Don’t let gossip guide your charitable giving

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By Kim Harsch, Resource Development Coordinator

It’s the most wonderful time of the year. A time for family gatherings, warm fires, showering those we love with gifts, for cold noses and hot chocolate, and …spreading false rumors about charitable organizations? Yes, it happens each year around the holidays: negative falsehoods that spread like a California wildfire throughout social media. These rumors are designed to cover well-known nonprofits in a cloud of doubt and suspicion. Mostly, however, copied negative memes draw the focus away from those in need and reflect much more poorly on the person posting them then they do on the organization.

Why? If you post something that is not true, you admit to the general masses that you do not take the time to verify the truth and therefore WANT TO BE A NEGATIVE GOSSIPER. Yes, I said it. You want to gossip. Sorry, I know that isn’t a very Christmassy thing to say but even your elf on the shelf wouldn’t hit “post” without verifying the accuracy of such damaging information.

Bad holiday humor aside, these lies are damaging. Let me give you an example. You may have noticed on social media, the so-called “Think Before You Donate” viral rumor has been circulating. I know it’s popped up on my Facebook feed and has even been shared by a few of my friends. Here is an image of the actual meme:

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This gets shared and shared every year and every year I tell my friends again that this information is false and I give them links to properly research the information. To set the record straight on this particular rumor about Goodwill, an organization I hold so dear, no person named Mark Curran has ever been a CEO at Goodwill Industries and no one in the organization earns the $2.3 million in compensation mentioned in the rumor! Also, Goodwill is not owned by any individual, but in fact is a network of 161 community-based, autonomous nonprofit 501(c)3 organizations. The one that I work for, Goodwill Industries of West Michigan, is headquartered in Muskegon with a service territory encompassing, all or portions of, 12 surrounding counties.

All of this factual information is easily available on Goodwill’s website at http://www.goodwillwm.org. It is also verifiable through www.guidestar.org, a third party nonprofit dedicated to researching and rating charitable organizations according to their financial transparency and mission delivery. On Guidestar, you can look at each nonprofit’s actual 990 tax forms to see their revenue sources and how they are spending it. It’s an invaluable resource if you wish to make charitable donations. And it is easily accessible by anyone on the internet.

As a strong believer in Goodwill’s mission as well as an employee of Goodwill, it is incredibly frustrating and disheartening to have to combat this bogus information year after year. Time and money we spend trying to educate misinformed people only detracts from our mission.

I know most of you are aware of the positive impact our organization has on the West Michigan community. Through the revenue generated by your generous donations of household items and monetary contributions, we offer vital employment placement, job training, and support services to members of our community, including people with disabilities, ex-offenders, displaced workers, and more.

My friends who have unknowingly circulated these lies believe in helping our community and they are not thinking about the nearly 5,000 people in West Michigan our Goodwill helps each year. But those are the people affected if donations drop – not some fictitious person named Mark Curran. Remember, as a leader in our community, your voice matters. If you see the “Think Before You Donate” rumor circulating in your social networks, I hope you’ll join us in stopping negative gossip and correcting the information head on. And I hope that you will continue to help us change lives through the power of work by not letting fake news dissuade you from giving! http://bit.ly/2AGyvEe

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Diversity and inclusion matters

By Kristin Garris, Organizational Development Director

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This past week, many of our Goodwill employees had the opportunity to see and hear Dr. Joy DeGruy speak to a sold-out crowd at the Frauenthal Theater in downtown Muskegon. Dr. Joy DeGruy is a renowned researcher, educator, author, and presenter who has made it her life work to be an ambassador for healing around the issues of race relations, cultural differences, and contemporary social issues.

Dr. Joy’s message rallied deep emotions as she led the audience through a historical recollection of African American culture, white privilege, and the ongoing trauma that continues in our society today. As a white female, I lean into these discussions eager to know more, but acknowledge that my perspective offers only a small glimpse into the struggles of a society that has much to learn about equality and justice. Through Dr. Joy’s teaching, personal work around understanding and acceptance, and through the efforts of Goodwill’s diversity and inclusion activities, I am hopeful that together our organization can grow, learn, and better support the communities we serve.

Goodwill Industries of West Michigan is located in the heart of Muskegon. In a city where over one third of the population is African American, 8% is Hispanic, and 5% is more than two races, we are working to better understand our diverse community so that we may serve them well. In early 2018, our organization formed the Goodwill Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee. This committee — diverse in thought, race, culture, and background — has been doing some hard work around improving our understanding of implicit bias, race relations, the importance of relationships, and the powerful act of simply tilting towards love and understanding in all that we do. Our work has already started to make an impact in policy administration and (slow and steady) cultural shifts. To support our efforts further, we recently hired Julian Newman, a diversity, equity, and inclusion consultant, to help us navigate the waters together through thoughtful discussion, internal examination, and eventually institutional saturation.

Julian Newman,As we pursue Goodwill’s mission of providing work opportunities, skill development, and family strengthening to the communities we serve, we seek first and foremost to better understand those communities. Our journey will not be a short one, but we are committed to the continued learning and understanding required to positively impact the community we love.

Empowering ALL

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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.

Salem-Inspired Spooky Tablescape

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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!