsa’s homeless stay warm this past holiday season.

The team bought 38 coats for people in need instead of exchanging gifts, said store manager Robyn Lisk.

One night in late December, they tied bags packed with a coat, hats, gloves and socks to trees and poles near a church in downtown Tulsa. They attached notes, saying the bags were free for anyone who needed them.

Stone Creek customer service manager Hannah Iron saw a Today.com story on Facebook about a college student who had hung jackets she had thrifted on lamp posts in Portland, Maine. The woman had taped a note to each jacket: “I am not lost! Please take me if you need me.”

“Hannah thought that would be cool to do,” Lisk said.

 
 Tim Lisk (from left), Robyn Lisk, Connie Clevenger and Robert Lisk hang a bag with a coat in downtown Tulsa. The bag was free to anyone who needed it. / Photo by Hannah Iron

Lisk’s son, Tim, recommended the location near Trinity Episcopal Church on South Cincinnati, where Iron Gate operates a soup kitchen and food pantry. He used to see homeless people gather in the courtyard for a free breakfast when he was a security guard at the PSO building across the street (he took unarmed private security training at Goodwill TulsaWORKS).

“We chose that spot because we knew we would get some traffic,” Lisk said.

They were busy securing the bags to the trees under the glowing street lights, when a man approached Tim Lisk. He asked what they were doing. After explaining, Tim gave a pack to the man, who faded back into the darkened courtyard. A few moments later, the man returned saying he’d taken a women’s coat. Tim Lisk gave him another pack with a men’s coat and told him to take the other one back and “give it to somebody.”

“We heard squealing in the courtyard,” Lisk said. “They were so excited.”

The store team’s act of kindness had a double impact. They had provided warmth to a group of people living on the cold streets; and by purchasing the coats at Goodwill, they had supported Goodwill’s job training and employment programs.

“We’re going to do it every year,” Lisk said.




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