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Posts from 2019

Back To School Outfit Staples That Make Dressing To Impress That Much Easier
Goodwill Industries of Tulsa

By Felicia Czochanski
courtesy of Goodwill Industries International 

As Labor Day swiftly approaches, it’s time to start thinking about the inevitable. The end of lazy summer days and the start of classes. Before heading back to school, I would always make sure to plan my first few days of outfits. Especially for college students, whose schedules and professors are different each day of the week, it’s important to make a great first impression and look the part of an ambitious eager-to-learn student every day of syllabus week.

For unique style inspiration, I love heading to my favorite Goodwill stores and thrift shopping. It’s amazing to see how the sight of one unique piece of clothing can spark the idea of an entire outfit, which will be the source of compliments and conversation starters as you head back into the world of networking and making new friends. Plus, I love how each purchase you make at Goodwill goes directly to helping others in the community. Not only do you get some really great pieces for prices your wallet loves, but the amount you pay helps out others who need it as well. [Goodwill's Mission]

The photos below have a few of my favorite back to school looks, that are easy to put together and can be worn all throughout the fall. I love cozy fall looks that incorporate creative layers and mix end of summer attire with fall statement pieces.

1. Colored Denim
   It always amazes me to see how quickly on the first cool night people start breaking out the denim jackets. It’s almost as if they spend the summer craving denim jacket season and when the first inkling of fall arrives, the jackets can all come out of hibernation. Whether you’re a denim jacket aficionado or not, one look I’m loving this fall is colored denim. Bring a chic fall take on this staple piece, like the burnt orange colored jacket in the picture. It’s the perfect way to transition the summer dress into a fall look, while also keeping you warm at the same time. I also love the fall contrast the slouchy velvet shoulder bag brings to the look as well. Plus, it’s large enough to hold a laptop and notebook, which is perfect for toting everything to and from class.

 

2. Layered Dresses
   The layered dress, overall and jumpsuit look is going to be big again this fall. It’s the essential collegiate look for back to school, because it’s comfy and takes just a few seconds to curate from your closet. Whether you choose to go with a classic black and white look like in the photo, or you choose layers with pops of color, it just takes two steps to look really put together with an outfit like this one – which I know will come in handy for those with early class or work schedules! If you want to dress to impress without the hassle of coordinating an entire outfit, this should be your go-to look this fall, paired with slide-on loafers or low-heeled mules.

 



Economic needs turn into economic opportunity
Goodwill Industries of Tulsa

Many organizations in Oklahoma are working toward education and job skills training for the unemployed and underemployed. In fall 2018, Goodwill TulsaWORKS Career Academy (TWCA) began partnering with OK SNAP Works to provide recipients of Oklahoma’s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) with both specific job skills training and broader soft-skill development..

Oklahoma SNAP serves as the first line of defense against hunger. Now, through OK SNAP Works, recipients are also given the opportunity to gain skills, education, training and work experience.

“I help individuals on SNAP get to the right place,” Amanda, OK SNAP Works Field Representative said. “This includes a place where they receive the support needed to obtain credentials that provide employment opportunities previously unavailable to them.”

Through the partnership TWCA has served 126 OK SNAP Works recipients. Including Jimmy (left) who recently moved to Tulsa from Puerto Rico. “I came to Oklahoma when my wife and I lost everything in Hurricane Maria,” Jimmy said.

Jimmy and his wife lived in Brightwater Apartments in Tulsa, a community that recently received funding through the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Choice Neighborhood Initiative. He and his wife began receiving assistance from OK SNAP for groceries and support from the Mental Health Association of Oklahoma for housing and community resource navigation.

“I became depressed sitting at home all day and night,” Jimmy remembered. “I was unable to provide for my family like I had always done.” But then he was referred to Goodwill.

Jimmy’s previous work experience as a security guard in Puerto Rico gave him confidence as he trained to earn his CLEET license. The first week of class Jimmy was offered a job by a guest speaker from Owl Night Security and quickly began work upon earning his license.

Once completely dependent on the state’s many resources, Jimmy and his wife now live completely independent. “I am no longer in my home all day and night,” he shared. “I have a good job with good pay that allows me to pay my rent, buy my groceries, have two vehicles and be a good person in the community.”

The power of collaboration is showcased in Jimmy’s story. OK SNAP Works provided the funding necessary for him to attend class, provided transportation assistance, and also paid all of his licensing fees associated with his CLEET License. “I was expecting to find a way to pay on my own,” Jimmy said. “But everyone looked for resources to help me.”

“I hope our future shows continued growth and we see even more individuals have success like Jimmy,” Amanda shared. “TWCA’s support system and comfortable atmosphere allow participants to build their confidence and know they will make a valued contribution to any employer when hired.”

Goodwill’s mission is to provide work opportunities, job training and support services for people with employment barriers. Goodwill is proud to be one of the many vital pieces that turned a family with economic need into a family with economic opportunity.



How To Organize Your Classroom - On A Budget
Goodwill Industries International

By Felicia Czochanski
courtesy of Goodwill Industries International 

It’s starting. Back to school flyers are popping up in mailboxes and store advertisements are hinting at long lists of items students need for back to school. And as students scramble to finish up their summer reading assignments, teachers are already handing in their final lesson plans for the year and are starting to get their classrooms organized for fall.

Kicking off the school year with a clean and organized classroom is important and can even shape the success of the year. When students walk into an organized classroom versus a messy one, they have more respect for the room and the teacher, and they also know that they won’t be able to get away with shirking on their own responsibilities, because their teacher is on top of things. For teachers, however, creating a welcoming yet expectation-heavy classroom is no easy task. And many schools don’t have a budget for these types of organizational materials, so teachers end up paying out of their own pockets.

Fortunately, not all organizational hacks need to break the bank. Especially when you shop at Goodwill, where you’ll find a mix of well-loved and brand-new items that come with affordable price tags. And each time you shop or donate to Goodwill, you’re supporting their mission to break down barriers to employment, and provide others in your community with jobs, making shopping there a totally win-win experience.

When a lot of people think of Goodwill, the first thing they think of is second-hand clothes. But, most Goodwill stores have departments that go beyond the expected clothing and shoe racks. Think books, home goods, wall art, kitchen appliances and more. It’s in this home section that teachers will be able to find the items they need for some creative classroom organization. Check out the ideas below for more inspiration.

Whether you have an excess of pens and pencils for your desk, or markers and crayons for your students, mason jars are an inexpensive and easy-to-find organizational tool that will make your classroom look organized in just a few minutes. To take it one step further, label each jar with what you want it to hold and that way both you and your students will know where to put everything back after they are done using it.

 

There are some really cool looking dish racks out there these days – so much so that you won’t even be able to tell what it used to be. Dish racks can come in handy for organizing notebooks, papers, stickers, folders and more. Just about every Goodwill I’ve been in has had at least one and they’re priced really reasonably. The one in the photo was found at a Goodwill near me in Brooklyn, for the low price of $4.

 

If you teach younger children, (or have a few of your own) you know how quickly toys can get strewn across the floor and into a mess. Goodwill’s home section not only sells toys for $1-3 each – just give them a run in the washing machine and they’ll be good as new – but also woven baskets which are perfect for organizing them when playtime is over. I’ve seen baskets in a variety of sizes, some are perfect for toys and stuffed animals and others look like they would be great to hold blankets or pillows for storytime. The baskets I saw were reasonably priced at around $5 for larger baskets, which would run you $30+ at other retail stores.



Goodwill Repeats as a Veteran Employer Champion
Goodwill Industries of Tulsa

For the second consecutive year, City of Tulsa Mayor G.T. Bynum, Community Service Council and Oklahoma Veteran Alliance recognized Goodwill Industries of Tulsa as a Veteran Employer Champion for supporting veterans in the workplace.

The Veteran Employer Champions program is the product of a statewide survey launched at a Governor’s Veteran Symposium in October 2017 with the goal of building an employer network to create programming and peer-to-peer learning for organizations interested in recruiting, hiring and developing veterans in the workplace.

This is the second year for the Veteran Employer Champion Survey. For 2019, Goodwill and the other recipients had to show a deeper level of work to be recognized. The survey encourages employers to continually take intentional steps to ensure they are creating a veteran-ready workplace to be recognized as a champion.

Courtesy Photo: City of Tulsa Mayor G.T. Bynum (center) stands with representatives from Goodwill Tulsa and others at the Veteran Employer Champions announcement ceremony on July 1. (From left) Panela Ballard, CEO of the Community Service Council; David Oliver, president of Goodwill Industries of Tulsa; Sabrina Ware, director of Goodwill TulsaWORKS Career Academy and Goodwill Job Connection; Parrish McDaris, coordinator of TulsaWORKS; Rick Wyatt, human resources assistant at Goodwill; and Denise Reid, board member of the Community Service Council.

To earn recognition as a Veteran Employer Champion, companies must meet six benchmarks: veteran hiring and recruiting; veteran resource groups, onboarding, or buddy programs; veteran programs and community support; veteran employee resources and/or supports; veteran executive sponsor leading veteran strategies; and guard and reserve employee supports.

Including Goodwill, 14 companies were recognized Monday: American Electric Power/Public Service Company of Oklahoma; Americon Technologies; Baker Hughes, a GE Company; Berryhill Fire Protection District; Chesapeake Energy Corporation; City of Tulsa; Enterprise Holdings; Lowe’s; Melton Truck Lines; NextOp; ONE Gas; ONEOK; and Spirit AeroSystems. The program recognized Bizjet International with an honorable mention.

Goodwill is committed to helping veterans succeed in the workplace as are others like the City of Tulsa, which is taking a lead effort in expanding employment opportunities for veterans within the Tulsa community.

“We want Tulsa to be a city where veterans are honored for their sacrifice with community support, economic opportunities and quality healthcare,” Mayor Bynum said. “Our goal with this program is to properly recognize those community partners who demonstrate their commitment to supporting Tulsa veterans with meaningful employment and growth opportunities.”

More



Google volunteers lend a hand at Goodwill
Goodwill Industries of Tulsa

On June 28, Google employees from the Mayes County Data Center in Pryor volunteered at Goodwill TulsaWORKS Career Academy.

Their visit was in connection with GoogleServe, a yearly volunteer program for Google employees that runs a whole month, often in June. "Googlers" fan out across the globe during that time, offering their skills, talents and assistance to nonprofits and other causes.

TulsaWORKS helps participants move upward by providing engaging career training programs, continuing education seminars and certifications in demand-driven career fields. The Google volunteers did mock interviews with TulsaWORKS students, giving them an opportunity to practice what they had learned in class.

Other Google volunteers led resume workshops for the students.

Of course, at the end of a busy afternoon, there was still time for a group photo.

Thanks, Googlers!



Making the Most of Your Summer
Goodwill Industries International

By Julia Marchand
Courtesy of Goodwill Industries International

How do you know when you’re doing summer right? Simple. When you’re spending as much time outside every day as possible and saving money on your summertime essentials. If you live in a place that celebrates all four seasons, there’s just something so special about the summer. We shiver through winter dreaming of sunlit afternoons lounging on the lawn, so we owe it to ourselves to take full advantage of these radiant days.


Image from Goodwilltips.blogspot.com

Here at Goodwill®, we would love to help you make the most of your summer. Let’s start with attire, shall we? For some women, summer means dressing in less to keep cool, but feeling uncomfortable doing so. Don’t feel discouraged, ladies! It isn’t just you. The truth is that most women have some insecurities once their summer skin starts to show. But every body type has a flattering fit; it’s finding it that can be the challenge. Happily, Goodwill Industries of Michiana (South Bend, IN) has done the work for you – at least where shorts are concerned. Check out their recent post on finding the best shorts for your body type, and embrace those summertime vibes!
Image from Goodwilltips.blogspot.com

Now that you’ve pinned down a summer clothing solution and you’re feeling a little more comfortable, let’s head outside! Of course, hitting the beach, hiking and biking are all viable options for August activities, but let’s not underestimate the relaxing qualities of gardening in your own backyard! Goodwill Industries of Akron (OH) nailed it with this post that shares four ways to repurpose thrifted items into planters. Our favorite is the bundt-pan-turned-floral-centerpiece. The umbrella post goes right through the center of the pan to hold it in place – Brilliant! 
Image from Goodwillakron.org

But why step inside after the sun goes down? You don’t have to if you follow this DIY tutorial from Houzz.com. With a quick trip to your local Goodwill and a hardware store, you can put together a dreamy solar-powered table lamp like this and enjoy summer breezes well into the night.
Photo: Other by Indianapolis Furniture & Accessories Upholstery Club’s Shelly Leer. Image from Houzz.com.

While you’re browsing your local Goodwill in search of the perfect shorts, planters or lamps, keep in mind that it is just one of 164 independent, community-based Goodwill agencies in the United States and Canada that provide employment training, job placement services and other community-based services to 9.8 million people annually. Your purchases are making that mission possible! Enjoy saving money and making the most of your summer. We still have more than a month to go!

 

Julia Marchand is a home decor/DIY blogger at LITTLEroost. From her little roost in rural New England, fueled by coffee and fresh air, Julia blogs for Goodwill Industries International creating sustainable DIY, home decor, and fashion content from thrifted finds.



TulsaWORKS keys on accessibility to courses
Goodwill Industries of Tulsa; TulsaWORKS Career Academy

The mission at Goodwill TulsaWORKS Career Academy is to help people gain job skills and earn recognized certifications in order to improve their employability or to advance in their career.

This year, TulsaWORKS has implemented major changes to ensure that it is more accessible to the underemployed as well as the unemployed. Here is what is new in 2019.

More Evening Classes

A typical class day begins at 8:30 a.m. at 2800 Southwest Boulevard. However, the Workplace Computer Skills and Computer Support Tech Training courses have an evening option, from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m., on Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Both are 6-week courses. Workplace Computer Skils is designed for individuals pursuing careers that require computer usage (which is most jobs these days). Computer Support Tech Training teaches computer troubleshooting and repair skills, and prepares participants for the CompTIA A+ Certification exam.

The monthly Continuing Education Unit Seminars for Unarmed Private Security are now on Wednesday evenings that coincide with TulsaWORKS' Phase I and Phase II Unarmed Private Security courses. The Wednesday sessions are 5:30 to 9:30 p.m. except for the June and July seminars, which will be offsite at the Tulsa County Sheriff's Office training facility on Saturdays from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. This change enables our security employers to engage at the same time with every security class offered at Goodwill TulsaWORKS. The courses and CEU seminars are designed for people looking to earn or maintain their Council on Law Enforcement Education and Training (CLEET) license. 

“The TulsaWORKS Career Academy training opportunities were meeting the demand for unemployed participants,” said Parrish McDaris, TulsaWORKS coordinator. “We realized that many more people would benefit, especially those underemployed, if we made our training an option in the evenings as well as during the day and on the weekends.”

Weekday Options Expand

The Forklift/Material Handling seminar has a new session, Tuesday through Thursday from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. The current Saturday session, from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., remains an option. Both sessions are held monthly. The seminar teaches the safe operation of a forklift through hands-on practice in the learning space at Goodwill's Edgar J. Helms Center.

Lab time is now offered for every digital class Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. and has already proven useful for many TulsaWORKS participants.

“We want everyone to have equal access to the opportunity and the resources to rise above their current circumstances, and have the career they may have thought was no longer possible," McDaris said.



Goodwill DIY: 3 Ways to Update Thrifted Baskets
Goodwill Industries International

By Julia Marchand
courtesy of Goodwill Industries International 

Quick quiz — what screams summer, makes organizing a cinch in any place at all (even on the go!), and is waiting for you at your local Goodwill? Thrifted baskets!

From burly laundry baskets to breezy woven seagrass, these permanently picnic-ready decor pieces will feel right at home in every room of your home and even out on adventures! Today we’ll highlight three quick and easy ways you can customize thrifted baskets for looks and functionality.

To add trendy tassels you’ll need:

  • A basket
  • Yarn
  • A small book or something else that makes just the right size tassels
  • Tapestry needle (Optional — can be helpful if the basket’s weave is tight)

 

Step 1: Wrap the yarn around the book (or whatever you found) until it looks thick enough. I went around 18 times. Slide the loops off of the book and cut along one end.

 

Step 2: With the yarn still folded in half, place a new length of yarn through the center of it. Then, lay that on top of another horizontal string. Double knot the horizontal piece of yarn around the tassel. You can wrap this around as many times as you want before tucking the ends inside the tassel if you want to (I kept it simple with mine).

 

Step 3: Repeat steps one and two until you have enough tassels.

 

Step 4: With the knots you just made placed against the basket, thread the top strings of the tassels through the basket and double knot them in place around the weave. If your basket’s weave is too tight for you to do this with just your fingers, use a tapestry needle to get through the narrow nooks. Do this, evenly spaced, all the way across the top of the basket.

 

Next up, I loved the unique shape of this square basket that I spotted while out thrifting, but I knew that adding some handles would make it easier to carry while full. While I was at it, I figured I’d just slap on a chalkboard label, too, so I could stick it up high on a shelf if I wanted to and I’d still know what was inside.

 

To add handles and a label you’ll need:

  • A basket
  • Faux-leather belt
  • Tough string
  • Tapestry needle
  • Paint mixing stick (or similarly thin wood)
  • Saw to cut the paint mixing stick
  • Power drill with a small bit (I used 1/8” bit)
  • Small paint brush
  • Chalkboard paint
  • Hammer
  • Nail
  • Scrap wood
  • Chalk marker
  • Sandpaper

 

Step 1: Cut your thin wood to the right size for your label. I used a saw to slice a 3.25” long section of the paint mixing stick. After that, drill two small holes toward either end of the label. Sand all sides well then wipe off the dust. Paint with chalkboard paint according to the container’s instructions and let dry.

 

Step 2: Measure two lengths of the belt to make the handles. Mine are each 6” long. Use the actual holes in the belt or add your own holes by hammering them in with scrap wood behind the belt.

 

Step 3: Thread a length of string through the needle, position the handles and label (after it’s completely dry) wherever you’d like them, and thread them through the basket’s weave to be secured with a knot on the inside. Try to stitch the needle between the weave of the basket if possible so you aren’t poking holes into the straw/wood itself.

 

This last one is easy as pie and just as charming. I found this basket a couple of months ago and I love its size and shape so much. However, I noticed that since I keep it in a little nook in my bedroom, it tends to look pretty dark and shadowy over there. I was looking for a way to brighten this piece up and a fresh strip of white paint definitely helped!

 

To get that paint-dipped look you’ll need:

  • A basket
  • Paint (I used spray paint, but you don’t have to)
  • Paint brush if necessary
  • Painter’s tape
  • Newspaper

 

Step 1: Tape off the section you want to paint making sure to cover everything you don’t want to be painted. Remember that paint (especially spray paint) can seep through the basket’s weave so you may want to fill the basket with paper on the inside, too. Press the tape firmly into place so nothing can sneak through!

 

Step 2: In a well-ventilated area, paint the bottom with spray paint or by hand with a brush. Make sure you follow the directions on your paint to make sure you’re doing it safely.

 

Each of these is just a quick afternoon project that adds personality to one of the most versatile items on Goodwill shelves. Pile ’em high with picnic supplies, replace your beach bag with something boho, or get a grip on your indoor organization. You could even use your thrifted basket to tote donations in on your next thrift store trip! Goodwill is where your stuff goes to work and any baskets you buy there are sure to carry more than their fair share of the workload. Have fun making them your own!

 


Julia Marchand is a home decor/DIY blogger at LITTLEroost. From her little roost in rural New England, fueled by coffee and fresh air, Julia blogs for Goodwill Industries International creating sustainable DIY, home decor, and fashion content from thrifted finds.

 



Spring Career Fair returns at Goodwill
Goodwill Industries of Tulsa

Goodwill believes bringing together job seekers and employers is an important part of our mission.

Employers need help finding available job candidates. Job seekers need information about available job openings. Goodwill responds to those needs by hosting hiring events at our Goodwill Job Connection locations, and career fairs at the Goodwill Edgar J. Helms Center.

On Tuesday, April 23, we will host our Spring Career Fair from 10:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Dozens of actively hiring employers are expected. The career fair is free to attend for job seekers. You can browse at your own pace and visit with employers in the fields of your interests without feeling pressured to stop at every booth.

However, networking is another valuable aspect of career fairs. So, taking just a little time to visit with employers and get their contact information could pay off down the road. If you are uneasy with this step, read this article from The Balance Careers for tips.

Sunny Martinez, COO and publisher of The Job Guide, had a booth at the Goodwill career fair this past October. She enjoyed being a resource for the attendees, taking the time to listen and direct them.

“I like to help,” she said, “I send people to places they might be interested in and encourage them to try ones they’re not used to hearing about.”

Eric, who lives in Tulsa, also attended the career fair in October. He said he had been out of the workforce since 2005, and so it had been a long time since he had got out to talk with employers. Eric spoke with at least 10 employers in a little over an hour at the career fair.

“I liked being able to speak with a person,” Eric said. “There were a ton of good jobs over there.”

More

  • Job seekers can use the regularly updated list of participating employers on our website or Facebook to research those they might want to visit with during the career fair.
  • The Job Guide is a bi-weekly employment publication with distribution in northwest Arkansas, southwest Missouri and the Tulsa Metro area. Learn more about this resource at thejobguide.com.
  • Visit a Goodwill Job Connection near you to prepare for the career fair. You can get copies of your updated resume and research companies on our public computers. No appointment necessary, however, we recommend to come at least a week before the career fair. Location information


TulsaWORKS Class Spotlight: Google IT Support Professional Certification
Goodwill Industries of Tulsa; TulsaWORKS Career Academy

Although the students share common goals, they have different motivations for taking the Google IT Support Professional Certification course at Goodwill TulsaWORKS Career Academy.

TulsaWORKS offers a suite of digital training courses that prepare participants for different aspects of the IT industry, from computer basics to recognized certifications. Google IT Support Professional Certification is an 8- to 12- month course that provides intense training on entry-level IT skills. Participants learn through self-paced virtual training at home and weekly onsite class work at TulsaWORKS with instructor Montana Nanney.

The Google IT Support Professional Certificate is a plus for anyone looking for a career in the industry. However, talking with some of the students at a recent class revealed each one has his or her own motivation for mastering the IT arts.


Instructor Montana Nanney (second from right) with students in the Google IT Support Professional Certification class at TulsaWORKS.

Ricky has a job with the IT Help Desk for San Diego County. He says he had the confidence to apply for the post because of the skills he learned in the IT track at TulsaWORKS. Now in the Google IT Support Professional class, Ricky can keep striving and get better in his career field.

"You learn a lot, you grow." Ricky said, taking a pause from an exercise in password management. "(The class) is going to make you grow and get you to where you want to go."

Vungh wants to enter the IT support industry for a very practical reason: It pays well.

Vungh has been out of work for five months and he missed the enrollment period for IT Fundamentals. However, Montana was able to get him enrolled in the Google IT Support Professional class while Vungh waited so he could keep his skills sharp. Now he is taking both classes. He said he does a majority of the class work at home, but enjoys the onsite lab time.

Vungh has his eyes on more IT training with the goal of eventually working as a junior network administrator.

"I like where it's leading me now," Vungh said.

Lorna, a retired nurse, is in her second career as a small business owner. Lorna is also a nontraditional student: She turns 60 this summer. Grateful for the opportunity to "still learn," Lorna has a better command of Excel after taking the Workplace Computer Skills class at TulsaWORKS. With the Google IT Support Professional classwork, Lorna sees herself becoming more proficient in topics such as networks, encryption, website construction, and hardware connectivity.

"Every business owner needs to know these things," Lorna said. "It's the life and death of your business."

Lorna believes Goodwill is providing a great service for small-business owners: "They are teaching you how to be the CEO and CFO of your company."

"One quality that runs through here is that it's real instruction," Lorna said. "There are very qualified people here."

Lorna is on the verge of launching the full vision for her small business. She understands the magnitude of the undertaking and she wants to be prepared.

"My business. That's why I'm taking all of this," Lorna said.

Denise was encouraged to enroll in Google IT Professional Support training after she breezed through the IT Fundamentals class at TulsaWORKS. She needed less than two weeks of the six allotted to finish the first module of Google IT Professional Support. Even though Denise has past experience working with ATMs in the 1980s, she is a little surprised that Google IT Professional Support is coming so easily.

Her class experiences have rekindled Denise's interest in computer technology.

"Montana helps a lot; he encourages you," she said. "He says ‘you know more than you think.' He makes it seem not quite so complicated."

Denise's goal is to work on a company's internal tech support team. She takes the Computer Support Tech Training/A+ class during the day and appreciates that she can work on her Google IT Support Professional coursework either at home, or at the library, or at Goodwill.

"I tell everyone about Goodwill," she said about the class offerings, "I tell strangers about it."



Visiting with VITA volunteers
Goodwill Industries of Tulsa

 

While the winds were howling outside on Saturday morning, inside Goodwill’s doors over 50 tax returns were processed for our community members.

Goodwill is one of five host sites for Tulsa Area United Way’s Volunteer Income Tax Assistance Program (VITA). This service is designed to serve families with free income tax return preparation by IRS trained and certified volunteers.

This was Keryn’s first year as an IRS-certified tax preparer and she reports the challenges and rewards of a hard working day. “Assisting someone with their tax return is a big responsibility,” she said. “You want to ensure every box is checked and all entries are accurate.” But the reward is even bigger for Keryn. “It is my personal mission to take my personal time to serve the community,” she said.

   
 A volunteer works with a client at Goodwill’s Voluntary Income Tax Assistance (VITA) site.

Volunteers like Keryn make days like today possible. Another hero with no cape is Robin, the Goodwill VITA Site Coordinator. He assists those whose returns are rejected. “If the IRS has a question upon submission, I assist the individuals to ensure their return is accepted,” Robin said.

He has served as a VITA volunteer for years and has now earned a leadership role that comes as no surprise once speaking with him. Robin’s outlook is simple – “I like numbers,” he said. “So I enjoy helping others who may not like numbers as much as I do.”

Robin encourages the community members to stop by the Goodwill VITA site this season. “It’s a free service,” he said. “And you are in good hands with experienced volunteers who are here to help!”

Tax preparation starts at 9 a.m., but doors open at Goodwill at 8 a.m. Plan to get here early this Saturday to ensure you land one of the 50 spots available.

MORE

  • For more information on eligibility requirements, visit Tulsa Area United Way VITA information
  • Or for free tax assistance outside the Tulsa area, visit this online form or call 2-1-1.


Librarians stretch book budget at Goodwill
Goodwill Industries of Tulsa
 
 

Melodie Sivadon Reader and Kristin Haddock are longtime friends who love shopping at Goodwill for themselves -- and for work.

Last month, they came to the Goodwill Southwest Boulevard Store to buy books for the Bartlett-Carnegie Sapulpa Public Library, where they are librarians.

“We enjoy shopping at Goodwill, as they have a great selection of gently-used and new books at a great price,” said Melodie, Children & Young Adult librarian. “Low prices help stretch our book purchasing budget, which means we may purchase more books. This, in turn, makes both our patrons and librarians very happy."

The two librarians recognize the dual benefit of their Goodwill trips. The library restocks its collection with more books, and the purchases support Goodwill’s work in the community. Goodwill provides job training and employment opportunities for people with disabilities or other disadvantages.

The librarians’ book budget was $1,500. Kristin, assistant librarian at Sapulpa Public Library, had brought a 10-page shopping list.

“I was able to check off a lot,” she said.

They filled several tote bins with easy readers for kids, chapter reading level books, and young adult books, both fiction and non-fiction. For adult books, their selections ran the gamut of romance, Christian fiction, sci-fi, fantasy, and mystery with varied fiction thrown in.

   
A Goodwill trip really pays off when they are able to find a missing book in a series that a library patron has been eager to read. The librarians keep their eyes open for manga and graphic novels, which are also popular among patrons. They will sometimes pick up DVDs and videos.

Just as it is for other thrift shoppers, the joy is finding unexpected gems. For Melodie and Kristin, those can be recent releases in nearly new condition, large print editions and Westerns.

“We have so much fun,” Melodie said of the Goodwill shopping trips.

The librarians said they do have to shop other bookstores, primarily for the latest releases. They also thoroughly appreciate the donated books they receive. However, they are trying to meet circulation demands for inside and outside the library (such as nursing homes). So, in the face of tightening budgets and cutbacks, they have to make the book budget go further.

For similar reasons, teachers, homeschoolers and many other educators use Goodwill as a resource for classroom materials. Our “Book Nooks” are neat and well organized so that shoppers can easily find what they need. We can offer a great variety of book genres and authors because of the generosity of our donors. We ship approximately 17,800 books a week to our 11 stores. Each and every one of those is needed to keep our book sections well-stocked. 

With no more room in the trunks of the librarians’ cars, but plenty of space left in their spending budget, a return trip was definitely in order. “We look forward to returning to Goodwill to complete the final purchases for our PO in the next few weeks,” Melodie said.



Goodwill Program Highlight: Transition Work Adjustment Training
Goodwill Industries of Tulsa

 

It was a full day of activities in Goodwill’s Transition Work Adjustment Training classroom. Students with Autism Spectrum Disorder from surrounding public high schools come here for half of their school day to prepare for entering the workforce upon graduation. Today the students worked on appropriate work behaviors through a group game, an interactive module, and role play.

The students tossed a ball with conversation topics on it. Whichever topic their thumb landed on, is the subject they started a discussion about with their classmates. The scenario given to them today by their instructor was – In The Break Room At Work. The students practiced different topics suitable for work. Their Goodwill instructor, Gary, coached them along as the students picked up social cues to determine interest in the topic to know when to continue and when to conclude the conversation. 

 

   

Then the lights dimmed and the projector screen lowered as the students worked through an online module of appropriate communication with your boss. This interactive video introduced a new employee who was unhappy with the silly uniform her boss asked her to wear at work. The Goodwill instructor clicked through three video clips of interactions between the employee and her boss. Then the students had to choose the clip that is most appropriate for work and discuss why.

“I like the video modules we do in class the most,” Billy said. “Because it teaches body language and tone.”

   

Next the students worked through a worksheet as they took turns role playing the various work situations. The Employer, played by Smith, was typing at his desk when the employee, played by Daniel, walked in asking to leave work early. Smith politely declined Daniel’s request by stating they were understaffed and needed him to stay. Daniel played out what to do and then a second time for what not to do.

 

   

The students eagerly volunteered for the various roles, and were all engaged as their classmates let the story play out. The students all agreed hands-on exercises like this help them recall and rely on appropriate work communication outside of the classroom.

“It can be difficult to practice what we learn here in our other classrooms or at home,” Daniel said, “but when I do get to teach others what I’ve learned, it’s cool.” 



A Goodwill Date Night
Goodwill Industries of Tulsa

Every year we see countless couples visit our stores for what has become known as a #GoodwillDateNight. This is when each person picks out their significant other’s outfit at Goodwill with a $10 budget.

Oftentimes the outfits are vintage or themed, but our Tulsa couples were challenged to select items their significant other would love to wear any time, any day!

Angie and Christina breezed through our men’s department for jeans, khakis, collared shirts and shoes. While Ryan and Lane tirelessly searched for styles that would please the girls. Because a patterned shirt is a patterned shirt, right ladies? Wrong.

  

“It was fun trying to pick out outfits for Ryan,” Angie said. “But it was even more fun getting to see what Ryan was picking out for me.”

The girls couldn’t say a word. Because this is the guy’s chance to select what he thinks her style is. But the girl’s facial expressions could not tell a lie.

By a process of elimination, the guys finally got it right... and selected clothing items both the guys and girls liked!

At the register our shoppers were able to stay within their budgets for each other. “There was a wide variety of stuff,” Ryan said.  “It was surprising to see how far $10 could get you.”

Both couples encourage others to venture to Goodwill for a fun and affordable date night this Valentine’s Day. “Definitely plan a #GoodwillDateNight,” Christina said. “It can be everyday clothes or wacky! It was just hilarious to watch what your partner picks out for you and what they think would look good on you!”

Couple #1 – Total Budget $20

Angie’s Top: $4.99

Angie’s Vest: $7.99

Ryan’s Shirt: $4.99

GRAND TOTAL: $17.97

Couple #2 – Total Budget $2

Christina’s Top: $4.99

Christina’s Pants: $5.49

Lane’s Pants: $5.99

Lane’s Shirt: 50% off marked price of $4.99
 because it was the Tag # of the week

GRAND TOTAL: $18.97



Goodwill TulsaWORKS Success Story: Meet Keonna
Goodwill Industries of Tulsa

 

Keonna, 33, knows what she needs to do to be successful at her job as a Goodwill donation attendant.

The 17th and Yale Avenue attended donation center in Tulsa, where Keonna has worked for nine years, is a busy site. They can serve up to 100 people a day, Keonna said, so she has to be on point  and on time.

Getting to work by 9 a.m. (10 a.m. on Saturdays) could be a challenge as Keonna does not have a car and has to use public transportation. No problem. Keonna has figured out her commute, which now involves two bus trips and a short walk to the site. She has to allow for a good two and a half hours to make sure she is on time. She knows the Tulsa Transit system so well that she can map out a trip itinerary for others off the top of her head.

Keonna has met the transportation challenge head on. She approaches her disability in the same way. Keonna believes that her diagnosis does not define her. She carries herself such that you probably would not even notice a disability.

“She’s a leader,” said Goodwill Job Share Program Manager Rhonda Hall. If something needs to be done, Keonna will do it. And if a change is needed to make things run smoother at the donation center, Keonna will look to implement it. She demonstrates great customer service to her co-workers, who look to her for encouragement and her job knowledge.

Keonna’s dedication has been evident since she came to Goodwill out of high school in 2004. She was a contract service worker at the former Goodwill East Campus in Tulsa, where she did packaging and light-assembly work for companies. Her supervisor believed she could handle more challenging work (“I was fast at it!” Keonna added), so Keonna applied for and got the donation attendant position.

Rhonda helped Keonna overcome her shyness on the job and to learn to keep her spirits up at work.

“Just because you had a bad day you can’t take it out on the customers,” Keonna said.

Even when there are multiple cars waiting to unload and many full carts to sort, she said she does not let it overwhelm her. The work is fun and it keeps her busy. Job coach Jeanette and her coworkers feel like “family.” She enjoys interacting with donors, meeting new people and seeing the interesting things they bring.

“Are you sure you don’t want a tax receipt, this is pretty nice stuff?” Keonna often asks.

Having a good job also helps Keonna maintain order in her personal life. And she sees her personal growth from someone who could be “a handful” to a mature young woman who can be serious about work and still find joy in it.

At work and at home, Keonna keeps herself busy. She takes walks in her spare time; she has a goal of 8,000 steps per day, around 3,000 of which she gets during her commute to work, another benefit of the job.

Sometimes, when she gets home after a day of work, it can still be hard to shut it down, Keonna admitted.

“I want an extra day,” she said with a laugh.



Make Tax Time, Savings Time
Goodwill Industries of Tulsa

Believe it or not, you can actually save money during this tax season!

The deadline to file federal returns is Monday, April 15. Goodwill will be one of five local sites providing free income tax preparation as part of the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) Program. Tulsa Area United Way coordinates this IRS program locally through VITA sites where volunteers prepare federal and state income tax returns at no charge. Returns are filed electronically, also for no fee. Taxpayers with household income of $55,000 or less are eligible. Goodwill’s VITA site will be open Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. (or until we reach capacity) at 2800 Southwest Boulevard.

If you expect to receive a refund this year, make a vow to save some of it now. America Saves will help you stick to your commitment with free supports like motivational emails and savings tips. Learn more and register on the America Saves website.

You could even win a nice prize for committing to save. The SaveYourRefund campaign, a partnership between America Saves and Commonwealth, will give away 100 prizes of $100 throughout tax season and award two grand prizes of $10,000 each through a photo and caption contest in which tax filers share their motivation for saving. Our VITA volunteers can help file your return, set up your savings, and put together your contest entry. The winners from last year and their stories are on the SaveYourRefund campaign website

As you begin preparing to file your taxes this year, start thinking about building up that rainy day fund as well.

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