Certifications Lead to Employment Success

2020 was different and challenging for so many people. Beginning in March with the start of the pandemic, we saw unemployment skyrocket with the shutdown. My Mission Services team here at Goodwill Industries of the Valleys quickly changed our way of delivering job training and employment services. Before March, our services had been almost exclusively in-person, but within days, we launched Virtual Services. The online programming and services allowed us to continue helping individuals who lost their jobs, aid employers who were still hiring, and assist people who used this time to advance their skills so they will come through this crisis with expertise making them more employable. Over the past 10 months, the need for Goodwill services increased by nearly 70% over 2019.

Employability skills often come in the form of credentials or certifications. The pandemic even changed the way some industries operate making employers desire employees with certifications. Indeed recently released an article describing the 20 Most-Requested Certifications by Employers in 2020. We were very excited to discover our Goodwill offers 7 of these certifications – more than a third of those most desired by employers.

Our Goodwill training and employment services focus on giving individuals a hand up to a better job and gaining greater independence. Certifications are a great way to make that happen. From Indeed’s list of most-requested certifications, we offer:

  • CPR certification
  • Certified Nursing Assistant
  • First Aid certification
  • Certified Medical Assistant
  • Pharmacy Technician certification
  • Home Health Aide certification
  • CompTIA Security+ certification

Most of the certifications are offered through our GoodCare Healthcare program. GoodCare is funded by a Health Professions Opportunity Grant from the United States Department of Health and Human Services. And through partnerships with Community Colleges and Adult Education or Literacy programs, GoodCare students benefit from supportive services, life skills training, education, and assistance to obtain employment in the healthcare industry. Individuals enter an in-demand occupation and have the opportunity to grow and advance their careers through healthcare pathways with many of these most-requested certifications.

Our Information Technology training program offers individuals the opportunity to earn the CompTIA Security+ certification. Goodwill’s IT training program helps individuals gain the skills needed to have a career in the technology industry. Students begin with an IT Fundamentals Class. This class prepares and provides individuals with the skills they need to move forward in Information Technology training. The IT program gives financial assistance for tuition, books, and exam fees in part from the U.S. Department of Labor – Employment and Training Administration. Individuals also benefit from job-readiness training, soft skills, and job placement assistance. The IT program teaches the core concepts for the Comp TIA Security+ certification.

We want to help individuals who come to Goodwill for assistance. Our services help them upskill and add certifications or credentials adding to their employability during this crisis and offering them a brighter future after the pandemic! I’ve been so impressed with my team and our Goodwill organization throughout the crisis. We continued to fulfill our mission to help individuals who now, more than ever, need hope and a hand up to be successful!

Thanks & Giving Feels So Good

Is it just me or has 2020 been pretty tough? Between the pandemic and our divided nation, 2020 has truly been an emotional rollercoaster and without all the “normal” distractions that make life more fun. I miss going to the dance studio and the children’s museum with my daughter. I miss birthday celebrations and hosting friends. Sometimes, I miss my parents and siblings, who live out-of-state, so much that it hurts.

I could go on, but instead, I will share some things I am grateful for. My sweet and very spicy 5-year-old, Alice, who is handling all of this better than us adults. My devoted jack-of-all-trades husband, Jeff, who takes care of us and is totally rocking his new teaching role… Alice says Mr. Daddy is her favorite teacher ever! I also have a good job and a wonderful work family. Most importantly, I am so incredibly grateful that I haven’t lost any loved ones to COVID-19 or any other ailment this year. Moreover, none of us are facing eviction or food insecurity. While the pandemic has kept us apart physically, 2020 has made us appreciate each other even more.

2020 has taught me an important lesson… don’t take these blessings for granted. So many people don’t have the support system that has stopped me from going off the rails on this emotional rollercoaster. So many people have lost their jobs and their sense of security. So many people have lost loved ones and without being able to say goodbye.

Throughout my life I have learned the more I focus on what I am grateful for and how I can help others, the more my own struggles seem to fade away… gratitude and generosity help me feel good. Even during non-pandemic years, I have avoided stores on Black Friday. This year, I will definitely participate in Small Business Saturday and plan to primarily support small businesses through my holiday shopping. I just learned about Sorting Sunday this year and I have never paid attention to Cyber Monday. However, as a nonprofit professional, #GivingTuesday has become ubiquitous with the holiday season.

In the spirit of the holiday season, #GivingTuesday was created to encourage people around the globe to do good. We all need some good in 2020. At Goodwill, we are helping our neighbors who have found themselves out of work and who are struggling to make ends meet. Through Goodwill’s training and employment services, individuals are learning in-demand skills and launching well-paid careers, so they can better support themselves and their families. Please reach out if you or someone you know needs the hand up Goodwill can provide.

This #GivingTuesday (and every other day) give someone hope however you are able. Whether it’s a phone call, a helping hand, a toy for a child, a meal for a family, a financial gift to your favorite nonprofit, or simply a smile, it will make a difference for someone else AND make things feel a bit less tough and more hopeful for you. Please join me and #GiveGoodwill as we say goodbye to 2020 and hope for a happy and healthy 2021. Together, we will come through this crisis stronger.


Transitions Led Patrick Curtis to a New Future

Patrick had worked at his family’s business, Hamlar-Curtis Funeral Home, for nearly ten years. In May 2019, Patrick’s father retired and ended his family’s 67-year connection to the business. Just a few months later, his father passed away. The challenges kept coming, when in May 2020, Patrick was in a serious car accident, which made him rethink where he was going. Through all of life’s transitions, Patrick persevered with support from his family and Goodwill.

No longer working at his family’s business, Patrick discovered Goodwill’s Careers in Technology (CiT) program in the Fall of 2019. As a member of the Board of Directors for the YMCA Express in Gainsboro, he learned about the program during a Mission Moment at a board meeting. The program sparked Patrick’s interest and offered him the opportunity to work information technology (IT), a field he is very passionate about.

Patrick went to Goodwill Industries of the Valleys the next morning to inquire about the specifics of the CiT program. He quickly applied and was accepted into the program. While pursuing a degree from Virginia Western Community College in Business Administration, Patrick was able to attend CiT classes at night. The flexibility and quality of the experience ignited his passion for IT even further. Patrick completed the CiT program in October 2019 and graduated with his Business degree in May 2020. In July 2020, Patrick passed his CompTIA A+ certification and was offered a Help Desk Technician position at the Bank of Botetourt on the same day.

Life has led Patrick through many tough transitions in a short time span, and he has persevered. He achieved his goals with sheer determination and the continued support of Goodwill. Through the Coronavirus pandemic, Patrick took advantage of services Goodwill was offering including, resume building workshops, virtual job fairs, interview preparation tips, and much more. He also benefited from virtual one-on-one test preparation assistance via Zoom. “They did a good job not leaving us out to dry since it was an unfortunate circumstance with all of this,” Patrick stated. “Goodwill’s IT Training team stayed on top of things. They tried to steer us in the right direction and kept motivating us and keep encouraging us.”

Patrick and his family are well known in the Roanoke Valley. He has actively served many community organizations including the YMCA Express at Gainsboro, and the Roanoke Branch NAACP ACT-SO Program. He is also a former member of the Roanoke City Mayor’s Advisory Committee and the HIV/AIDS Stigma Reduction Committee. Patrick’s faith is very important to him, and he is a lifetime member of High Street Baptist Church, where he serves as Assistant Treasurer, Trustee, leader of the Projection Team, and former Chaplain of the Youth Ministry. Today, Patrick is proud to be the one sharing his Goodwill story in Mission Moments throughout the community he is so actively involved in. Patrick believes, “the IT Training program does a wonderful job, and Goodwill and the IT Training team should be very proud of their hard work and dedication to the community.”


Coming Back

The month of March felt more like a year within a year to me. Our tiny but mighty Marketing team worked closely with our colleagues in Mission Services to transition as quickly as possible from in-person services to virtual ones in order to continue to serve individuals with disabilities and disadvantages as well as the general public.

April saw many of our coworkers remain temporarily laid off, with others working from home. We worried about one another, and supported each other, alone, together. I was inspired by the resilience of our retail teams who sprouted a grassroots movement within our organization, #GIVRise.

May began with a spark of hope toward some degree of normalcy, and this month, we’re grateful to see our stores reopening, coworkers returning to work, and program managers setting dates for in-person mission services to begin again.

Work Family – (l-r) Kelly, me, Chelsea

What’s it like, returning to work at Goodwill? For me, I am happy to see the smiling eyes of my fellow team members peeking above their mask-covered faces in the halls of our Goodwill Support Services offices. I was grateful to continue my work from home, and I’m happy now to be working side-by-side (6 feet apart, of course!) with the dedicated, service-focused, loving folks I’m lucky enough to call friends and colleagues.

As Social Media and Marketing Manager, I was thrilled to see all the yay! and woohoo! comments in our store reopening announcement posts. Thank you for tagging each other and passing the word along. You, our shoppers and donors, are the fuel that makes the Goodwill mission happen and we appreciate you more than ever!

Goodwill retail team members were beyond excited to get back to their stores and have worked diligently to welcome shoppers back in a way that ensures everyone’s safety as the pandemic continues. If you haven’t seen their Welcome Back Video yet, we guarantee it will put a smile on your face.

Many employees have expressed how much they missed their coworkers and regular shoppers. One Goodwill Donations Processor in Lynchburg said she was VERY glad to be back…but couldn’t fit in her work pants! (A struggle I am way too familiar with!)

Reopening days have had customers arriving as much as three hours early to be among the first in the door at opening time. In Galax, shoppers were clapping and cheering as they entered the store for the first time since March. A Pearisburg customer exclaimed, “I have missed all of you so much!” to the cashiers and one Christiansburg customer told us, “All of us thrifters are so glad you are back open!”

Waiting for the doors to open in Charlottesville and practicing social distancing!

Goodwill fans on Facebook have been equally enthusiastic.

“Thank you for all your hard work to safely reopen! Just visited the Charlottesville branch and it was great, clean, and they handled the crowds well.”

Grace C.

 “Wards road handled the crowd tremendously! Such a great experience and nice to see our friends at Goodwill again!! 💛 We missed it!!”

Megan B.

We realize COVID-19 has not been eradicated yet, and for now, I’m embracing the new normal, enjoying being with my work family, and responding to your questions and comments on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Most of all, I feel encouraged by the dedication of Goodwill donors who have continued to give generously throughout these painful months, and by shoppers who are returning to Goodwill stores with such genuine enthusiasm. Because of you, Goodwill is strong and on track to come back better than ever! Thank you!

Have you wondered? Answers to questions Goodwill has received during the crisis.

Phase 1 Has Arrived. . . Now What?

Have you seen the post circulating on Facebook talking about the journey we have all been on over the past few months? It points out while we have all been quarantined and living through this experience together, it is truly different for all of us – we are all in different boats. Some of us are healthy; some have underlying health conditions; some have small children and are now also teachers; others are empty nesters who haven’t seen their kids in months. Some believe we should open the economy and get back to business as usual; others are scared and want to remain safe at home.  It is really a strange time.

As our team at Goodwill began looking at reopening, it was important for us to hear from our employees.  We surveyed our employees who were still working, as well as those who were temporarily laid off. We wanted to know when they would feel safe returning to work. We have taken this into consideration, along with guidance from our elected officials, and are working diligently to get our stores ready to safely reopen.  However, we have decided, after hearing from our employees, the day we open will not be Friday, May 15th.  Soon, but not quite yet.

It was important to me to make sure all my employees in our Donated Goods operations had at least a two-week notice for their return to work date. Their lives have changed.  They need time to re-establish childcare and make other arrangements.  We also need time to make sure our stores are fully prepared to safely reopen.

While our stores were closed, you continued to show your generosity and donated as you used the quarantine as a time to clear the clutter.  Some of our locations were able to stay open and accept donations, others were not.  As our teams come back to work, we will use the time until we open to get the stores ready for you to return.  And we are SO EXCITED to WELCOME you back!

When the doors do open, it will be different.  We will have a limited number of customers allowed in the stores at one time.  This capacity will be posted.  Additionally, per the Forward Virginia Guidelines, no one with symptoms or a known exposure to COVID-19 will be permitted to enter.  Our team will be wearing masks, and we encourage you to follow the CDC and VDH guidelines as well.  There will be many safety precautions in place and signage, like what is pictured below, to remind us all how to “Stop the Spread”. We know this will be different, and we ask for your help and understanding as we all learn to navigate these new waters together.

Shop safe - don't shop if sick, stay 6 feet apart, follow CDC and VDH guidelines for masks, hard surfaces will be sanitized regularly and staff will wear gloves

We understand some of you will be frustrated we didn’t open the day Phase I went into effect.  We also know there are others who believe we should all remain at home and not reopen.  We are all in different boats and will likely be for some time.

As a social enterprise, Goodwill is unlike most nonprofits, who rely almost completely on monetary contributions. We earn more than 70% of what we need to operate through Goodwill store sales. With the crisis and the need for social distancing, we made the decision to close our Goodwill stores.  With that, critical revenue streams suddenly and unexpectedly all but vanished. And while we are a strong organization, expenses continue, and the need for our services is greater than ever with the significant increase in unemployment. It’s hard for me to believe our stores have now been closed for almost two months.  Reopening will offset expenses through sales in our stores and provide the critical funding needed for training and employment programs, so we may continue to support people in our community who need our help during these difficult times and in the future.

I speak for the entire Goodwill team when I thank you for your support now and in the future. We look forward to our teams being together again, and we look forward to opening our doors soon to welcome you back. Until then, we hope you are safe and well and remember, whatever boat you are in, Good Will Come.

Mindy Boyd - Blog Contributor

Good Has Come - During COVID-19 we have found Good in the wake of sadness and uncertainty. Today, we share the good.

How We’ve Seen Good Come . . .

Goodwill Week takes place each year during the first full week of May. Typically, it also marks my favorite event of the year, the Annual Awards Ceremony. For those who have attended in the past you have likely seen me “ugly cry” as we celebrate the individuals we serve and the success they have achieved. It’s truly an uplifting event and the stories are inspiring. This year, the first week of May looks a little different.  While we are not able to currently get together, we are hopeful by Labor Day to be able to celebrate the successes and support of our Award recipients.

But it is still Goodwill Week and this year, in the wake of all the uncertainty and sadness, we felt it was more important than ever to still share all the GOOD happening around us. We’ve all been inspired by the uplifting stories on the news and we know these are happening right here in our community.  Earlier this week we posted to Facebook that we believe GOOD has come despite the crisis and invited our followers to share the good they have seen.  We asked the same of some of our Goodwill associates.  If you could have seen me as I read some of these, you would have once again seen me “ugly cry”, because they are inspiring and help us to remember what is truly important in life.  I hope they inspire you to remember, not only that good will come, but in many ways good has come.  Stay safe and be well.

One day, people will be reading about how we as a nation stepped up to fight back against this pandemic and I think they will be proud of us too.” ~Crystal Hairston

“Some of the good things I’ve experienced are, I don’t have to look for something to wear to work or think about what I want or where I’m going for lunch. But the best part is being able to FaceTime with my team members. We have communicated more as a team than when we were working and seeing each other in the office.”

 Cassandra Carson, Mission Services


“I am amazed at the resiliency of people and organizations in our country since this pandemic began. I remember as a child, learning about WWII and how American Industries ceased production of automobiles, appliances, and toys and began manufacturing weapons and military equipment. I was amazed to see this happening again during the COVID-19 pandemic. GM, Ford, and Tesla have halted vehicle production to mass-produce needed ventilators. A local textile organization in Martinsville has paused production of its fabrics, dance outfits, costumes and active apparel to start producing masks, acrylic protective shields and gowns for healthcare workers. I also see local entrepreneurs making masks in their home to supply the needs of communities. I am so proud to see how quickly people and organizations transition to supply the needs and demands that have been brought on by this pandemic. This gives me hope that we will survive and be made stronger by this experience. One day, people will be reading about how we as a nation stepped up to fight back against this pandemic and I think they will be proud of us too.”

Crystal Hairston, Mission Services


“It has allowed my family to become closer together. We are getting more involved in our kids’ school assignments and have a better understanding of what they deal with daily. After work, I’ve also gotten into video games and that good quality family time.”

Ed Preston, Mission Services


“Individuals, churches, civic and nonprofit groups reaching out to help medical workers with childcare and financial support through this terrible time.”

Paul Snavely, Goodwill Business Solutions


“I’ve seen Goodwill assist people and organizations through a variety of employment placement services, job training, programs and other community services.”

Veronica Thompson, Mission Services


“I have seen communities and companies come together and support our local First responders. This is through giving of meals, face masks, and other PPE supplies.  Have been able to have church on-line with friends and family from all over the world. This has brought people closer together. This time has shown me that there are times in our lives that we must slow down. We get so caught up in our day to day lives that we miss out on life itself. We need to take time to stop and smell the roses, listen to the birds sing, and spend time with those we love. Life happens every day and it is up to us on how we choose to live it. Do we want to go fast pace to the finish line and miss everything in between or do we want to move ahead slowly and enjoy the journey along the way?”

Wayne Latsch, Goodwill Business Solutions

This time has shown me that there are times in our lives that we must slow down. We get so caught up in our day to day lives that we miss out on life itself. We need to take time to stop and smell the roses, listen to the birds sing, and spend time with those we love. ~Wayne Latsch

“Working remotely, I’ve learned how to use Microsoft Teams for video meetings. What a wonderful tool and simple to use. Plan to use it for meetings with colleagues in other regions from now on! I also learned how caring, resilient, and innovative my colleagues throughout the organization can be. True ambassadors of our mission. Personally, daily walks and bike rides with my husband. Family dinners with our son each night, just like old times. Such a nice way to connect.”

Lori Baker-Lloyd, Support Services


“While I was temporarily laid-off, receiving the calls from the Goodwill Coaches was a huge Pick Me Up!  My first call was from the young lady on the Goodwill commercial.  We had a nice conversation and when I heard her story of how Goodwill helped her and she began working for the organization, I shared my brother’s past experiences with her.  We bonded and it felt great.  It is so good to hear about those who have really struggled and came through and doing so well.  I teared up after that call, good tears.” 

Tina Bousman, Support Services


“I have learned to pick up the phone and talk to people instead of being too busy and just sending an email. These precious employees that had been temporarily laid off, have the best attitude and can’t wait to get back to work. It made me humble, and it made me want to do better.  I’ve cooked and cleaned and spent this amazing time with my husband. I learned we don’t need to buy stuff and we don’t need to go out every weekend for dinner. It really makes you think about easier times when we didn’t have to rush so much and really enjoyed being home. Look at what this pandemic did to the planet, Venice canals are clear, smog and pollution gone from the sky. I hope we’ve all learned from this, even though we can’t be together we did find ways to communicate.”

Doris Marrs, Support Services


“Adapting to work from home was an odd challenge, especially with my wife across from me. But we figured it out and I have become really productive. I do really miss seeing everyone. My wife and I stick to our work routine, break in the morning and a break in the evening which is usually a walk.”

Michael McCarty, Support Services


“I am working from my kid’s house since my internet at home is too slow. This allowed me to work an earlier schedule and eliminated the 45 min ride to/from work every day. All this extra time was spent playing board games and taking walks with my kids. I loved getting to spend more quality time with them!  My husband was temporarily laid off, so he spent his time working on our house and perfecting his pizza dough, in between fishing of course! I love coming home to our beautiful house with dinner waiting for me! My stress melts away.”

Jan Barton, Support Services


“I feel like my whole life has been training to prepare me for this moment. I am grateful. I feel a true sense of purpose. I am exhausted.  Navigating this pandemic demonstrates what it means to love unconditionally. Even people you have never met.  At work, we have been reminded how very much our customers support us and our mission.  We have to be super creative and are reminded how joyful that can be! We learned how essential our work is especially in times like this!”

Jodi Henrickson, Goodwill Business Solutions

I am really soaking up every minute of the time I am home and get to spend with my children. I have been able to experience things with them that I am never home for. Watching them learn and grow in just a few weeks is something I will be forever grateful to have experienced. ~Stephanie Smoot

“My team has risen to the occasion by lifting and delivering a wide array of virtual services to help individuals in our communities. They worked incredibly hard to make a rapid shift and still maintain high quality of service delivery. I’m so proud of them! Having my 15 and 19-year-old daughters at home and willing to talk to me?  Priceless.”

Mary Ann Gilmer, Mission Services


“Since the Mission Services Coaches began working to provide support to our own employees who were temporarily laid-off, I have seen people go above and beyond to connect people they didn’t previously know to resources at all hours of the day. When a need was expressed, or a question asked – they’ve responded! The ability to help others during a time when we feel so helpless is healing. These connections will stay with us long after we all return to work making us stronger as a team! As coworkers, we have made it a point to check in with one another more so in the last month. Whether just a quick text or a moment before the meeting starts to see how everyone is holding up. Since working from home, I have had the opportunity to really see the trees, flowers, and other foliage on our property come into its own this spring. The pace we keep during normal times often seems to keep me from noticing the smaller things of beauty that are all around us.”

Stephanie Hoer, Mission Services


“The creative ways we are working to continue to serve our communities through PPE collection and virtual services at Goodwill.  For me, being able to continue working while making memories with my family that I would have otherwise missed.  I am really soaking up every minute of the time I am home and get to spend with my children. I have been able to experience things with them that I am never home for. Watching them learn and grow in just a few weeks is something I will be forever grateful to have experienced. It is surely a struggle at times but very rewarding too. Also, the creative ways we have been able to stay connected to sports (soccer) teams and the dedication of these coaches to keep the kids connected virtually and training with Zoom has been wonderful.  Seeing everyone come together for the GOOD has been amazing and I think people are finding the time and creative ways to really reconnect and bring back the focus on what is really important in life.”

Stephanie Smoot, Support Services


“I see many families slowing down in today’s fast-paced world.  Families are reconnecting, and life seems to have taken on a much simpler meaning for the family unit.  Extracurricular school activities have been canceled, which for many families means more time together!  We are seeing more activities such as sitting down for a family meal, enjoying a family movie, spending quality time with loved ones that would have otherwise been laid aside for practice, sports, and other events outside the home.  My family spends time outside on the farm, playing cards on a lazy Sunday afternoon, and reminiscing times gone by.   It has been both educational and entertaining for my daughter. While we are certainly facing uncertain and unprecedented times, we are also relearning many values that have been lost due to our fast-paced lifestyles, and many families are finding their way back to one another!”

Sue Johnson, Mission Services


“I have seen team members step up their creativity in serving our folks in these unique circumstances. Supported Employment team members are video calling with their folks to provide job skills training to their furloughed folks to keep their skills fresh. One of my favorite examples is an Employment Specialist practicing sweeping with an individual enrolled in programming over a video call. Each had a broom and was performing this task at their home. The Employment Specialist was able to provide feedback to better this skill for when the individual is back on their worksite. The CIT team has begun virtual trainings that will continue even when we can provide face-to-face classes. This way we can serve even more individuals in this training program, not just folks who can attend in-person classes in Roanoke and Christiansburg.   Personally, my friends from high school and I are having weekly virtual game nights. We haven’t all been in our hometown at the same time for over 5 years. It’s been a great time to reconnect and reminisce about our younger days!”

Trent Moore, Mission Services


“I’ve been really impressed with the adaptability and innovation of my team. They not only made their program classes accessible and good as it ever was, they may have improved on it! Also, on a personal note, everyone I am close to has stepped up, and rather than panic, has worked together to help one another. I’ve seen this with my student’s current cohort as well; they care about one another, and check up on one another daily. It’s a beautiful thing.”

Victoria Fesquet, Mission Services


Kelly Sandridge - Guest Blogger


Have you wondered? Answers to questions Goodwill has received during the crisis.

How is the HOPE FUND Helping?

Last week, on behalf of the Board of Directors of Goodwill Industries of the Valleys, I announced the establishment of the HOPE FUND. This week, I thought I would share a little more about why Goodwill is so important to me and give you an update on the progress.

I’ve been in the financial industry for many years. This field has given me a unique perspective into the lives of individuals from all backgrounds, from the very wealthy to those who struggle to put food on the table and provide for their families. It is humbling to realize any of us could easily be in the latter situation. The COVID-19 crisis has quickly made this a reality for many who were simply going about their daily lives – until the world changed and Coronavirus became part of our vocabulary in March.

Nationwide more than 30 million people have filed for unemployment.  In Virginia we’ve seen this number climb to nearly 500,000. As a member of the Goodwill Board of Directors it was gratifying to me to see the team at Goodwill quickly jump into action and remain of service. I’ve always said, Goodwill offers something unique: access to training and programs that allow individuals the dignity found through work.  Today, while they can’t make the jobs reappear, the team is helping people navigate unemployment, offering classes so people can better position themselves for work after this crisis, and providing hope through free career coaching.

Since Virtual Services launched mid-March, Goodwill has seen more than 2,100 people access the website. Participation also includes:

  • 1,392 online classes completed, of which 562 were LIVE classes
  • Personal coaching for nearly 500 people

This has all been happening, while the stores have been closed, which means Goodwill’s primary revenue source is not generating funds to support the mission. So last week we turned to you to support the HOPE FUND.

Help Your Neighbors - Support the HOPE FUND

I am happy to report because of you, together RER Energy Group and Energy Efficient Technologies will be matching $5,000 in gifts. You have helped us raise more than $10,000 and we could not be more appreciative. In just one week, through your support of the HOPE FUND, you have covered the cost of Virtual Services for two weeks!  Additionally, the HOPE FUND is helping to support the cost of maintaining health insurance coverage for those employees who have been temporarily laid off. In addition to continuing their health insurance, these employees will return at their same tenure and pay rate after the crisis and have maintained their PTO accrual rate during the crisis as well. You are making this all possible through your generous support of Goodwill.

I hope this has answered your question of how the HOPE FUND is helping. And I hope you never wonder how much your support of Goodwill is appreciated.  Stay safe and well.

Matt Churchill Blog Contributor

Have you wondered? Answers to questions Goodwill has received during the crisis.

How Are My Local Goodwill Donation Attendants?

When you email info@goodwillvalleys.com, I’m often the one reading the message on the other end.  It is not uncommon during extreme weather, hot or cold, for us to receive messages of concern for our Attended Donation Center (ADC) attendants.  These are the people in your local community who work at the white buildings where Goodwill collects donations.  Not surprising we have received similar messages during this COVID-19 crisis.

As you may be aware, Goodwill Donation Centers are open.  Many of you have taken this time of self-isolation to clear the clutter and bring it to Goodwill.  For that we are very grateful!  And likewise, our attendants are grateful for the opportunity to remain working and of service to you.  They are interacting with you a bit different these days – staying at least 6 feet away, removing donations from your trunk for you, or offering bins for you to place the donations yourself.  And they are using hand sanitizer, lots and lots of hand sanitizer.

Like many of you, we at Goodwill have struggled to find supplies at times.  Hand sanitizer was an item we were worried about obtaining.  That is until one of our board members and a community partner came to the rescue.

On a recent Tuesday morning several of us jumped on a Zoom call.  Online were our local Goodwill Board Member Mike Flint, our CEO Bruce Phipps, our COO and Compliance Officer Jackson Green, me, and from Spectrum Brands – Global Pet Care in Blacksburg, Donal Robb.  Mike and Donal have been friends for quite a while and when Mike told Donal of Goodwill’s challenge to find hand sanitizer it spurred this early morning call.

I have to add; I hope video conferencing will remain after this crisis.  In days prior to COVID-19, this would likely have either been an impersonal conference call or a face to face meeting that likely would have taken weeks and a drive up I-81 to coordinate.  Instead we had personal interactions and a little fun as we worked through a plan.

 Goodwill and Spectrum working together is not something new.  In fact, the relationship goes back more than 15 years.  Goodwill Business Solutions, our department that provides outsourcing solutions for area businesses, provides manufacturing and fulfillment, as well as janitorial services, for the Blacksburg plant. 

Spectrum, in response to the crisis, has shifted one of its lines to produce hand sanitizer.  They donated product to both Lewis Gale Hospital and Carilion Clinic, and during this call, committed to also provide the much-needed hand cleaner for Goodwill employees working on the front lines to collect donations.  Goodwill Business Solutions has also begun making masks for Spectrum.  The relationship is really a win-win.

What made this call even more rewarding? When the hand cleaner donations made it to the ADC Attendants. They were so excited and thankful. 

So, to answer how our ADC Attendants are?  Thanks to Spectrum and you, our generous donors, our attendants are safely and happily still collecting donations throughout our communities. 

It doesn’t seem we can end anything these days without saying, I hope you and your family are safe and well.  I also want to add a reminder that good will come.  In fact, I think in many ways it already has and I hope we take that good with us as things begin to return to normal. 

Have you wondered? Answers to questions Goodwill has received during the crisis.

How I Can Be of Service?

As most of us are staying home and social distancing, now more than ever we want to engage and help in any way we can. At Goodwill, we have been hearing from many people who want to know how they can help during this crisis. It is truly heartwarming to receive these messages and reinforces to us that the community values the work of Goodwill and our employees throughout our region.

To answer this week’s question of how to be of service during the crisis, we wanted to provide you with lots of different options.  Options of how you can help Goodwill now, during the crisis, and in the future.

Spring Clean and Donate!

If you are like me, being home has made me realize all the “stuff” surrounding me every day that I truly don’t need. I have put a bag in my garage to put things I come across and wonder, “why on earth am I hanging on to this?”. When the bag is full, I’m popping it in my trunk so, when I run to pick up my ClickList from Kroger (more on this in a second), I can drop it by one of Goodwill’s Donation Centers. While Donation Center hours are reduced, there are bins at locations so we can all donate, even if the center is unmanned.

Shop from the Comfort of Your Couch!

We know many people are missing their Goodwill Hunting trips! I can tell you our teams are also missing their regular customers and cannot wait to serve you when the stores re-open. Until then, we invite you to checkout our online Goodwill store!

Goodwill stores generate more than 70% of Goodwill’s revenues to support training and employment programs. Now that they are closed, this critical funding has all but disappeared. Shopping online allows you to get your Goodwill Hunting fix and support the mission at the same time.

Goodwill has launched Virtual Services, which are allowing us to continue to provide the much needed programming for individuals who have lost their jobs, employers who are hiring, and for people who are using this time to advance their skills so they will come through this crisis with the skills that will allow them to be more employable.  Shopping from the comfort of your couch helps to support this programming.

Support While You Shop Elsewhere!

Kroger Community Rewards

I mentioned my Kroger ClickList pick up earlier. Did you know, you can link your Kroger Card to a non-profit and each time you shop you will support that non-profit through the Kroger Community Awards program? I linked my account to Goodwill Industries of the Valleys and last quarter my family’s shopping resulted in a donation of $15.01 to Goodwill. Now, that may not seem like much, but every little bit helps and when more and more people sign up, the number only grows.

Amazon Smile

Who else has started buying anything they can off Amazon, just so you don’t have to leave your house? It’s a little ridiculous at our house and my husband laughs every time I Lysol the box before bringing it inside! (You can’t be too careful these days!) I do feel good knowing I’m using smile.amazon.com, which supports Goodwill Industries of the Valleys.

If you aren’t aware of AmazonSmile, this is from their website. . . “AmazonSmile is a website operated by Amazon with the same products, prices, and shopping features as Amazon.com. The difference is when you shop on AmazonSmile, the AmazonSmile Foundation will donate 0.5% of the purchase price of eligible products to the charitable organization of your choice.

So, when I looked at my account today, since April 6th, I’ve generated $10.96 to support Goodwill. No judgement, please…and don’t tell my husband, but you can see how quickly this can add up!

Leverage Your Social Network

How many hours a day are you now spending on social media? I know, me too. It helps us feel connected when we are so disconnected. So why not share some of the good happening in the world right now?

Share how Goodwill is helping people through our Virtual Services. You never know if one of your friends could benefit from the programming available.

Or, conduct your own Facebook fundraiser and encourage your friends to give. Again, every little bit helps and it also feels good to give, even if it is just a little. I posted a fundraiser the other day and very quickly raised $100. That’s a $100 that wasn’t raised before I asked.

You can find information about setting up Facebook Fundraisers, AmazonSmile, and Kroger Community Awards on Goodwill’s website.

Good Will Come

While nothing seems consistent right now, other than change, I do know one thing . . . and that is, good will come. Our neighborhoods, communities, and country will come through this. My hope is when we do, we will all keep a service mindset, our focus on family, and remember how important we are to one another. Stay safe and be well.

Kelly Sandridge Blog Contributor
Have you wondered? Answers to questions Goodwill has received during the crisis.

If Goodwill stores are closed, why does Goodwill still need my donations?

I hope this finds you and your family safe and healthy during this uncertain time.  I’m happy to be able to answer some of the questions we are hearing from the public.  I am fortunate to serve as the Vice President of Donated Goods for Goodwill Industries of the Valleys. I’ve been with this amazing organization for 15 years and started as a store manager.  The mission of helping people and families in our communities to achieve better lives through work and independence is why I do what I do every day. 

The answer to this week’s question is very simple. Donations are what keep our organization strong and positioned to help people who need job training and employment programs at the heart of Goodwill’s mission.  With the stores closed, we are not seeing the immediate financial impact of donations being sold, however we know once this is over our customers are going to be ready to shop! We have small teams in our stores accepting donations and also processing and packing the stores so they will be ready for our Grand Re-Opening day!  For those of you who have been to a Goodwill Grand Opening…Yes, we are preparing every store right now in the same way we would with a Grand Opening. So get ready to SHOP!

Goodwill’s online eCommerce store is also still operating.  Missing your Goodwill hunting trip? Shop online at www.shopgoodwill.com/roanoke and your purchases will support our local Goodwill mission.  There are over 120 Goodwills on ShopGoodwill, so we encourage you to shop and support not only our local Goodwill, but Goodwills across the country who all work to provide training and employment services to individuals in need. Shop Goodwill online at www.shopgoodwill.com/roanoke

Many of our donors know Goodwill can accept items that cannot necessarily be sold in our stores.  Ripped and stained clothing, worn out shoes, damaged books, and more enter Goodwill’s recycling operations, which generate critical funding to support the Goodwill mission.  Goodwill salvage and recycling efforts kept over 13 million pounds of material out of landfills last year and generated funds to support training and employment programs. These operations continue today, during the COVID-19 crisis and are allowing those donations we can’t sell in the future to support the organization and our Virtual Services, which are now available. 

Finally, Goodwill is collect Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) in some of our areas for local hospital systems.  You can find more information about these efforts by clicking here.  So when you donate, don’t forget to bring along those items you have at home that can be used by our healthcare providers to keep them safe.

During this crisis and always, we are so grateful for your support.  We hope you are well, safe, and know that good will come.    

Mindy Boyd - Blog Contributor