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DIY Festive Candlesticks project

Festive candlesticks can add a bright pop of color to your holiday décor – perfect for the winter season or any time of the year! With some simple, thrifted pieces and a couple of paint colors, you can achieve this fun look.

Supplies needed:

  • Thrifted candlesticks in a variety of shapes and sizes
  • Multiple colors of paint (We used spray paint but other craft paints can work.)

Step 1: For this project, we thrifted a variety of candlesticks in all shapes and sizes. Remove any extra pieces of decor or melted wax. Then, clean and prep them according to the directions on your paint.

Step 2: Determine which colors you will paint each candlestick and begin painting. If you are using spray paint, make sure to paint in a well-ventilated area.

Step 3: Allow paint to fully dry and add in your candles.

Mixing and matching a variety of colors to fit your holiday theme or home decor will help to illuminate your space. Add in plain white candles to tie them all together.

Whether you love thrifting for the thrill of the hunt, to feel good about helping others or to help keep items out of the landfills, you’ll find 1,000s of new items daily.

Tips to keep holiday spending in check

By Teri Horner

Do you feel pressured to make the holidays perfect or think you can’t get through them without spending a fortune?

It can be easy to go overboard on holiday shopping, but with a little bit of planning and budgeting, it is possible to celebrate without spending all of your cash or maxing out your credit cards.

When it comes to holiday gift giving, more is not better. It’s just more. According to the National Retail Federation, the largest portion of a consumer’s holiday budget goes toward gifts for family members, with the average person spending an average of $403 in this category. That’s a lot of Legos and Barbie dolls.

According to Mint: Holiday Survey 2020, 10% of Americans budget for gifts based on how much the recipient spends on them.

With the events of 2020, many have experienced unexpected changes in employment, income and even health, so having a holiday budget is top of mind.

Goodwill NCW’s Financial and Debt Solutions Services is offering a free workshop on holiday spending from 6 to 7 p.m. Oct. 19. Learn how to reduce stress and have a great holiday season without overspending. Register here.

With long wish lists and lines to checkout, how can we keep holiday gift-giving simple? The steps are, well, simple. Use these practical tips to ensure you stay on budget for the new year, rather than getting wrapped up and weighed down in holiday spending.

Set holiday spending limits. Give your credit cards the holiday off and limit what you buy to what safely can come out of your bank account or Christmas club account. We’re not talking about using money needed to pay bills but the money you normally would spend on lattes. Be realistic about what you are willing to do without.

Make your naughty or nice list. Only purchase presents for family and very close friends, focusing on children. Others on your list could get homemade cookies or candy in a decorated tin or bag. If your budget is tight, you can do this for family as well. You are still spreading the cheer.

Be realistic. Do not try to keep up with the Jones. When money is tight in my house we each purchase a nongender-specific gift and put them a pile. Each person who brought a gift then takes a gift. Participation is voluntary, and this way no one is pressured into spending if they do not have the money.

Give the gift of time. For my grandchildren, I focus on making them coupons such as dinner with Grandma or movie night. While these items can still cost money, it is not all at once and can be spread out over time. Presence typically don’t cost as much as presents and are more meaningful.

Provide personalized gifts. A small, thoughtful gift is worth more than an expensive gift that someone may never use. I remember a time as a child when my grandmother went to a trunk she had in her bedroom and pulled out several items she had received as gifts. Attached to each one was a note that had the name of the person who gave the item to her. She then would wrap it and regift it to someone else. This still brings a smile to my face.

About the author: Teri Horner is the Leader of Counseling Service with Goodwill NCW’s Financial and Debt Solutions Services. For more on the program and how it can help you gain financial freedom, visit

Gambling addiction leads mom of two to Payment Partner

“When I was in my early 20s I discovered I had a gambling problem,” 39-year-old Anna Angell of Fond du Lac said.

With two small children and living paycheck to paycheck, struggling with creditors and facing surmounting debt, Anna found the resource and help she needed when she was referred through her employer to Payment Partner, a program of Goodwill NCW that helps eligible participants pay their monthly expenses and manage their money. The program provides representative payee and bill-paying services to people of all ages who receive Social Security benefits, veterans’ benefits or pensions and those who work and receive paychecks and find themselves unable to manage their finances.

“I was scaring myself,” said Anna, who knew if she had money in her hands she would end up in a casino. “I just didn’t trust myself to have my paycheck in my hands. I wanted to protect myself from myself.

“It was almost at an emergency point, and I knew if I had that money in my hands, if I had a weak moment I would blow it.”

Through Payment Partner, she received a weekly stipend that was enough to live on, but she didn’t have full access to her paycheck. While it was an adjustment to give up power over her finances, Anna quickly found the convenience factor of not having to worry about paying bills to be well worthwhile. She knew they would get paid and paid on time, and creditors were more willing to work with Payment Partner.

“It is such a freeing feeling to know that that stuff is being taken care of. Watching your debt going down is amazing.”

She began to build up her savings and learn how to live on a budget, and those successes only motivated her to keep going and do more.

“Once you see that little bit of progress, it gives you the drive to work harder,” Anna said. “It did retrain my brain to not impulse purchase.”

“Anna has been great to work with as she was very involved in the process even though we received her full paycheck,” said Carmen LeMaster, Payment Partner Team Leader. “Eventually we did work together for her to take over some of her debt as we have done with other clients. We are super proud of her efforts and getting help when she needed it.”

After time, what once was a necessity for her financial future morphed into a convenience as Anna became savvier with saving and budgeting. As someone with a stressful, professional career who travels frequently for work, the bill-paying service became a tool that allowed her to focus on other priorities and provided peace of mind.

“It went from me saving me from me to a big convenience,” she said.

After about 10 years with Payment Partner, Anna recently decided that she was ready to take back her finances and started paying her own bills, but this time without any debt and with a sense of confidence and safety nets in place.

But she wants others to know that there are options available for people who are struggling with gambling.

“Gambling is a very real thing,” Anna said. “Don’t be ashamed of doing something for yourself.

“It’s an absolute addiction. This is a very good way to get it under control. Until you can get the help you need and discover what triggers those moments of weakness, this covers you financially.”

Anna knows firsthand what it feels like to be desperate and scared and trapped in a never-ending cycle of chasing your losses, and throughout her experience she not only has gained a sense of financial stability but humility and an understanding of how important it is not to judge others.

“I didn’t destroy myself,” she said.

Anna, who no longer lives paycheck to paycheck and doesn’t feel as vulnerable as she used to, has people to call when she’s having a weak moment and encourages others not to be afraid to ask for help.

“You have to do what’s right for you. This is your future, and you have to take control of it.”

Payment Partner helps teen get control of finances

A Goodwill NCW program helped a teenager struggling with money become a young adult with financial freedom.

As a then 17-year-old moving out on his own in an apartment through Agape of Appleton, Josh Fry was referred to Payment Partner, a program of Goodwill NCW that helps eligible participants pay their monthly expenses and manage their money. The program provides representative payee and bill-paying services to people of all ages who receive Social Security benefits, veterans’ benefits or pensions and those who work and receive paychecks, and who find themselves unable to manage their finances.

Before starting with the program and receiving Social Security, Josh said he had a summer job cutting grass and earned about $1,300 in three months.

“I was a young kid who was going through a growth spurt, so I spent a lot of money on food. I maybe saved 30 bucks.”

He then began working with Payment Partner and receiving payee services and a spending money allotment.

At first, he struggled with using his money wisely, said Carmen LeMaster, Payment Partner Team Leader.

“When I started with Payment Partner, I got my $15 spending check every week,” the now 22-year-old from Kimberly said. “When I started with them, I was blowing the $15 in the first day.”

The program gradually taught him to how to create a budget and how to follow one. Now, Josh handles his finances on his own, makes on-time credit card payments and holds a positive credit score with the lessons he learned from Payment Partner. He graduated from the program when he was 21.

“Once he started to be more consistent in his spending, gradually I would let him take responsibility for one bill at a time to see how he would do with that responsibility,” Carmen said. “First it started with him paying for his cellphone, newspaper knowing that we would be responsible for his shelter. We had everything written down in his budget, including his soda money, laundry money and even vitamins. As time went on we gave him the chance to pay his rent on his own. It worked, and he was feeling successful that he didn’t need our help. We sat down for a complete review of things he needed to watch for, like insurance that is not come due every month. He applied to Social Security Administration to receive his own funds and in July 2019 he started it all on his own.”

“It has helped me so much,” Josh said.

“When I go grocery shopping, I know what I need and what I can get, and I have my finances in my head, and I know what I can’t afford that week.”

Josh continues to check in regularly and checks in regularly to provide updates.

“This month he reached out to see if we could go over the budget he has been using and if there was anything I would change for him,” Carmen said. “I was really glad to see him and saw how successful he has been, and it made us really proud of him as a team.”

Payment Partner has taught him not only the importance of budgeting but saving.

Josh, who works part time at Sam’s Club, has set new goals for himself. He wants to be out of Agape in the next five years and living on his own 100%.

He appreciates Payment Partner and the lessons learned for getting him to where he is today.

“The whole team was amazing,” Josh said. “I can’t say enough about them.”

Click here for more on Payment Partner.

Team member has place to live, with help from Goodwill NCW program

Sarah, a team member at the Lake Hallie Retail Store and Training Center, can sleep easier knowing she and her 4-year-old daughter are home, thanks to the Goodwill NCW Career Navigator program.

Sarah and her daughter moved into their two-bedroom apartment on June 1, capping off a nearly six-month process that started tumultuously with her losing her housing and struggling to find a place to live to getting the help she needed, researching low-income housing options, filling out applications, waiting for approval, signing the lease and ultimately moving in.

Sarah and her daughter at their apartment.

It’s a dream come true that was realized because of Hoi VanDong’s relentless pursuit of securing a single mom a place to live while living out Goodwill NCW’s value of a Care for People and not stopping until they were successful. Hoi, who is a Career Navigator, supports team members at the Lake Hallie and Rice Lake locations.

“It’s been very much a privilege,” Hoi said, adding that it’s important to take the time to acknowledge team member’s struggles, listen and help fix them or lighten the load. It shows team members they are valued as people.

“It’s part of my role. It’s simply a drive to help people and meet their needs.”

Hoi VanDong

For Sarah, having a place to call her own has removed an immense amount of stress from her life and provides more stability for her daughter. “It’s nice to have my own place rather than wondering where we’re going to be.”

In late 2020, Sarah’s relationship with her then boyfriend ended, and he told her that she and her daughter would have until the end of February to move out, forcing Sarah to move in temporarily with a friend who lives 45 minutes away from work and to rent a storage unit for her belongings.

“I know that this whole situation has been putting a lot of stress on her mentally, physically and emotionally,” a team leader said when referring Sarah to Hoi for assistance.

Sarah said she kept her emotions bottled up as long as she could so she could do her work, but, “One day I just broke down.”

She needed a hand and found a helping one with Hoi, who assisted in gathering documents, researching options, making phone calls, completing applications and supporting Sarah.

“He helped look at other avenues that I didn’t even know existed on top of what my mom showed me,” she said.

“If you want people to be at their best in terms of workers, it would be difficult for them to be their best if they lack basic needs,” Hoi said.

Knowing that Sarah lacked a basic need and that a child was involved, Hoi said he mentally imagined himself in her situation and understood how overwhelming she felt.

“As I helped coach and guide Sarah through the process, it created more of a sense of urgency to help meet that need. It’s kind of a helpless feeling that I don’t like. You can’t fix it for her immediately. There was so much waiting.”

For her part, Sarah feels supported and appreciates that when she’s not herself at work, people will pull her aside and ask. As for her apartment, “It’s slowly coming together.”

She’s just happy to be home.

Team member with visual impairments part of success in Antigo

As a team member with visual impairments, James Randel relies on his other senses to help him do the work.

James, who said he is 100% blind, was hired in May as a part-time team member at the Antigo Retail Store and Training Center after starting with Goodwill NCW as a program participant through North Central Health Care. His temporary work experience was funded through the Wisconsin Division of Vocational Rehabilitation.

“When I first started, I was nervous with how this was going to go,” he said. “Now that the barriers are eliminated, I’m not scared to try a new task.”

James has been successful working in the production area as a ticketer. He also works in salvage and cleans carts and changing rooms.

“It’s pretty laidback. They keep me busy. I like the people. It’s just a friendly environment. I try to give everything I can — 110%.”

Brian Pond, Goodwill NCW Manager of Business and Partnerships Development, said James brings a positive attitude to the store and is willing to try anything he is asked to do. “I am super excited that he is now part of our team.”

“James is great. We love him here,” Production Team Leader Vicki Maclure said. “He works hard and when something comes up we can work with him to figure out the best way to solve it.”

Balancing work with going to college for business, James hopes to become a store leader after graduation.

Work experience program leads to employment for new Rhinelander team member

When Daniel joined the Rhinelander Retail Store and Training Center through an 18-month work experience through Goodwill NCW’s partnership with Inclusa and support from Headwaters Inc., he did something unexpected.

He finished the program after two months and applied for a job. Store Team Leader Heather Kliss hired him immediately.

“This program typically lasts 18 months and helps people with barriers get job experience,” said Brian Pond, Goodwill NCW Manager of Business and Partnerships Development. “Daniel excelled and applied for a job after two months in the program. I can tell you this is incredibly rare. When meeting Daniel you could tell that he was the perfect fit for Goodwill, and with supports in place by us and our program partners, Daniel did nothing but excel in his short time in the program.”

Eager, loyal and generous, Daniel has brought excitement and energy into the donations production area.

“Watching Daniel’s work ethic and excitement to work has been very humbling,” Heather said. “Daniel does not shy away from work — he puts his gloves on with excitement and rushes toward it! We are very grateful that Daniel and his family chose us to be a part of Daniel’s development. In such a short period of time, Daniel had outgrown the program and went on to full employment. Daniel and his family should be so proud, as all of us here at Goodwill are very proud of Daniel. We are lucky to have him on our team.”

“Daniel’s story is amazing,” Brian said. “With Daniel’s mother’s support as well as support from our program partners, the store and, of course, Daniel’s hard work, Daniel excelled and broke down every barrier.”

Fifth annual Goodwill scavenger hunt honors organizer’s mom


The fifth annual Restoring Hope Thrift Shop Scavenger Hunt was held over Mother’s Day weekend after taking a year off because of the pandemic and took teams to Goodwill retail store and training centers throughout Green Bay and the Fox Cities in search of goodies on their list and with a few special tasks and fun challenges to complete.

It’s a tribute Lisa Madison of Seymour started in 2016 to her mom, Marlene Matuszak, who died in 2014 after an organ transplant.

Lisa created the fundraiser to benefit Restoring Hope Transplant House, a nonprofit organization that serves transplant families throughout Wisconsin and is based in Middleton. It was a place of comfort for Lisa and her family.

The event has raised a total of $16,500, including $4,519 this year, and had 55 participants.

“After taking time to reflect on the day and the days prior to the event, the importance of community seemed to be in the center of my thoughts,” Lisa said. “Much like Goodwill, the Restoring Hope Transplant House is all about providing support and uplifting others in our community. The support and care we received from the home was genuine, and it saw us threw some uncertain times. Why raise funds scavenger hunting at a thrift store you may ask? It’s the uniqueness of it all! No two stores have the same items at any given time, along with the uniqueness of the items itself. … What better thrift store to hunt at than the Goodwill, a unique business with the mission to support others in need in our community!”

Teams meet at a restaurant in Seymour and are deployed from there. Each team has a list and only can shop at the Goodwill they were assigned to. Teams take photos of each item they found and can earn bonus points.

One challenge encourages teams to take a group photo displaying a sign that shares a fact about organ donation. New this year, teams can earn extra points for finding a saying on an item, taking a team photo with that item and conveying the message of the saying in the photo. For example, if the team found a graphic tee with a saying about the beach, the team would incorporate other beach gear and clothing into the themed photo.

The team with the most points wins. The fundraiser also includes basket, beverage cooler and 50/50 raffles along with food, refreshments and a Pay It Forward challenge, where a team receives bonus points if they donate to the recipient. This year’s recipient was Charlie, a 4-year-old boy who received a kidney transplant in March.

“After receiving the donation, Charlie’s mom Megan sent a message to me,” Lisa said. “Her message was, ‘I can’t even begin to thank you for the donations we received today! Words can’t explain how humbled and grateful we are! You guys are truly amazing and have once again restored our faith in humanity to donate to a complete stranger! I was brought to tears by the kindness you guys have shown.’

“This fundraiser is in honor and memory of our mother. Throughout her life she showed us how to give and give freely, without pause or reservation and unconditionally. She was an amazing mom and a supporter of her community. With all that we have experienced this past year in our community and the communities around the globe, this year’s event left me feeling whole again. The love and care of a perfect stranger was real, good and healing of the soul, a feeling that I received by the power of support from our community.”

Contracted Services program honors retiree

George Smalley is retiring from Goodwill NCW after working for 15 years at the Shiner Center in Appleton in the Contracted Services program. A celebration honoring him was held Monday.

President and CEO Chris Hess thanks George Smalley on his 15 years of changing lives through his work at Goodwill NCW.

George Smalley

President and CEO Chris Hess thanked George for his 15 years with Goodwill and for changing lives in the process.

“Believe me, I’m going to miss this place,” said George, adding that it’s been his favorite place to work.

“It’s been a great honor to have you on our team,” said Paul Brunette, Contracted Services leader. “We’ve had some great fun with you.”

Known for his quiet and pleasant demeanor, George helped build the program to where it is today, Paul said.

Contracted Services assists business in accomplishing tasks that aren’t cost-efficient to be performed in-house and provides job-skills training to people with disabilities or other barriers to employment.

“Thank you for all of your hard work over the years,” said Tina Schaffert, Contracted Services area team leader.

The people keep team member at Goodwill for four decades and counting

As the longest-tenured team member with Goodwill NCW, which is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year, Tammie Penney has earned bragging rights.

Tammie, who is celebrating 43 years with Goodwill this year, started as a program participant at the Menasha Retail Store in Training Center in 1977 through a partnership with Advocap. A year later, Goodwill NCW hired her on as a team member.

Now 61 years old, Tammie has been a part of the “Goodwill family,” she says, ever since.

After more than two decades at the Menasha location, she moved to the Darboy Retail Store and Training Center when it opened in 2005.

“I love the people and the place,” Tammie said. That is obvious.”

While the people and the place keep her here, she also enjoys the variety of the work and getting to know customers by name.

“I like to do everything,” Tammie said.

She appreciates the stability her job has brought to her life and the positive impact the team has made on her. Tammie, who has two grandchildren with disabilities, has learned how to treat people with disabilities with kindness, patience and respect and likes to serve as a leader and mentor to them. They are lessons she can apply to her own family, she said.

“I’ve tried to be positive, upbeat and nice and am happy to be that way. It just brings my spirits and hopes up.”

There also have been challenging lessons, too, where she has been pushed out of her comfort skills and learned skills she never thought she was capable of. Self-doubt sometimes would get in the way of her believing in herself, and she was always encouraged to try.

“Goodwill has done the best for me, and I’m very thankful for all these years,” Tammie said.

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