Empowering ALL

disab

October is National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM) designed to shine a light on disability employment issues, and also to celebrate the many contributions of America’s workers with disabilities.

Led annually by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Disability Employment Policy, this year’s theme is “America’s Workforce: Empowering All.”

“Americans of all abilities must have access to good, safe jobs,” said U.S. Secretary of Labor Alexander Acosta. “Smart employers know that including different perspectives in problem-solving situations leads to better solutions. Hiring employees with diverse abilities strengthens their business, increases competition and drives innovation.”

Goodwill Industries of West Michigan is proud support National Disability Employment Awareness Month and works diligently to develop and provide work opportunities for people with disabilities — both within our own social enterprises and through job placement assistance in the community.  We want to spread the important message that we value all the skills and talents of all individuals, including those with disabilities and other barriers to employment.

Employers and employees in all industries can learn more about how to participate in National Disability Employment Awareness Month and ways they can promote its messages — during October and throughout the year — by visiting  www.dol.gov/ndeam.

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Salem-Inspired Spooky Tablescape

Halloween Salem Tablescape Social Media Graphic.png

Every fall, like many New Englanders, my family and I make a day trip to Salem, Massachusetts. With its haunting history and one-of-a-kind characters roaming the streets (hey, Laurie Cabot!), Salem is a place like no other. So when it came time for me to plan a bewitching tablescape for an upcoming Halloween party, I thought about those cobbled streets and crumbling tombstones and channeled that mood into a dining table display.

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My first thoughts were that I wanted something just a little bit grim, but also very natural. As we all know, squash and pumpkins are obvious decor for the Halloween season so I was keen to find a faux pumpkin I could fix up to fit my somber setting. This cute little ceramic pumpkin perfectly fit the bill. There were actually several options at Goodwill that day that would have worked, but I went with this one because I liked its shape the best. Plus, the little lid lifts off so you can stash candy inside!

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The other thing I knew I wanted was a moon phase table runner. Maybe more than anything else, this really highlights the witchy vibe I get when visiting Salem. So the next stop on my Goodwill trip was, of course, the fabric section. The muslin fabric I found was only $2 for several yards! The simplicity of the cloth seemed ideal for the look I wanted and I couldn’t be happier with the way it took the fabric paint. Both of these projects are some of the easiest I’ve ever done, but they still make quite a statement! Here’s how you can make your own:

– TO MAKE THE PUMPKIN –

Materials:

  • Thrifted faux pumpkin
  • Spray paint in your color of choice
  • Adhesive letters
  • Washi tape
  • Drop cloth or similar
  • Soft tape measure (used for sewing)
  • Paint pen (optional)

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Step 1: Clean. Paint won’t stick well to a dirty surface, so wash your pumpkin with the correct method for the material it is made of. Mine was marked “dishwasher safe” on the bottom so I got to take the easy way out. For plastic pumpkins or something more delicate, you may need to wash it by hand or even just wipe it clean with alcohol wipes.

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Step 2: Paint! Take your pumpkin outside or to a well-ventilated area. With a drop cloth or newspaper beneath it to protect the surrounding space, paint the pumpkin according to the instructions on your paint. Lids can be a little difficult since you’ll probably want to paint the bottom edge if it’s still visible when the lid is on. I found that this trick with the empty water bottle (I cut off the top) worked really well. You could also paint the lid then flip it over and paint underneath. Just keep in mind that you don’t want to eat treats that have touched spray paint, so if you do paint any part of the inside you’ll probably want to use the jar only for wrapped candy.

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Step 3: Add text. After the paint has fully dried, choose your phrase and find the right layout. Use washi tape and your soft tape measure to plan where each letter will go. I cut my washi tape to the width of the text lines so I could justify the lettering then, starting at the top, pressed it lightly onto the pumpkin in a straight line to make sure my words didn’t get stuck on unevenly. Once the first line of text was in place, I peeled up the tape and moved it down for the next line. Since there’s no punctuation in the sticker pack I got, I used a paint pen to add the period.

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And that’s it for the pumpkin! Now, let’s figure out this table runner, shall we?

 

– TO MAKE THE RUNNER –

Materials

– Thrifted fabric

– Fabric paint

– Poster board, cardstock, or contact paper

– Yard stick or tape measure

– Marking tool

– Exacto knife

– Coarse paintbrush

– Scissors

– Painter’s tape (if using poster board or card stock)

– Something round to trace like a plate or lid

– Scrap cardboard

 

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Step 1: Wash your fabric. If it’s safe for the dryer, you’ll want to do that first, too, to get any shrinking out of the way.

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Step 2: Measure, mark, and cut the fabric. Lay it flat and choose the size and shape you want for your runner. Before you do this, decide whether you’d like to add any seam allowance. I left my edges raw because I wanted an aged and almost primitive look to my design. But, to make it last longer and look more crisp, you might choose to finish the edges.

 

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Step 3: Cut the fabric. I cut out notches on each end of the runner just for fun. To do this, I measured up a few inches from the end and found the center of the runner at that point. I made a little mark then used my straight edge to draw a line connecting each corner to that center mark, thus creating a triangle. Snip away the triangle from there and you’re good!

 

Step 4: Finish the edges (optional). If you’re planning to sew your edges, now’s the time. You could also finish them with Fray Check if you want to prevent fraying and still skip the sewing.

 

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Step 5: Create your stencils. If you’re using cardstock, plan for one moon on each page. If you’re using poster board or contact paper, you might want to create a little grid with evenly-spaced moons so you can move the phases around to play with the spacing between each once it’s laid out on the runner.

 

Step 6: Trace the full moon and two other phases onto the paper. The full moon is obviously just tracing once all the way around your circle. For the other two, trace most of the way around the moon then slide the plate/lid over slightly to one side and trace again on the same edge of the lid to connect the moon’s two points.

 

Step 7: Cut out the first three phases. With cardboard behind each phase, use the exacto knife to cut and extract the centers of each stencil.

 

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Step 8: Flip the two crescent phases and trace them on paper to create the last two stencil pieces. Cut these out.

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Step 9: Find the right placement of each phase on your runner and tape or pin them down. Place scrap cardboard behind each phase so the paint doesn’t bleed through to the work surface below.

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Step 10: Paint each phase! Use your paintbrush to dab paint onto the runner within each phase’s stencil. Make sure you’re dabbing straight down not brushing the paint on so it doesn’t leak under the paper. After you’re done, carefully remove the stencils and wait the appropriate dry time before using.

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Now your crafting is complete! If you shopped for Halloween supplies in our stores, then you have already joined Goodwill in giving back to your community. Of all the things on this table (besides the food, napkins, and paper plates), there are only three items on that aren’t thrifted. The silver serving tray was purchased during my most recent trip, specifically for this tablescape, alongside the fabric and pumpkin. The rest of the items have been collected in my visits over the last decade. That’s a whole lot of assistance I’ve contributed to my local community!

 

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While you’re out thrifting don’t forget candles! I always grab candles when I see them at Goodwill. They’re smart to have on hand for power outages plus they make the spookiest lighting you can imagine for a Halloween party. Oh, and they’re lovely during the holiday season as well. Am I getting a little ahead of myself? Sorry! I can’t help it. After all, you know what comes after Halloween… Until then, happy crafting, my thrifty friends!

Bring Good Home

By Liz Witzler, Marketing Director

Last Thursday, Goodwill Industries and the Ad Council launched an exciting new national campaign, “Bring Good Home,” to inspire more people to shop at Goodwill. Using humor, the cleverly crafted public service announcements illustrate how shopping at a Goodwill directly affects YOUR community by supporting our local job training and employment programs.

A lot of people don’t realize that Goodwill is made up of 161 independent local organizations across North America (with a presence in 13 other countries as well) that are all members of Goodwill Industries International. There are ten separate Goodwill organizations in Michigan alone. We are divided up geographically into designated territories … ours being West Michigan with 16 stores along the lakeshore from Manistee down to Holland. We have our own separate finances, board of directors, etc. and our programs and services vary depending on the needs of our respective communities. Bottom line is, that when you spend your dollars at your local Goodwill store those funds STAY local.

We are a charitable organization that largely funds its own mission through the sale of items that are generously donated from the community. The PSAs, created pro bono by global advertising and marketing agency Digitas, showcase the variety of unique finds available at Goodwill stores and celebrate YOU the shopper.

The campaign’s TV spot depicts Goodwill shoppers as “local heroes” by showing an entire town rallying around one indecisive shopper, encouraging her to make the purchase and erupting in celebration once she does.

The spot ends with, “When you bring home a Goodwill find, you give your whole town a reason to celebrate … because you’re also funding local job training and placement programs in tech, healthcare, and more.”

The new PSA video can be viewed here.

For more information about the programs and services Goodwill Industries of West Michigan offers, visit www.goodwillwm.org

#BringGoodHome

DIY Projects for the Perfect Summer Party

By Julia Marchand

It’s July, which means that it’s prime time for backyard parties. With longer hours of sunshine and soft breezes to offer relief from the heat (and from the bugs!), I find myself looking for an excuse to stay outside as long as possible. I’ve also recently found a few super fun DIY party projects that I am eager to try out. Who’s got a birthday coming up? I may need to throw you the perfect backyard summer fiesta.

Image via DesignImprovised.com

Before the big event, a little party prep is required. The menu will be set and the décor planned, but it’s the little extra touches – like presentation – that really set the tone. That’s why I love these embellished serving trays decorated by Haeley of Design Improvised (one of Goodwill Industries of San Antonio’s official bloggers!). With just a little paint, thrifted trays go from blah to BAM! and they don’t break the bank either.

Image via Blog.GoodwillSC.org

For a little celebration style, these easy party hats are a must. The template is available via Goodwill Industries of Upstate/Midlands South Carolina, and, of course, the faux flowers can be found in Goodwill stores! Even if your friends are just popping by after work, topping them with a cap like this will instantly transform them into party mode. You could even have guests make their own as an activity to keep hands busy while the conversation flows.

Image via StyleMePretty.com

What’s a party without gifts? You know how it works for a birthday or shower, but even a just-for-fun party can be amped up with favors. I am constantly seeing embroidery hoops at my local Goodwill stores, so when I spotted these DIY tambourines made from the hoops on Style Me Pretty I just loved the idea of trying it out for myself. I actually already have a whole bunch of lace that I found once while thrifting so it would be almost effortless for me to whip up some of these cuties to hand out to guests.

If all of this sounds great, but you’re looking for a reason to celebrate, how about this: Every 27 seconds of every business day, a person served by Goodwill earns a good job. Every 3 seconds, another person accesses Goodwill opportunities to build careers and strong families. So many people around the world are struggling to support their families so Goodwill’s successes are truly something to applaud. And you’re helping, too, just by shopping at their retail stores. Keep up the great work and make sure you enjoy the summer before it’s over!

 

Making the most of your summer

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 Goodwillakron.org

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!

Other by Indianapolis Furniture & Accessories Upholstery Club’s Shelly Leer. Image from Houzz.com.

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.

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!

Rainy day Goodwill haul + thrift tips

Happy spring! April showers might bring May flowers…but, in my world, rainy days also bring some fantastic Goodwill finds. When it’s pouring outside, one thing that always cheers me up is grabbing a cup of coffee, meeting a friend, then seeing what sunshine we can find inside my favorite thrift store.  Here’s a look at my latest spring-inspired haul along with some thrift shopping tips that will keep you from leaving the store disappointed.

Tip #1: Shop during or after a storm (as long as it’s safe to go out)! When the weather is rough, but stores are still open, staff is able to work swiftly to sort through donations and get them on the floor because they have fewer customers to assist. And because all the other shoppers are hunkering down at home, you get the pick of the litter as soon as new items hit the shelves! With so many rainy days in the spring, now’s the perfect time to take advantage of this tip. Go to Goodwill on a torrentially rainy day (not just light drizzles) for the best selection and least competition. Don’t worry if you forgot your umbrella! During my thrift haul today I found this classic umbrella that just had to come home with me. Its wooden handle makes it feel a little more special than a regular plastic one. Your local Goodwill might have some unique rain gear, too!

Tip #2: If you love something, buy it! Don’t talk yourself out of it just because you didn’t go shopping with that specific item in mind. Most seasoned thrift shoppers have a story or two about stumbling upon their favorite find at an unexpected time. That’s why I didn’t even hesitate when I saw this blazer. It’s not what I came in for, but blazers are so expensive brand-new that when I saw this one, I instantly tried it on. It’s perfect for my 9-5 job and it’s a fun layer to go over summer dresses so they can work for spring! I couldn’t even wait to get to the dressing room to make sure it fit.

Tip #3: When in doubt, put it in your cart. You can always put it back on the shelf if you change your mind before you leave the store. I was on the fence about these running pants at first, but I put them in my cart while I poked around the rest of the store anyway. Sometimes when I do this, I reassess at the end of the trip and feel comfortable leaving the item behind. But when I was done browsing this morning, I checked in with myself about these pants and felt confident that they were a great choice. At only $9 for brand-new, comfy jogging pants, they are just the motivation I needed to get moving with a new exercise routine this spring. Good thing I put them in my cart when I did—they were the only pair in my size!

Tip #4: Bring a sewing tape measure and know the sizes/colors of specific things you need. One item I had been searching for was a basket or bin that could fit into an empty nook in my bedroom for craft supply storage. When I have specific needs like this I make sure to keep measurements of the space I have to fill on my phone. I also bring along a sewing tape measure (it rolls up so tiny!) so I can check to see if items are the correct size right there in the store. You may also want to bring color swatches or pictures of a certain things you’re trying to match. If you shop prepared then you’ll never take something home that doesn’t fit or leave something behind that could have.

Tip #5: Shop in the middle of the week. Not only will the store be less crowded, but that also means that the good stuff hasn’t been snagged by someone else. This Goodwill haul adventure I’m sharing today took place on a Wednesday so I had plenty of time and space to browse around. Wandering along, I was shocked when I noticed this Soma water pitcher peeking out at me from the top shelf in the kitchen section. I have had this same exact pitcher on my Amazon wish list for months and here it was waiting for me at Goodwill for only $2 (it retails for $40). Would it still be there if I waited until Saturday to shop? Probably not!

Tip #6: Donate something every time you go. Not only does this keep your home from becoming too cluttered, it’s also good thrifting karma to give as you get. I’ve been looking for a colorful, light-weight bag to add to my wardrobe for a while and I feel like this one might have been waiting for me as a reward this time for clearing out some old bags on my last visit. I love the unique clasp and bright colors. It’s so perfect for spring!

Tip #7: Learn the discounts. What day of the week do things get marked down at your local Goodwill? What’s the color of the week? Do seniors or veterans receive a discount? These are quick questions to ask staff that can help you save money. Some Goodwill stores even offer you a discount coupon when you make a donation! Keeping the color of the week in mind, I was able to get this bright Old Navy sweater for half-off. I love the weight and fit of it. It’s so flattering and will take the edge off of cooler spring days while still feeling cheery thanks to its lively color.

Tip #8: Check the return racks outside of the dressing rooms. These racks are filled with items that have caught the eye of other shoppers so they’re always stuffed with great pieces. It’s almost like someone has pre-shopped for you, selecting the cutest of the cute to try on. When clothes don’t fit just right or the color doesn’t work for the other shopper the way they had hoped, where does it go? On the return rack! Fantastic finds like this flowy Lauren Conrad blouse will often be hiding there so don’t pass it by. I really think this might be my new favorite shirt. It’s a favorite color of mine and the gold buttons make it feel so fancy!

Tip #9: Shop out of season! Years ago, I never would have dreamt I’d be buying this wooden Christmas tree in March, but I’ve since learned the merit of shopping out of season. So even though it’s springtime now and I’ve got pastels and picnics on the brain, I couldn’t pass by this perfect little tree with its rustic charm. How cozy will this look in December nestled amongst evergreen boughs with stockings hung nearby?

So that’s my latest thrift haul! I’m so in love with all of my finds and even more impressed with Goodwill’s commitment to sustainability. Shopping secondhand, reusing items and do-it-yourself projects are all a great way to live a more sustainable lifestyle. It’s also more fun to find something unique at a Goodwill store and give it a second life.

What’s your sweetest Goodwill find?

by Rachael Kaminski, Internet Marketing and Events Coordinator

With today being Valentine’s Day, I wanted to share a little love for Goodwill. I’ve been a Goodwill shopper for quite some time now. My mom would take me shopping at the Grand Haven Goodwill store to pick out formal dresses for all my high school dances. She would spend months hand sewing thousands of beads onto the dress to make it one of a kind, unique, and absolutely perfect. My mother was quite the seamstress. She would take a bland dress and make it into work of art. I loved knowing that no one would have “my dress.” I never had to worry about having a fashion faux pas of who wore it best.

My most recent “sweetest” Goodwill find would be a mirror that I have above my mantle. I hate to pay full price for anything and with my love for crafting this was the perfect DIY project … and yes, it was project I did 100% by myself. I had to include that because DIY projects to many men means your wife coming home and saying “I saw this great idea on Pinterest,” ripping apart the house or pulling out every crafting supply and after a few hours of unsuccessfully “DIYing” calling out for help because your great idea turned into a “Pinterest fail.”

When I found this mirror, I knew it was a solid quality piece. The mirror was heavy, but the frame needed a little TLC. It looked like it had been a part of a vanity. There were four holes I filled with wall putty or spackle. Once it dried I sanded the frame down and used a chisel to chip away some of the wood to give the distressed appearance. I then painted the frame turquoise and further distressed it after it was painted. I think it turned out great!

The sweetest Goodwill find I have ever heard about was what Joyce Kinstner found 15 years ago at the Whitehall Goodwill store. She met her husband! I don’t know if there is a sweeter Goodwill find story. It just goes to show that you never know what you may find at Goodwill!

Do you have a sweetest Goodwill find you would like to share? Please post a photo of your treasure on our Facebook timeline and you’ll be entered for a chance to win a $35 Goodwill gift card! Share the love, but don’t hesitate! Today is the last day to participate in our contest. Happy Valentine’s Day!