Achiever of the Month

Coronavirus expected to boost back-to-school spending to record levels

MENASHA — The coronavirus is impacting the back-to-school season in a way that’s never been felt before, and whether students return to the school year by being in school, at home or a combination of both, uncertain families are planning to spend a record amount on back to school as they prepare for the possibility of e-learning, according to the National Retail Federation’s annual survey.

Parents with children in elementary through high school say they plan to spend an average of $789 per family, topping the previous record of $697 they said they would spend last year, according to the NRF. Total spending for kindergarten through 12th grade and college combined is projected to reach $101.6 billion — exceeding last year’s $80.7 billion and topping the $100 billion mark for the first time.

Eighty-eight percent of consumers say the coronavirus will affect their back-to-class shopping in some form, with 30 percent saying they will do more comparison shopping.

Families can stretch their dollar by shopping thrift. By doing so, families also are helping their community. The average purchase supports more than one and a half hours of job training and opportunities.

Here are our budget-friendly tips on shopping thrift for back to school:

  • Donated items with the color tag of the week are 50% off the ticketed price. Shop clearance racks for extra savings.
  • Look for donated merchandise that has the original price tag and pay secondhand prices for clothing that never has been worn.
  • Go often. Frequency and quick decision-making can pay off. Goodwill and other thrift stores are in the business of donations, and what is donated is one of a kind. That means if you see something you like, buy it. You might never see anything like it again. Plus, if you go often you’ll have a better chance of scoring some of those amazing finds.
  • Jeans are a back-to-school staple, and children’s jeans at Goodwill start at $4.99. Adult jeans start at $6.99.
  • Don’t forget to go beyond apparel. Check the racks for belts, purses, backpacks, dorm-room totes, shoes, desk décor, blankets and more.

About Goodwill: Goodwill NCW is a nonprofit human services organization whose mission is Elevating People by Eliminating Barriers to Employment across 35 counties in north central Wisconsin. The organization includes 27 retail stores and training centers in communities from Manitowoc to La Crosse, human services programs, unique shopping experiences at its boutiques and Appleton outlet store, plus online shopping at Goodwill NCW is a Platinum Level member of, the world’s largest source of nonprofit organization information. Visit

November 2014 Achiever of the Month: Marsha Schwoerer

Pictures of Marsha

Marsha Schwoerer of Goodwill NCW’s Manitowoc retail store and training center is the organization’s November “Achiever of the Month” for filling multiple roles at a high level.

Marsha has excelled as a “jack-of-all-trades” since joining the Manitowoc team in fall 2013. At Reedsville High School, she participated in our School-to-Work program, HOPE (Having Opportunities to Promote Employability).

At work, she fills and pulls in the wares, glass, and seasonal aisles, and hangs and merchandises apparel. Marsha helps wherever needed, often taking care of our return rack and fitting rooms.

Twice each week, Marsha donates time at Precious Memories Daycare in Whitelaw, where she cares for 3-year-old children. She’s a volunteer tutor twice each week at the Reedsville elementary school, helping second-grade pupils with homework.

Marsha also enjoys volunteering at Sunrise Horse Farm, where she feeds, grooms, and rides the horses.

Her volunteering also extends to her high school, where she helps wash the dishes, and to The Manor, where she helps the elderly with house chores.

For fun, Marsha loves to ride in a golf cart with her brothers, sings, and enjoys camping in the summer.

Marsha’s long-term work goal is a position where she can help younger children.

October 2014 Achiever of the Month: Harley Orr

Harvey Orr, Oct. 2014 Achiever of the MonthHarley Orr is a valuable asset to the Goodwill Team and is being awarded the Outstanding Achiever of the Month Award for October 2014. Harley has worked at two different locations with two different partnering agencies during his more than 10-year total training time at Goodwill.

Harley started at the Rose Street La Crosse location and is currently working at the Theater Road Onalaska location. At the Onalaska Retail Store & Training Center, Harley had the opportunity for one-to-one job coaching which has helped him grow his skills and advance his goals. Harley is someone that the team looks forward to working with and the customers seek out.

Harley began with Goodwill in 2003 at the Rose Street La Crosse location through Riverfront’s “business based work group” program.  At that time, Harley primarily helped fill the glass department. His goals were comparable to the smaller size of the store but he was proud when he would meet or exceed them. Harley also helped with New Goods, ticketing and other filling opportunities during his shifts.

Within a year of the Onalaska grand opening in 2010, Harley was able to join this team in the growing community. Harley began his training with one-to-one job coaching through Chippewa River Industries (CRI). This partnership was made possible with the help of Western Wisconsin Cares. Harley made great progress in his time in Onalaska. He began assisting with pulling apparel twice a week.

Over time, Harley mastered that process and he progressed to only requiring partial job coaching. Last year, Goodwill and Western Wisconsin Cares offered Harley the opportunity to add two hours to his week if he was open to learning some new skills. During this additional two hour shift Harley has worked in glass, handbags, wares and books. While there was a learning curve and a couple of bumpy patches on this road, Harley has made great strides and has benefited greatly from this new opportunity. He has one-to-one coaching for this two-hour shift which allows coaches to help increase his focus and overall performance. It is Harley’s willingness to try new tasks while maintaining a positive attitude during his training that drove the Onalaska Store Team Leaders to choose Harley for this Achiever of the Month award.

There are a couple of unique traits that Harley has which make him a joy and pleasure with whom to work. At the end of the day, if Harley has worked hard, stayed focused and met his goals, he is rewarded by paging any team member of his choosing to the production area. This is a coveted honor for each of the team members. It is Harley’s way of giving that team member a compliment.

Harley is a very social person. It is important to give Harley time to form the words and share the message that he is offering but everything he says puts a smile on the recipient’s face. His favorite topics are anywhere from a motorcycle ride, to his bowling score, to his favorite food. He loves to share his world with others and we love to share our world with him. Even the customers that he only knows from Goodwill will seek him out to say hello and share in his joy of working.

Goodwill is very thankful to have the opportunity to provide Harley with the training and job skills which will serve both him and the community. The mission statement of Elevating People, Transforming Communities shines strong with Harley. Goodwill is very proud of Harley and of all of his great accomplishments.  Harley is and will continue to be a strong asset to not only Goodwill but also to the people we serve.

September 2014 Achiever of the Month: Tara Gregorich

achiever_201409Tara Gregorich joined the LGBT Partnership, a program of our Harmony Café, last spring after coming out to her family and moving into her mother’s home. She quickly became one of the Partnership regulars and wanted to become more engaged with programing and volunteering. In that time we had an opening for our Youth Health Promoter (YHP) leadership position and Tara was encouraged to apply by peers and her family. This leadership position allows youth to participate in program planning, outreach events and facilitation.

In February of this year Tara faced some emergency level struggles that took her out of group for a while. She did what she needed to care for herself and has come back to Partnership with more ambition to present her story and be a leader within the Partnership. We are thankful to have Tara on our team!

Words from Tara on her Harmony Café experience:

I joined the LGBT Partnership in August of 2013. Partnership (a program of Harmony Café) is a place to share your joys and concerns, build friendships, learn about LGBT history, but most of all have fun doing things in a safe and supportive environment. Before Partnership, I came out to my mum and she was super accepting of me. So, one day she brought me to Pride Alive Green Bay. Pride Alive is a festival about accepting yourself and everyone else in the LGBT community. I recall going to the Partnership’s booth and listening to Jesse’s (Heffernan) spiel about Partnership. That night, my mum did some research and found Partnership on the Internet.

Have you ever felt awe, shock, relief? If you have, you know exactly how I felt as I walked into the conference room of Harmony Café that first night. It was purely amazing! Every day I faced hardships that made me fear getting judged, put down, or even ignored. When I got there I sat away from the group, but they literally pulled me to them and made feel like I was joining a family. I was encouraged to grow and prosper just with this. This surprised me; I never thought I would be able to be Tara, without hurting.

Everything was filled with promise, even the pledge which was read by everybody in unison. After the pledge, we talked about everything and anything that popped into our heads. We played Apples-to-Apples, laughed until we cried, and smiled until it hurt. After that first day I continued to attend, loving that warm feeling I got every time I walked into the room.

The best memory I have was about six months ago.  After group I was getting ready to leave and talking to my mum about group. Jesse came over to us and started talking about an YHP position that opened up. He had explained to me that YPHP stands for youth health promoter and has huge responsibilities. I wasn’t going to apply, but Jesse and my mother encouraged me. The interview day rolled around and I was terrified. After the interview Jesse announced that I had got the YHP position; I was overjoyed. From that day forward I was able to walk hand-in-hand with the youth of Partnership and share my passion.

So, if I hit the point I’ve been aiming to make, hopefully everyone understands that with the help of Partnership and Youth Go I have been able to transform from meek and timid into a leader. LGBT youth face much higher risks such as being bullied, depression, self-harm, and suicide. Partnership offers youth a safe place to feel accepted and grow.

August 2014 Achiever of the Month: Sandi Sweney

Passionate. Committed. Community minded. These are just a few descriptors that come to mind when talking about Circles of Support volunteers. Volunteering is often a “feel-good” opportunity where one walks away feeling appreciated and sees some immediate results for their efforts. Not necessarily so in our realm! There is a lot of planting and sowing.  The reaping takes time.  Not taking things personally when a set-back occurs is truly a gift our volunteers possess.

Sandi Sweney, Circles of SupportOur Neenah-Menasha Circles group is a prime example of commitment. They say they are only doing what needs to be done. What they are really doing is saving people from living behind bars and giving them another chance at life.

Gloria is our “resource lady.”  When needs arise Gloria is our go-to person.  She doesn’t quit until she succeeds!

Jerry walks a participant five blocks to the meeting every week in good weather or bad!

Richard drives from Clintonville. He built and delivered a bed-frame for a participant who had been sleeping on the floor.

Lou, our ambassador, gets the word out to community clubs and organizations.

David is a trucker. He’s been our resource for participants choosing a trucking career.

George is a participant who has terminal cancer as well as suffers with anxiety. John, not an avid fisherman, takes George fishing. This is a vital experience which adds to George’s quality of life.

The leader of this remarkable team is Sandi Sweney. I cannot begin to express all she has done for so many in the valley. She has saved lives and made our community safer. Sandi not only leads the N/M group but also groups on Saturdays and Tuesdays. She does intakes, provides rides, presents for Circles in prisons, and mentors new volunteers.  She is my go-to person when I need to be grounded.  Her common sense leadership is enhanced by her ability to relate to anyone on any level in all environments.

Goodwill is fortunate to have Sandi leading this outstanding team.

Learn more about Circles of Support here.

July 2014 Achiever of the Month: Lea Seefeldt

Lea works in our Menasha Retail Store & Training Center and is a terrific asset to our Menasha Retail Team. She has an unbelievably positive attitude and has a long history of achieving. Here’s a look into Lea’s achievements…

Lea was the first child child with Down’s Syndrome to complete Winnebago County’s Birth to 3 program. She move from a pre-school program for children with severe challenges to a classroom for those with moderate challenges. Beginning in in kingergarten, Lea was already mainstreamed for some of her schooling. She was the first student with Down’s Syndrome to learn to read, write and master basic math skills in the Neenah School District.

In 1999, Lea started with our Vocational Support Services (VSS) Program and was hired at Shopko. At Shopko, Lea has been named the Employee of the Month. She also took on another job at the Menasha Goodwill Retail Store & Training Center in 2008 as part of the Work Services Program. Lea started this job with a one-on-one job coach but now works independently without any coaching needs. Lea stocks shelves with candy and gum at Shopko and while she is at Goodwill she dresses the displays with fun, eye-catching outfits while extending her great customer service.

If having two jobs isn’t enough, since 1999 Lea has volunteered at Hoover School. She was recognized by the Wisconsin State Superintendent of Schools as Volunteer of the YEar. Even bi-lateral hip surgery did not slow Lea down very long as she is now part of a softball league in Neenah!

Lea helped build her own Habitat for Humanity house, and has called it home for 10 years. You may also see her wonderful smile riding around the state as she is one of the “Faces of Goodwill” on our Goodwill trucks.

Lea’s trademarks are her cheerful smile and her go to phrase, ” Piece of Cake” which she uses when facing a new challenge. Lea is a true inspiration!

Lea Seefeldt, July 2014 Achiever of the Month