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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.

Instructor Montana Nanney (second from right) with Goodwill TulsaWORKS
Career Academy participants.

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 on-site 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.

 

 

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 see 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.”

 

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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.

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  • 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 $20

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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Goodwill TulsaWORKS Success Story: Meet Christine
Goodwill Industries of Tulsa

 

Christine shares how her confidence has boosted since attending courses at Goodwill TulsaWORKS Career Academy.

Currently living at Charles Page Family Village with her daughters, Christine has the opportunity to pursue job training and certifications that lead to better paying jobs and financial freedom. She is ready for a change and challenge, professionally. Christine is motivated to take the necessary steps toward her big goals! She encourages anyone who’s experienced a major life change, and has a chance to reinvent themselves, to come to Goodwill TulsaWORKS Career Academy.



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