We love our donors

By James Cherney, Retail Operations Director

James Cherney

Happy New Year! I would like to thank everyone who donated, shopped, volunteered, and assisted, Goodwill Industries of West Michigan in 2015. Your generous contributions helped someone in our community find a job, keep a job, and earn a paycheck. Work is something we should never take for granted; just ask a person who has a barrier to employment. Work provides a sense of purpose, self-esteem, and independence. The power of work really does change lives!

Goodwill’s mission, and our ability to serve others, comes from community. As we enter February — one of the coldest months of the year — I’m asking you to bear the snow and ice, and please donate your gently used items to any one of our 18 conveniently located donation centers.

Donations are the lifeblood of our mission; a mission that never stops or takes a time out due to inclement weather. Goodwill staff are ready to greet you and accept your unwanted clothing, toys, housewares, furniture, electronics, and more. Your donations are handled with great care, and sorted and processed for their fullest value, for someone else to use and enjoy.

Need a receipt? Our easy online donation calculator does the math for you and allows you to print out an itemized receipt for your tax records.

Thank you for a wonderful 2015, we are looking forward to an even more prosperous 2016, and with your assistance we will be able to serve more people this year and many more years to come.

To find a Goodwill store and donation center nearest you, visit: http://www.goodwillwm.org/donate/where-to-donate/

To utilize the Goodwill donation calculator, visit: http://www.goodwillwm.org/donate/donation-calculator/

Gearing up for tax season

By Carl Lewis, Tax Program Coordinator

carl lewis

E

ach tax season brings a great opportunity to assist more people in the community. As the new Tax Program Coordinator at Goodwill, I am excited to be a part of this positive impact.

I have several years of volunteer experience with Goodwill’s free tax preparation program, Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA). It has always been a pleasure to work with people and assist them. In my former position as a financial coach, I found that tax time is the perfect opportunity to help people get back on track with their finances. The lump sum of money a person receives from a return, allows me a chance to identify an individual’s financial goals and help to achieve them.

I have a strong appreciation for the education the free tax preparation program provides, and it has been a pleasure to train and work with others. It is satisfying to share my knowledge and know that I am helping others learn a valuable life-long skill. All of our volunteers providing tax assistance are certified by the IRS.

With constant changes occurring on a state and national level, people requesting assistance have access to capable volunteers who can provide the answers. Changes with the healthcare system and the Affordable Care Act have caused great concern. We like to utilize the tax program as a platform to help clarify the impact of insurance on tax returns as well as provide information on resources. Filers also often have questions about the numerous forms, the legal requirements of filing, exemptions they are eligible for, and more. We can help!

There has always been a passion for volunteerism and community in my life. I am excited for this new endeavor as a leader with this program. I am looking forward to a robust tax season and helping individuals and families receive the funds they are entitled to.

If you are interested in getting help with your taxes, learning about our service offerings and eligibility requirements, or want to find out where and when services are offered, please visit our all-in-one website: www.vitawestmichigan.org or call 2-1-1 to schedule an appointment.

If you earned less than $62,000 last year, and would like to file on your own, visit www.myfreetaxes.com and file for free using easy, safe, and secure software provided by H&R Block.

Making a mercury glass tree

By Rachael Crevier, Internet Marketing & Events Coordinator

ME

As a new homeowner, I’ve been searching for unique and low cost items to decorate my home with.

1When I found this adorable glass tree at our Roosevelt Park store in Muskegon, for only $1.50, I knew I had to get it! I had been swooning over items similar to this that were decorated to mimic antique “mercury” glass (or silvered glass.) I decided to give it a try!

I hadn’t had any experience with this before so I took to Pinterest and YouTube for a little inspiration.

2My awesome $1.50 find, just got a little bath with soap and water, to remove the dust.

To create your own DIY (Do It Yourself) mercury glass tree/ vase you will need:

  • Krylon Looking Glass Spray Paint
  • White Vinegar
  • Water
  • A clean spray bottle
  • Cardboard
  • A clear glass pieces you want to transform from Goodwill of course!

I made the mistake of looking at a hardware/ appliance store for the spray paint. So skip that, and check your local craft store like Hobby Lobby, JoAnn Fabric’s, or Michael’s.

3Let’s get started!

  1. Lay out cardboard in ventilated area.
  2. Mix half, water and white vinegar in spray bottle.
  3. Shake spray paint really well (2 minutes and continue to shake throughout).
  4. Mist the vinegar mixture into the tree.
  5. Then mist the spray paint inside and swirl paint around to cover, let sit for 60 seconds.
  6. You will begin to see bubbles creating a texture on the glass.
  7. Repeat the vinegar and spray paint until desired look.

And you’re done!

Here’s how my mercury glass tree turned out…5

This technique can be applied many different ways, yet achieve similar results, depending on personal style. I wanted a heavier antiqued look, so I used multiple layers of spray paint and vinegar. For a more transparent look use less spray paint.

4I love how elegant yet rustic it can look. I put mine on our mantle with the rest of our tree collection. It was so easy and cost effective! Home decor shouldn’t break the bank!

Try your hand at transforming glassware into mercury glass looking creations.

Candlesticks, hurricane, votive, vases and other glassware found at Goodwill would also make lovely antiqued mercury glass pieces. You won’t be disappointed!

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Celebrate America Recycles Day

By James Cherney, Retail Operations Director

This Sunday — in recognition of America Recycles Day — clean out your closets and donate your unwanted clothing and other household items to Goodwill.

Did you know every time you donate to Goodwill you are recycling? Recycling isn’t only separating the paper and plastic, it’s extending the life of things you no longer need.

Every item you donate or purchase at a Goodwill store, is one less item thrown into the landfill. It’s instant recycling! The fact is, Goodwill was “green” before it became the trend that it is today. It was founded on the business model of selling donated items and we are proud of our commitment to helping the environment.

All our recycling really adds up! Last year alone we reused and recycled 10,312,095 pounds of material, and that doesn’t even include our recycled and refurbished electronic waste. Last year we diverted 1,291,967 pounds of electronic waste from the waste steam.

Recycling begins when someone makes a donation. Most of the time items pass our inspection and are tagged, hung, and ready to be sold. Other times items might not meet our quality standards (stains, holes, missing buttons) and are unable to be sold in our stores. The items are then sold to various third-party recyclers. Some items will be repurposed into new items like insulation or filling for furniture like chairs and couches.

We also manufacturer industrial wipers (“GoodWipers”) from unsaleable clothing. Our cotton tee-shirts and sweatshirts are sorted and cut into rags for use in machine shops, auto garages, manufacturers and more. The wipers are made by Goodwill program participants with disabilities and are paid an hourly wage.

Most importantly your donated items fund our mission of providing work opportunities and skill development to people with disabilities and other disadvantages.

So why not help people in your community — as well as the environment — and shop at and donate to Goodwill.

Celebrating 70 years of NDEAM

By Richard Carlson, President and CEO
NDEAM 2Each October, Goodwill Industries joins the nation in acknowledging the importance of employees with disabilities — a vital component of the U.S. labor force — during National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM).

This year’s celebration marks 70 years since President Truman authorized Congress to officially recognize workers with disabilities.

This year’s theme, developed by the U.S. Department of Labor is “My Disability Is One Part of Who I Am.” Jennifer Sheehy from the Office of Disability Employment Policy explains: “It encapsulates the important message that people with disabilities are just that — people. And like all people, we are the sum of many parts, including our work experiences.

It also underscores the fact that employees with disabilities bring a wide variety of skills to the table. They make up nearly 20 percent of America’s workforce, yet their unemployment rate is more than twice that of workers without disabilities. It is crucial that American employers continue to make efforts to hire workers of all backgrounds and abilities.

For 65 years Goodwill Industries of West Michigan has worked tirelessly to support job seekers with disabilities and specialized circumstances through training, placement, and employment efforts.

Supporting the needs of job seekers of varying needs and abilities is at the core of what we do at Goodwill every day. I am pleased to celebrate the achievements of our Goodwill program participants and graduates — and all employees with disabilities — during National Disability Employment Awareness Month.

Support employment opportunities for people with disabilities

By Jennifer Tucker, Mission Services Director

 

 

 

 

On July 26, the country will celebrate the 25th anniversary of the signing of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). This groundbreaking piece of legislation prohibits discrimination against people with disabilities in employment, education and public accommodation, and promotes equality for all Americans.

Goodwill has been dedicated to supporting employment opportunities for all people since its founding more than 113 years ago. Goodwill believes everyone should have the opportunity to live independently, earn wages and achieve their dreams. In 2014 alone, more than 426,000 men and women with disabilities found employment with Goodwill’s help.

The revenue generated from the sale of donations in Goodwill stores goes directly to promoting education, skills training and the power of work in local communities.

“I love my job. I used to not be able to go up to people and have a conversation.”

CJ

Christopher (“CJ”) was referred to us due to difficulties he experience with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, anxiety, and depression. Previously employed, CJ lost his position due to anger and anxiety issues. One of our Goodwill case managers worked one-on-one with CJ and found him a courtesy associate position at a Walmart near his home in Ludington, that offered the positive environment for him to thrive and grow. His skills and responsibilities have advanced beyond pushing carts to driving a forklift in the warehouse. After a year on the job, CJ recently purchased his first car and is planning for college.

Stories like CJ’s reinforce the importance of the work we do every day at Goodwill. Our services include career counseling, job placement, skills development, job training programs, and more.

While the ADA has grown opportunity and access to meaningful employment for Americans with disabilities, it’s clear that the challenges are far from over. In fact, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the unemployment rate for men and woman with disabilities is twice that of those without disabilities.

How can you help support employees with disabilities in West Michigan? Register for the Legislative Action Center so people can speak up for the rights of people with disabilities and the program that we provide.

Thank you for your support and for celebrating the 25th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Providing quality services to enhance lives

By Richard Carlson, President and CEO

Iam pleased to report that Goodwill Industries of West Michigan was recently awarded its 14th consecutive, three-year accreditation from CARF (Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities) International.

The accreditation award for our Goodwill includes these internationally recognized categories: Community Employment Services-Employment Supports, Community Employment Services-Job Development, Comprehensive Vocational Evaluation Services, Employee Development Services, Organizational Employment Services, and Governance Standards.

The goal of CARF is to ensure that persons served remain at the center of the service delivery process. By pursuing and achieving accreditation, Goodwill Industries of West Michigan has demonstrated that it meets international standards and is committed to pursuing excellence. This accreditation decision also represents the highest level of accreditation that can be awarded to an organization and recognizes that Goodwill Industries has put itself through a rigorous peer review process and has demonstrated to a team of surveyors during an on-site visit that its programs and services are of the highest quality, measurable, and accountable.

The CARF Survey Report contains comments on numerous areas of our organization strengths.

Here are a few excerpts from their findings:

  • Goodwill Industries of West Michigan is a mission-driven organization that provides person-centered services and demonstrates a remarkable commitment to continuous quality improvement of its business functions and service delivery practices. Particularly noteworthy are the organizations community engagement efforts and dedication to providing a safe work environment for persons served and staff members.
  • The organization maintains meticulous records and documentation that support compliance with Section 14(c) of the Fair Labor Standards Act. Its attention to detail in this area demonstrates a commitment and unwavering promise to offer an array of employment choices to persons served. Parents and persons served express deep satisfaction with services they receive from Goodwill Industries of West Michigan. A common theme in their comments is the professionalism, dedication, and enthusiasm of staff members and how often they “exceed expectations.”
  • There appears to be excellent rapport and mutual respect among the management team, staff members and persons served.  The high level of professionalism among staff members and the organization’s collaborative and respectful working conditions are evident. Local funders describe Goodwill Industries of West Michigan as a strong collaborator with the flexibility to successfully navigate the changing landscape of employment for persons with significant disabilities.
  • Goodwill Industries of West Michigan invested resources in a significant event and professionally created video that highlight and celebrate successful employment outcomes of persons served. The event includes multiple persons served and broadens the organization’s reputation as a premier provider of employment support services in the community.

Attaining and maintaining our CARF-accredited status requires a significant effort, strong teamwork, and a commitment at all levels of the organization to providing quality services and enhancing the lives of the people we serve. My appreciation is extended to our Goodwill board of directors, leadership teams, and all staff members for their dedication and commitment to the never-ending story of Goodwill’s mission to enhance people’s lives through the power of work.