Thanks for giving.
And for donating, shopping, supporting, caring and being so loyal.
As we mark Giving Tuesday, a global day of charitable giving that falls on the Tuesday after Thanksgiving, we thank you for giving to Goodwill NCW in whatever shape it takes. By doing so, you help us provide job-skills training to people with disabilities and other barriers to employment, provide financial counseling to individuals and families who are in debt, give low-income taxpayers peace of mind in filing their tax returns at no cost and much more.
We offer services across 35 counties that live out our mission of Elevating People by Eliminating Barriers to Employment.
You can support us and the people we serve by:
- Donating material items to our 27 retail stores and training centers plus Outlet Store. Goodwill’s mission services and retail operations start with donations. As a nonprofit, we use your donations to provide job training and more for the people we serve.
- Rounding up a $1 or more the weekend after Thanksgiving and have your contribution recognized on our Wall of Gratitude. The wall will remain up in retail stores and training centers until Dec. 6.
- Donating financially. Because we are a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, your gift is tax-deductible. As a reputable nonprofit, Goodwill NCW has received the platinum seal of transparency from GuideStar, the world’s largest source of nonprofit information.
- Donating a vehicle. We offer free towing and accept passenger cars in any condition, light trucks, minivans, full-size vans, motorcycles, boats, recreational vehicles and all-terrain vehicles. Find out more: goodwillncw.org/donate/cars.
Here’s a sample of how we put your donations to use and the programs you are supporting:
In the Fox Valley:
- Contracted Services help businesses fill staffing gaps or complete tasks that may be more efficient to outsource, which can help improve the bottom line, while supporting job opportunities for individuals with barriers to employment. One of the individuals we serve is Brandon Strobel, who celebrated his 21st anniversary with Goodwill in 2020. Brandon, who also volunteers for the Neenah Police Department, said, “I like the people of Goodwill.”
- Employment and Training Program supports people with disabilities in obtaining and maintaining employment in the community. Individuals served work at businesses in the community and are supported according to their work schedules and levels of need.
- Goodwill partners with Curative Connections to provide job-skills training to individuals who are looking to develop the necessary skills to gain successful employment. Jane came to the Weston Retail Store and Training Center nearly two years ago through Curative Connections after tearing a tendon in her leg, which led to immobility, physical disabilities and depression. Goodwill gave her an opportunity to get back into the workplace and the social outlet she was craving. “I’m so happy here,” she said. “I have a purpose to my life again. It really turned my life around.”
- Marathon County Restorative Justice offers alternative resolution processes that address conflict and crime and offers solutions to keep at-risk students in school because school success leads to career success.
- Through the GoodNeighbor program, Goodwill NCW partners with community organizations to provide emergency assistance to agency clients, allowing them to select products from our retail stores and training centers. In 2019, Goodwill NCW gave away over $630,000 in free merchandise to people in need across north central Wisconsin. For example, we were happy to support 300 students in the Osseo-Fairchild School District with $10 back-to-school vouchers through our GoodNeighbor program. “On behalf of the Osseo-Fairchild School District, we would like to thank you for your generous back-to-school voucher program. The students were so excited,” said Heidi Styer-Weir, school counselor.
- Today’s veterans face a complex array of challenges and often are unsure of where to turn to for assistance. Goodwill NCW is partnering with the VHA Vocational Rehabilitation Program with the Tomah VA Medical Center to offer a Goodwill-funded training and work experience for veterans who are referred to us. Not only do participants gain training and work experience, they also gain so much more — self-confidence, communication skills, pride in their work, a social outlet and more.
Meet one of our newest team members, John, who works in our Onalaska Retail Store and Training Center.
John was hired on through a partnership with the VHA Vocational Rehabilitation Program with the Tomah VA Medical Center in Tomah. He had been retired and hadn’t been in the workforce for about five years and decided this year that he wanted to go back to work. His case manager at the VA referred him to our paid training program to help him assess his skills and abilities, learn new retail skills and build his resume with a recent work experience.
John did so well in his training program that the Onalaska store offered him a permanent position on their team, helping out in the donation sorting and production area.
John is an avid thrift shopper and collector, so when his case manager proposed the idea of a training program at Goodwill, he said, “I could make money there!” It all worked out well for him and for Goodwill.
Outside of working at Goodwill, John enjoys gardening and spending time outside. He says working in the garden is his way to escape and relax. This year he grew cucumbers, zucchini, tomatoes, string beans and brussels sprouts.
We want to thank John for his military service and welcome him to the Goodwill family.
By Debra Werch
Store team leader
Rebecca is what we at Goodwill NCW are all about. She helps us live out our mission every day.
The team at the Waupaca Retail Store and Training Center recently celebrated Rebecca’s 10th anniversary with Goodwill NCW. I spoke with Rebecca’s parents to find out how Rebecca came to our nonprofit human services organization. According to her mom, Sherry Brownlow, Rebecca’s previous employers didn’t accommodate her needs or make her feel like she was as important part of their team.
We do that at Goodwill. When Rebecca first started at the Waupaca location, she started by pulling merchandise and pricing items. As time went on, she continued to thrive on extra responsibilities and new tasks. Rebecca is now one of our cashiers.
We have challenged Rebecca, we have added responsibilities, we have given her new tasks. She accepts the responsibility of the position and will always try and do her best job.
Rebecca continues to grow and develop and accepts the challenges we present to her. Rebecca has a sense of pride and loves giving herself to her work, Sherry said. She appreciates that we challenge Rebecca, treat her with respect and make her feel like an equal.
Sherry said years ago when Rebecca was asked what she wanted to be, she would say a teacher. Rebecca has fulfilled that dream. Every day, she teaches us to be understanding, to be patient, to look at things as she looks at them. She helps teach us to look at the world through her eyes and helps us understand that everyone hears, learns and processes differently and that we, as leaders, need to help our team members be their best selves at work.
As much as we challenge Rebecca, she challenges us.
Rebecca has a difficult time with change. She had worked Thursdays for a long time. When we changed that schedule, Rebecca thought she had done something wrong. We had multiple conversations regarding the schedule change, helping her understand the why, reassuring her that it is OK when there are changes and helping her process this new schedule. Now, if I don’t have her on the schedule for Thursday, she will ask me if I need her and will let me know that she is there for me.
Rebecca tells me that often. “Debra, I am here for you.” Rebecca is there for all of our team. She brings in treats and will make cute cards. She is everyone’s friend and is always kind to others. Rebecca paints her fingernails and brings a pen that matches the color tag of the week. We have endless “Rebecca” stories and are blessed to have her on our team.
“The impact of working with Nick and Goodwill has been nothing short of amazing.”
That’s according to job coach Michele, who has been working with Nick Johnson, who is deaf and uses sign language to communicate, for nearly a year since Nick joined the Stevens Point Retail Store and Training Center.
“Our 18-month training program is designed to help individuals with employment barriers receive extensive job training and support to successfully enter the workforce and increase theire independence goals,” said Vickie Basar, Goodwill NCW manager of business and partnership development. “Nick is a stellar example of this program.”
Michele says that Nick has a great work ethic, is always smiling, works hard and is prideful in his duties. He will be the first one to pick up trash off the ground, puts like items together on shelves and if something isn’t aligned correctly or sitting properly on a shelf, he will fix it. Nick is always on time for work, checks in to see what his responsibilities are for the day and doesn’t stop working. When his shift is over, he already is talking about when he will be back at Goodwill to work.
“The benefits to Goodwill are endless, with his dedication, hard work, smiles, great attitude and willingness to go a little further, as he is very motivated,” Michele says. “Nick has been approached by customers and told what a hard worker he is.
“When I ask Nick what he feels about his job, he signs that he is very happy. The benefits to Nick have been a great tool in his independency and working hard and making money. He is understanding of his importance in the community and helping others, along with keeping busy and meeting people and shining his light like he does.”
A donation attendant at the Ashwaubenon Retail Store and Training Center is a shining example of Goodwill NCW’s mission of Elevating People by Eliminating Barriers to Employment, and his incredible journey of overcoming obstacles has earned him a prestigious community award.
In 2012, Cuyler Crump sustained a traumatic brain injury due to drug and alcohol use, which led to him being unemployed for more than two years. Cuyler wouldn’t let that stop him from pushing forward and being successful.
Through the support of Curative Connections, an assisted living program in Green Bay that helps families, seniors and people with disabilities find support and care due to aging, dementia, brain injury or other disability, and the Brain Rehabilitation and Wellness program there, he began vocational work at the Ashwaubenon Goodwill.
Cuyler’s journey with Goodwill began in the apparel department, where he quickly picked up on details such as sizing and colorizing. After only four weeks with Goodwill, store team leader Rosa McMorrow said Cuyler mentioned, “I knew I wanted to be a part of the Goodwill team.”
At the end of his six-week work experience, Cuyler applied for a role as a donation attendant, interviewed and was offered the job. He has been a Goodwill NCW team member since Nov. 1, 2019.
“I have a feeling that I’m exactly where I need to be,” Cuyler said.
His dedication, perseverance, succession of victories and drive earned him the Top Effort Award for Community Employment through Curative Connections.
“He’s so deserving because he really embodies what the award is about,” said Corey, placement specialist with Curative Connections.
“Cuyler’s amazing smile and customer service are on display every time he works at our donation doors as he continues to impress our donors,” Rosa said. “Cuyler is a shining example of our mission that we strive to achieve every day. With a few tools, hard work and training, Cuyler was able to overcome his barriers to employment and find his place on our team. Thank you, Cuyler, for all you do.”
In the wake of COVID-19, the need for services in our communities has grown as more individuals face unemployment and uncertainty. During the Safer at Home order, Goodwill Industries of North Central Wisconsin (NCW) initiated new ways of meeting the immediate needs of the people we serve by adding virtual programming and getting innovative.
Thanks to a grant from the COVID-19 Community Response Fund, our employment and work skills training programs will work to meet these growing needs. We are grateful for the extremely generous support from Community Foundation for the Fox Valley Region and United Way Fox Cities.
Goodwill NCW has been serving 35 counties throughout Wisconsin since 1971 and exists to provide opportunity to people with disabilities and disadvantages in the communities we serve through our mission of Elevating People by Eliminating Barriers to Employment. The lasting impact of the COVID-19 crisis will disproportionately affect those who have limited resources, options and access.
As we support people with barriers in their entry or return to a workforce that might look different following COVID-19, funding from the grant will support employment and work skills training through the following services in Winnebago, Calumet, Outagamie and Waupaca counties:
- Digital skills such as how to use email, perform video calls and use programs like Microsoft Office and Excel.
- Social skills such as learning stress management strategies, how to control attitude and be motivated, etc.
- Employment skills such as resume building, how to interview well and career exploration.
- Assistance with filing for unemployment benefits.
- Job coach and case management support as individuals return to the workforce needing guidance and training on required safety procedures.
Goodwill NCW’s Employment and Training Program is partnering with the Appleton Housing Authority to offer virtual skills training to residents on stress management and attitude in the wake of COVID-19.
Danielle Koepke, Family Support Specialist at Appleton Housing Authority, which provides housing options for low- and moderate-income households, is looking for ways for families to continue to stay connected, feel supported during a time when everything feels uncertain and make progress toward their individual goals.
“With school, work and most recreation at a standstill, it can feel like progress towards anything is on hold,” Danielle said.
David Foertsch, Goodwill NCW Vocational Coordinator, put together a customized lesson on stress management and attitude with a focus on COVID-19’s impact. Topics include reactions to stress, changes in routine, fears, understanding attitudes and controlling or influencing them, silver linings, healthy coping mechanisms, ways to stay social, importance of self-care and how to prep for a career if laid off.
“I think everyone is struggling with fear of the unknown,” Danielle said. “Nothing like this has happened in our lifetimes. Society as a whole went from full steam ahead to lockdown in a matter of days. The type of stress families are experiencing as a result is different. Old coping mechanisms may not be effective here. David was able to offer new ideas and encourage families to try them out. Our participating families were able to talk about what was working for them and offer support to each other. Possibly without realizing it, they became each other’s support network.”
One of the best aspects about this most recent skills training was being able to meet people where they are at, listen to the stories and adapt the lesson accordingly, David said.
“The lesson has powerful information for improving quality of life, but it shines most when that information is applied directly to people’s lives — hearing their unique successes and challenges and finding where to go from there,” he said.
“One of Goodwill NCW’s goals is to empower others with the tools for a successful life. Danielle and the Appleton Housing Authority saw that same goal of continuing to serve others well through this unprecedented time — leveraging technology to virtually offer skills training has been a wonderful adaptation. It’s uplifting to see how barriers don’t need to stop someone from succeeding, they just offer the opportunity to strive another way.”
Goodwill NCW has partnered with Sew Together for COVID-19, a volunteer group from the Stevens Point area devoted to making and providing fabric masks to healthcare workers, at-risk populations and essential workers.
Daylyn Hopp, a member of the group, reached out to Goodwill NCW, based in Menasha, on April 10 asking for supplies of elastic, which was in short supply, along with other thrifted materials.
“We have been forced to be creative, and we’re wondering if Goodwill might be able to help,” Daylyn said in an email. “Even though stores are closed, is there the possibility that Goodwill would be able or interested in making a donation of fitted sheets or T-shirts to our group’s efforts? Fitted sheets provide a small amount of elastic and an enormous amount of fabric. T-shirts can be cut into strips, which can be used as ties for masks given the shortage of elastic.”
Brian Pond and Cassy Sorensen, store team leaders from the Stevens Point and Plover retail stores and training centers, respectively, provided 200 T-shirts, assorted sheets and other material to Daylyn on April 16 on behalf of Goodwill NCW.
The sewing group is busy making masks for the community, including 500 masks for Goodwill NCW team members and program participants, and is nearing 5,000 masks made and donated.
“All of this good was sparked from one email from the group that was sent to Goodwill NCW asking for a donation of materials,” said Kristen Trimberger, Goodwill NCW vice president of business development. “Goodwill NCW serves communities across Wisconsin, and this was another way to live out our mission of Elevating People by Eliminating Barriers to Employment.”
“We are incredibly proud of our community and its commitment to take care of each other,” Hopp said.
Each face mask has either elastic loops that hook behind the ears or ties that are tied behind the head, she said. With elastic in short supply, the group has found that ties made from strips of T-shirt work well.
“The T-shirts we received from Goodwill are available to members of our group to pick up and either use to make strips for the masks they are making or nonsewists have been picking up T-shirts to cut into strips, which they then return to us for others to use when making masks. We also were able to receive some sheets, shower curtains, fabric remnants and curtain panels, which can all be used as the fabric portion of the mask.”
To give a financial donation to support Goodwill NCW’s mission of Elevating People by Eliminating Barriers to Employment, please go to goodwillncw.org/give.
Goodwill NCW’s mission is at work through Payment Partner, which 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.
“The heart of our program is keeping people in their apartments and not having to live on the streets,” said Carmen LeMaster, leader of debt management and Payment Partner. “Without us, many of our clients would be or had been chronically homeless. We provide weekly spending for people so they can buy groceries, cover transportation costs, and get their medications and other personal needs. This stability has also motivated clients to seek employment.”
Managing money can be a difficult responsibility for many people, sometimes causing them to lose an apartment, not have the money to pay bills or buy food and other necessities, said Jodi Moynihan, debt management specialist.
Clients range in age from teenagers just getting out on their own to senior citizens living in assisted living facilities or nursing homes.
There is no requirement to be a client other than a desire for help with finances.
“Yes, we have clients who receive Social Security, receive veterans’ benefits or are on Social Security Disability or Supplemental Security Income, but we also have clients who receive none of the above but work and make a good living,” Jodi said. “They send their earnings to us to help keep them on track and accountable for how they spend their money.”
The ultimate goal would be to help people learn some skills that would allow them to manage their own money, but if that doesn’t happen, Payment Partner is here to help clients be successful.
For information about Payment Partner services, call 920-968-6984.
The Employment and Training Program brings Goodwill NCW’s mission of Elevating People by Eliminating Barriers to Employment to life. It is designed to support people with disabilities in obtaining and maintaining employment in the community.
“This program is at the heart of what we do,” program director Kayla Countney said. “By improving lives, we improve communities.”
During the COVID-19 pandemic and with Gov. Evers’ Safer at Home order in place, the Employment and Training Program has gotten innovative in how it can provide more services virtually to meet consumers where they are with programming they need now. It has resulted in using Zoom to offer virtual social skills training and interview practice to those who have internet and computer access.
“Our team is also developing additional virtual offerings to those in group homes and those who are quarantined at home and may be looking for ways to continue to build their social skills to combat isolation during this time,” Kayla said.
Virtual curriculum development through a partnership with Lakeland Care Inc. includes providing programming via videos and/or step-by-step tutorials. One-to-one or group coaching and teaching by Goodwill staff can occur over the phone, Skype, Zoom, etc. on topics such as safety during COVID-19, internet and online safety, connecting face-to-face virtually, virtual fun with friends and family, and grocery shopping online.
Anyone interested in services can call 920-257-9730.
In addition, the Employment and Training Program is continuing to provide the following virtual services, in partnership with the Division of Vocational Rehabilitation:
- Social Skills: Individualized, curriculum-based training that helps youth and adults develop specific job skills such as time management, customer service, attitude.
- Skills to Pay the Bills: Group-based learning program that covers the soft skills that are required for workplace success.
- Job Prep: Creating and/or updating resumes and cover letters, practicing interview skills and conducting mock interviews, and gathering information to complete job applications so an individual is ready to apply and interview for jobs.
- Career Profile: A comprehensive service to gather information from the individual and support team about the person’s educational background, past work, interests, employment dreams/goals, skills and qualifications. The information is used to help in job planning, job searching and identifying resources for support once the individual obtains employment.
- Job Development: Connecting individuals to employers and assisting with navigating a job search, completing job applications and attending interviews.
- Job Coaching: In-person job coaching for individuals who choose to continue to work and are working in a business deemed essential. Job coaches assist with on-site job training and support to help the individual learn tasks and stay employed.