Goodwill Industries and the American Dream

By Richard Carlson, President and CEO

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The central tenet of the American dream is that if you work hard, you will be able to support yourself and your family, save for retirement, and invest in your children’s future. First described by James Truslow Adams in his book “The Epic of America” in 1931, the American dream is “that dream of a land in which life should be better and richer and fuller for everyone, with opportunity for each according to ability or achievement.” He later said that “too many of us have grown weary and mistrustful of it. It is not a dream of motor cars and high wages merely, but a dream of social order in which each man and each woman shall be able to attain the fullest stature of which they are innately capable, and be recognized by others for what they are, regardless of the fortuitous circumstances of birth or position.”

Said another way, John D. Rockefeller Jr., expressed his philosophy of life in a statement of principles in 1941 entitled, “I Believe.”  Among his stated principles is this: “I believe in the dignity of labor, whether with head or hand; that the world owes no man a living but that it owes every man an opportunity to make a living.”

And from our own Goodwill Industries founder Dr. Edgar Helms who said, “Friends of Goodwill, be dissatisfied with your work until every handicapped and unfortunate person in your community has an opportunity to develop to their fullest usefulness and enjoy a maximum of abundant living.”

These are the truths I believe in. These are the truths that I first learned from my parents and grandparents. And these are the truths I discovered when I first joined Goodwill as a young social worker in 1976. It is work that adds dignity to one’s life. It is work that gives a family hope. It is a hard day’s work that builds character and a future. And it is our work that strengthens our communities. That is the mission of Goodwill … changing lives through the power of work. And we see that throughout the organization every day.

I have had the rare and wonderful opportunity to devote my life’s work and career to these same truths and to be part of an organization that truly believes in changing lives through the power of work. Over the course of my 40 years of service with Goodwill we have served more than 190,000 individuals and their families in West Michigan and have placed into competitive employment 21,000 people. At the end of the day, Goodwill has shaped me as much as it has been my honor to have been part of shaping Goodwill.

When I first started my career with Goodwill, I could not have imagined that this would become the dedicated journey that it has become. I am so very grateful to the immensely talented and committed team of employees and board members I have had the pleasure to work with over the years. I am also very aware that we could do nothing were it not for the courage and determination of those we have served who devoted themselves to finding a better life and their own piece of the American dream.

In the end, I will always be grateful for the decades of community support that Goodwill Industries has received. Without you and this remarkable community partnership, we would not be here today.

Ship your oversized donation (or Goodwill purchase) for free!

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Goodwill has partnered with Roadie to offer free pickup and delivery to-and-from Goodwill for new Roadie customers. Originally the offer was $20 off, but after the first week of the promotion that began Jan. 3, Roadie upped the ante to $62 (!!) … or the full cost of most local Goodwill pickup and deliveries.

To get started, visit; www.roadie.com To redeem your $62 discount, enter promo code GOODWILL.

Still Confused? Here’s a brief Q and A to help clarify things …

First of all, what the heck is Roadie?

Roadie is the first on-the-way delivery network. (Think Uber, only for your stuff!)

Roadie connects people who have items to send, with drivers heading in the right direction. Roadie’s model enables efficient, low-cost delivery for senders and rewards drivers for trips they were already taking. It’s quickly becoming the go-to delivery solution for large, out-of-the-box, or delicate items.

When Did Roadie Launch?

Roadie launched in the Southeast in January 2015, and became available in all 50 states in March 2015.

What types of items can I send?

You can send donations big and small, like furniture, appliances, clothing or household supplies. Goodwill cannot accept certain items, including CRT televisions or computer monitors, mattresses, cribs and other items due to the high cost of disposal and stringent government regulations.

For a full list of accepted items, visit www.roadie.com/Goodwill

How long will discounted shipping to/from Goodwill last?

The promotion will run from January 3 through February 28, 2017.

Will Roadie provide a receipt for donated goods?

Goodwill will send donors a receipt of donation within 60 days. You can also check the My Gigs tab in your Roadie account for a list of every Goodwill Gig you’ve sent through Roadie.

Why is Roadie partnering with Goodwill?

Roadie is proud to make it easier for people donate to Goodwill, give back to their communities, and help create jobs nationwide.

Those clothes you no longer wear, the antiques you no longer need, even furniture — anything you consider clutter could help Goodwill provide programs and services to help people find jobs.

DON’T BELIEVE FAKE NEWS this holiday season!

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Despite what your Aunt Sylvia shared on Facebook last week, it turns out that candy canes are NOT Christian symbols of red and white created to represent the blood and purity of Jesus, shaped in the letter “J” for Jesus. (Excellent creative storytelling though.)

It might also surprise you to learn that Fisher Price does NOT actually sell a toy called “Happy Hour Playset” for children with pretend bar, bar stools, and beer bottles! (Notwithstanding the impressive Photoshopped illustration.)

Likewise, Goodwill Industries is not “owned” by an evil CEO named Mark Curran (?) who makes $2.3 million (!) a year and “gives $0 to help anyone.”  Even the name Mark Curran is a total fabrication!

This notorious “Think Before You Donate” email rumor has been around for OVER A DECADE and its misinformation grows every year. This old chestnut rears its bogus ugly head each year around the giving season and our shoppers and donors are confused and outraged. It unfairly slanders and maligns not only Goodwill, but Unicef, the United Way, March of Dimes, and the American Red Cross as well.

Bogus stories — spread like wildfire through email and social media — hurt Goodwill and other nonprofits with their misinformation. Please, please, PLEASE … do not believe and share every phony thing you read on the Internet!

At Goodwill we DO encourage our donors to research and learn more about the charities they support. The good news is a wealth of factual information is available at your fingertips! Check out reputable database sites such as Charity Navigator, Guidestar, the Better Business Bureau, etc.

IT IS TRUE not all charities are alike so please do your homework. It might surprise you to know that some organizations operating thrift stores give as little as 5 percent of their overall revenue to charity. According to CharityWatch standards, a nonprofit should devote at least 60 percent or more of their revenue on their charitable programs, with the most highly efficient charities stretching that number to 75 percent or more. At Goodwill Industries of West Michigan, that percentage of efficiency is more than 90 percent.  That means more than 90 cents of every dollar we earn is spent on job-training programs and community-based services for people with disabilities and other disadvantages right here in West Michigan. Ninety percent is a very healthy number in the nonprofit world and a solid indicator of our commitment to the good stewardship of your donations. We have a 66-year track record of providing services that meet critical human service needs in our West Michigan community. We are consistently ranked among top charity watchdog groups as an organization that makes your donations go further so it’s so very frustrating and disheartening to have to combat these fabricated scurrilous postings year after year.

Oh, one more thing … that phone hotline direct from the North Pole where the real Santa answers your children’s calls? Sorry, that’s a fib too (http://www.snopes.com/santas-phone-number/).

Warm wishes to all for a happy holiday season. Thank you for shopping at and donating to Goodwill. You make our mission possible!

DO BELIEVE in the magic of the season … DON’T BELIEVE the lies.

Decorating for fall

By Rachael Crevier, Internet Marketing, and Events Coordinator

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With Thanksgiving just a few weeks away now is the time to update your home decor. If you’ve been reading any of my blogs you’ve probably noticed that I always say I’m on a budget and unfortunately in the last year and half that hasn’t changed. On the bright side, Goodwill has the most affordable home and holiday décor pieces to accentuate anyone’s style from shabby chic to modern, vintage to country, eclectic to nautical, and everything in between.

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Redecorate your kitchen by adding accents of warm fall tones like oranges, reds, burgandy, and greens.

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Goodwill is a great place to find unique décor for any room in your house.

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Texture adds a lot of character to interior design. Change up your look by adding some new candles, decorative jars or baskets. Don’t love the color but love the design? Spray paint works wonders.

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Check out this amazing piece of pottery! This one-of-a-kind piece of would be perfect on a mantle or coffee table.

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Faux flowers and plants may be intimidating but with a little inspiration, they can be transformed into a beautiful fall wreath your friends and family will envy!

Check out this tutorial by Good House Keeping. Deck your door with a maple wreath. You can quickly DIY this cute piece with branches from your yard or faux leaves from Goodwill. http://www.goodhousekeeping.com/home/craft-ideas/how-to/a25869/maple-wreath-diy/

Decorating your home for fall is a fun, creative, and cost-effective project for you and your family to enjoy. Check out your local Goodwill – you never know what you may find!

For more DIY home and holiday décor inspiration visit our Pinterest page: https://www.pinterest.com/goodwillwm/

Goodwill = Your Halloween Headquarters

By Marlene Prowant, Retail District Managergoodwill-3

I‘m really excited about our new selection of Halloween merchandise we recently stocked in all of our retail locations! New this year is 70s-era merchandise. We’ve got everything to transform you back in time … from peace-loving hippies to disco queens.

We also have makeup and face art, hats, wigs, capes, tutus, tiaras, fangs, masks, glasses, colored hair spray,  and more … to help create or complete any costume you desire!

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If you need help in selecting your costume, we have staff that can help you create a one-of-a-kind costume or you can select from our new costumes starting at $9.95 or we have a large selection of donated costumes for $3.99 and up. From the scary to the cute, we can help with all of your costume needs.

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We also have your decorating needs covered. We have tableware to home décor to prepare for those Halloween parties. Something new this year is window decorating kits from Wow Windows. These easy to install window posters are back-lit using the lighting from your inside lights.  An easy, fun way to transform your home and “wow” your neighbors and trick or treaters.

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If you are looking to add creativity to your baking this Halloween season we have Wilton baking supplies and treat bags. While shopping, do not forget about pumpkin carving; we having carving kits starting at $1.95.

Come shop Goodwill Halloween Headquarters this year, we are ready to assist you at all of our 16 locations!  Shop early for the best selections.

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Don’t forget to add your costume creation to our Facebook page for your chance to win great prizes! For complete details see our event page.

Let kids define their style (and save $)

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This school year, let your kids define their own unique style and use shopping at Goodwill as a teaching moment to guide them toward positive ways to help others, help the environment, and help you save money!

What’s hot this year? The 90s are making a comeback and our stores are chock-full of denim, plaids, and sneakers perfect for any style. Give your kids’ fall wardrobe that extra pop with a new backpack and lunch box in their favorite characters. And don’t forget about décor for their locker, you could score a funky mirror, some magnets, and even some organizers to help keep them on point and on time!

In addition, our online store, Shopgoodwill.com, has many other items your kids may need, like graphing calculators, computers, musical instruments, and much more.

Our vast, budget-friendly selection spans over 16 stores and is refreshed on a daily basis.

When you and your kids shop at or donate to, Goodwill, you help keep items out of landfills, as well as help people find jobs. Goodwill sells donations in its stores to help fund programs that help people build their careers, earn paychecks and care for their families. More than 5,431 people along the lakeshore are working with assistance from Goodwill Industries of West Michigan in 2015 alone.Shop smart, shop Goodwill!

Shop smart, shop Goodwill!

Brass to class

By Rachael Crevier, Internet Marketing and Event Coordinator

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I’ll admit it. I’m extremely impatient and it often bites me in the butt. I will explain in a moment.

Sometimes I just get a “feeling” that I have to go Goodwill shopping. If you’re an avid thrift shopper you know what I’m talking about.

That’s how I SCORED this perfect set of lamps for a DIY makeover! I popped into the Roosevelt Park store in Muskegon and lo and behold, I was in the right place at the right time. I found these heavy-duty brass lamps for $6 each! I wasn’t in love with the color, even though brass is trendy again, but I loved the price and the quality.

So I took them home, wiped them down a little bit, removed the price tag and covered the light socket with a plastic bag and masking tape.

I laid out some plastic in the yard and went to town with my Black Satin Rust-Oleum spray paint. The color was great but it wasn’t covering very well as I hope. The rounded section in the middle of the lamp was a little spotty. So I let that layer dry and searched through Pinterest for some clarity. Like I said in the beginning, I’m extremely impatient and I was just so excited I didn’t even think to use a primer first. This is where I went wrong. SO to all you thrift shoppers out there, MAKE SURE YOU USE A PRIMER FIRST. If you want step-by-step instructions and pictures on how to spray paint a brass lamp, check out Jennifer Stagg’s blog withHeart she’s got it all laid out for you! I was too impatient which resulted in me doing multiple coats to achieve the desired look.

Even without using a primer the lamps turned out wonderful! I found two matching shades to complete the look at the Whitehall Goodwill. I can’t even believe how lucky I got, matching lamps and shades!

They really helped tie together all our décor. I love finding high-quality, low prices items for my home. Half the fun is finding the item and the other half is transforming it into something that really complements your style.