Goodwill’s COVID-19 Response Plan

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Dear Friends:
These are unprecedented times. After much consideration and review of the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on our organization, we have developed the following response plan:

Retail stores temporary closure

Out of an abundance of caution and commitment to the health and well-being of our employees, donors, shoppers, program participants, and the community at large, we are temporarily closing our retail stores effective March 18 and will remain closed through April 5.

This has been a difficult decision, however, we are following the advice of public health officials to help stop the spread of the coronavirus as it enters our West Michigan community.

E-commerce remains open

Our e-commerce department will remain open and with no interruption to online sales. Visit us at http://www.shopgoodwill.com and http://www.ebay.com/usr/goodwillindustries_wm

Donation drive-thrus remain open

The majority of our donation drive-thrus (all but four*) will remain open, staffed, and accepting of community donations Monday through Sunday from 10 am to 6 pm.
To protect our employees and ensure that our product is safe, donations will be quarantined for a minimum of 72 hours prior to staff sorting and pricing.

Goodwill Career Center limited services

The Goodwill Career Center at 271 E. Apple Avenue has temporarily suspended face-to-face services at this site. Goodwill staff are available for consultation assistance via phone at (231) 722-7871.

Tax preparation service reduction

Due to site closures and reduced staff, Goodwill’s Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program will suspend some of its services beginning March 23 until further notice. Clients with appointments are being contacted individually. For more information call the VITA hotline at (231) 722-8482, ext. 8482 or email vitataxes@goodwillwm.org

GoodTemps temporary staffing services

GoodTemps continues to service its business customers and place workers. Job seekers can apply online at http://www.goodtempsmi.com

Industrial and Janitorial Services continue

Our industrial and janitorial B2B lines continue to service and honor their contracts with local businesses.

Achievers of the Year luncheon

Our tenth-annual community celebration event originally scheduled for May 6 has been postponed to a future date to be determined.

We are all in this together!

At a safe and appropriate time, we will resume our normal activities and work together to rebuild stronger, more resilient communities.

We will continue to share more information on our website at http://www.goodwillwm.org and social media channels. We ask for your understanding and patience. Stay safe and healthy!

*Donation drive-thrus that will be temporarily closed: Coopersville, Zeeland, Holland-Washington Ave., and Muskegon-Sherman Blvd. All 14 other locations remain OPEN.

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Jeanette Hoyer
President and CEO, Goodwill Industries of West Michigan

Head back-to-school with Goodwill!

By Rachael Kaminski

Okay, parents and students—we’re in the homestretch now for the back-to-school season. As far as snapping up the coolest styles and other accessories it’s now or never! Don’t let yourself get dragged into stores with long lines and high prices. Come to Goodwill instead! You’ll be able to cross every item off of your shopping list (from dorm-worthy dishes to kindergarten kicks) all in one place while at the same time bringing job opportunities into your neighborhood.

pexels-photo-225017Shopping with little ones can seem so impossible at times, but bringing them along for the ride is also the only way you can be really sure about the fit of your finds for them. So what do you do when the countdown to the first day of school is in single digits and you still don’t have what you need?

Read these super helpful tips for thrifting for your back-to-school needs from Amiyrah of the blog Four Hats & Frugal!

She’s got some bold tricks up her sleeve that will help you survive the season, kids in tow. My favorite is to give each kiddo their own cash to shop with. This will help them learn to budget and take charge of their own style. What better way to warm up their brains for school-thinking after months of summer fun? Even the littlest kids can help with this! Read her helpful back-to-school shopping tips here.

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Middle school and junior high shopping brings its own unique set of problems. Teens will probably want to pour their whole back-to-school budget into fashion pieces. But don’t let them skip the organizational elements that will streamline life between classes. 

 I’m talking about little hanging baskets, pint-sized mirrors, and other tiny items to keep their locker tidy and useful. While rushing through the hall, your student would be able to quickly swing in to swap out books, grab a new pencil, hair elastic, or calculator without having to dig around for them all. Then, with a quick peek in their hanging mirror, they’re off to their next class before the bell rings. Scope out your local Goodwill for little baskets, bins, and locker accessories like this then grab some strong magnetic hooks to keep them in place.

Check out these DIY videos on how to make your own back-to-school locker organizer, dry erase or corkboardneon shoes and much more!

Once college rolls around, the priorities and shopping needs for students change once again. And yet, Goodwill can still help. From stocking your dorm room to the off-campus apartment, Goodwill will be your best friend. Cost-effective, brand new and gently loved items will help fill your kitchen, bedroom, bathroom, and living room with function and fun pieces. From pots, and pans to lamps, dressers, couches, and the best part decor! 

Check out this blog about a DIY Lamp Makeover I completed a few years ago, it’s still one of my favorites!

Goodwill can help you find much more than just back-to-school and dorm room supplies! We have part-time job opportunities and volunteer experience that can help build your resume while still going to class. We’re looking for fun, energetic part-time retail employees the help on nights and weekends. It’s the perfect opportunity to earn a little spending money! Interested? Apply online today.

Looking for volunteer, internship and work experience opportunities? Our Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program is ideal for those college students. Read all about Brett’s experience as a student volunteer tax preparer. Not only did he receive a $500 stipend he also got hired right after graduation! Interested in volunteering? Call Brett at (231) 722-7871 x 1073. 

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VITA Volunteer: Brett

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By Jasam “Brett” Layne-Roy, Goodwill Tax Program Coordinator

My name is Jasam Brett Layne-Roy, I was a student volunteer tax preparer for the VITA program this past year and it was an amazing experience. I was able to make an impact in my own community, fulfill my work experience requirements at Baker College, and was able to apply my current coursework directly in my daily tasks.

I was put in touch with Carl and the VITA program near the end of last year. I had been searching for a job for several weeks thinking I would capitalize on the tax season but most places either had full classes for training or they had no open positions. I went to Baker College to speak with someone to help me find something to fulfill my work experience credit and ended up speaking with one of the program directors who told me about this volunteer program that provided tax preparation assistance. She had also thought there was a stipend of some kind so it wouldn’t be completely unpaid.

The volunteer work alone was incredibly rewarding but the additional assistance that the stipend afforded was just what I needed. I was able to cover most of my book costs with that stipend…which was the bare minimum that I was going for at the time. That allowed me to focus on volunteer work and not need an additional job that wouldn’t further my career or impact my home life or coursework. The stipend helped me to recruit more students that wanted to volunteer and needed some additional support for their school costs. In addition to the added benefit of the work experience and the stipend, volunteering with the VITA program has given me a few new opportunities in potential scholarship funding as some requirements for scholarships include of performing community service.

Over the summer months and throughout the fall, we will be recruiting volunteers for the VITA program for the next tax season. We are looking for individuals that can volunteer around 10 hours per month to aid in our recruitment drives by attending brainstorming meetings, setting up and run a table or booth at a local event, and spreading awareness about the VITA program! We will need your assistance from July through October, and hopefully again when the new tax season hits early next year. If you are interested, please call me at (231) 722-7871 x 1073

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New tax season= New options

By Carl Lewis, Tax Preparation Coordinator

Another tax season is rapidly approaching and we are gearing up to serve the community. Each year it is a challenge to serve the increasing demand, but it’s also a very rewarding experience to be a part of an effort that positively impacts so many people and families in West Michigan.

Last year, our dedicated Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) volunteers filed nearly 3,000 federal and state tax returns, and returned more than $3 million to the community!

Recruiting VITA volunteers continues to be a challenge. This year, thanks to a generous grant from the Community Foundation for Muskegon County, we were able to offer eligible college students – many studying finance or accounting – a $500 stipend each for their efforts. Thanks to some helpful collaborative professors at MCC and Baker, we were able to recruit 15 new volunteers through this initiative.

All of our tax preparers must be thoroughly trained and pass an IRS certification test. It has been a pleasure to train and share my experience with others. Knowing how to do taxes is a valuable life-long skill!

Also new this year is a “drop and go” full-service option. Filers meet with an intake specialist to deliver necessary documents and pick up their completed returns a week later. This eliminates wait time and gives volunteers more flexible work hours and an opportunity to work at their own pace.

Helping people with their taxes also presents opportunities for us to help and advise people on their overall financial wellness. Goodwill’s MoneyWorks financial services can help people achieve their financial goals, such as owning their own home or getting out of debt.

If you are interested in volunteering, please contact me at (231) 722-7871, ext.1071 clewis@goodwillwm.org

For more information on VITA, including a list of tax site locations and hours, visit www.vitawestmichigan.org

Your change changes lives

By Kim Harsch, Resource Development Coordinator

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I love my job at Goodwill because of you – Goodwill donors and shoppers. Because of you, I get to meet people whose lives are forever changed by Goodwill’s mission – to provide work opportunities, skill development, and family strengthening resources in all communities we serve.

This mission is funded in large part by your purchases and donated goods. Another way you help fund programs for people in our community, is through our “RoundUp” program. “RoundUp” means if your Goodwill store purchase is $10.50, you can opt to “round up” to an even $11.00 and that extra 50 cents goes directly to support Goodwill’s services, listed here. If you choose not to, that’s okay too and we sincerely thank you for your business!

So why do we do this? Not all of our programs and services are self-supported through our business enterprises and need a little extra help.

Your spare change adds up to thousands of dollars each year, and 100% of these funds go to help someone in your community get back on their feet. Last month your RoundUp change helped Adam move his family from dire living conditions to safety. He was able to receive the financial coaching he needed free at Goodwill so that he could afford a home for his young family. Your change changed Adam’s life. Read Adam’s story here.

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If you always RoundUp – thank you! If you haven’t, please consider it next time you shop at Goodwill. Thank you again for positively “changing” lives!

 

Opportunity knocks … but sometimes it rolls

By Amanda Grover, Career Supports Manager

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One thing that can be consistently changing is a person’s financial situation. Managing your money, planning for the future, and identifying resources is incredibly daunting. Money doesn’t need to be a taboo subject; and I personally have found incredible value in financially planning ahead for emergencies and reaching longer term goals. There was nothing more fulfilling than paying off my first car loan.

Luckily, there are resources available right here in our community and it’s exciting to be a part of the Fifth-Third Financial Empowerment “eBus” event here at the Goodwill Career Center on Wednesday, July 26 from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. Everyone’s invited!

This 40-foot bus is a mobile classroom equipped with workstations and friendly Fifth Third Bank staff ready to connect people with the financial tools they need. After traveling to many communities throughout the country, the Fifth Third eBus staff have a strong understanding of what individuals need and want from banks and financial institutions.

Just inside the Career Center, we will be hosting a Goodwill Financial Fair. There will be other community partner organizations on site to share vocational and education programs, and to help identify ways to increase income through employment. There will also be programs to help people with goals and issues related to home ownership and housing. Additionally, for those looking for more immediate employment, GoodTemps Staffing will be conducting open job interviews.

I’ve had lots of people come to me with great stories that have been a result of attending previous financial events. Personal stories such as gaining access to a bank account for the first time (in some cases after being repeatedly denied), enrolling in vocational programs that have increased their income, learning that earning a degree or owning their own home is possible, overcoming difficult debt struggles, and more … prove these events can be life changing.

It’s exciting to work with so many community partners and to see support from organizations all working to help people achieve their personal goals. Come join us and tell anyone you know who could benefit from these services!

The Goodwill Career Center is located at 271 East Apple Avenue in Muskegon. We are around the corner from Goodwill Headquarters. The entrance and parking lot are located off of Sophia Street.

Gearing up for tax season

By Carl Lewis, Tax Program Coordinator

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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.