Sparking Joy

Marie Kondo seems to be the talk of the town as we kick off 2019.  In case you haven’t heard, Kondo is an organizing consultant and author from Japan.  On January 1st, Netflix released the first season of Tidying Up with Marie Kondo, in which “world-renowned tidying expert Marie Kondo helps clients clear out the clutter — and choose joy.”  And for Goodwill, she has definitely sparked joy.

January is traditionally a very tough time for Goodwill. We usually don’t see many donations due to winter weather and cold temperatures.  It’s not unusual for Goodwills to struggle with inventory levels in stores, because as you know, our inventory comes from the generous donations of our community.  Lower inventory leads to fewer sales, which affects the ability to support job training and employment programs at the heart of our mission. This January has been a little different. Goodwills across the nation are seeing double digit increases in donation levels.  It is hard to ignore that Marie Kondo might be at the center of what is shaping up to be one of the best starts to a year that we have seen in a long time.

The news and social media are filled with examples of Marie Kondo’s impact on Goodwill.  We were excited to see one of our donors featured in the story about Marie Kondo. Our team has met with many local reporters as well, and even described donations coming in folded as Kondo teaches in this story.  On Twitter, everyone at Goodwill got a laugh about one particular tweet that proclaimed, “Marie Kondo is a fictional character created by Goodwill Industries to get me to donate half of everything I own”.

Six photos of lots of bagged donations that were submitted to Goodwill by donors after "Tidying Up" their homes

The method, which reminds us to keep only those items that “spark joy”, is allowing joy to extend beyond the walls of our newly organized homes and into our communities. The increase in donations is driving a positive trend in Goodwill store sales to start the year.  The result is Goodwill’s ability to provide the needed services in our local communities, through the funding of training and employment programs for individuals who come to us because they face obstacles to employment.

For those of you who have let go of items that no longer “spark joy” and brought them to Goodwill, I thank you.  For those of you who may not have taken the plunge yet to organize your home; I hope that as we go through the year, you will remember that giving to Goodwill will ultimately spark joy for someone who needs the “hand up, not a hand out” that Goodwill provides.


Goodwill on the Hill

On April 19th, Goodwills from across the country met in Washington DC to advocate on behalf of Goodwill and the individuals we serve. This is something that we do once a year to ensure that our elected officials know the impact that Goodwills are having throughout our communities, but also to ensure they understand how they can support our mission through their work in Congress.

Our team from Goodwill Industries of the Valleys included staff as well as Christy and Bryan Morris. Christy is an individual who came through our GoodStart Prisoner Re-Entry program and is now working for Goodwill at the Workforce Center in Charlottesville. During visits to the offices of our Congressman and Senators, Christy shared her personal story of how Goodwill services helped her to find work after incarceration and to change her life. You can watch Christy tell her story, in her own words, by clicking here.

Goodwill Industries of the Valleys on the Hill L-R: Jackson Green, Goodwill Industries of the Valleys COO; Kelly Sandridge, Vice President Marketing & PR; Bryan Morris; Christy Morris, Resource Room Specialist; and Bruce Phipps, President & CEO.

In addition to Christy’s personal story, we also talked with our elected officials about other issues that are at the heart of our Goodwill Mission:

  • Charitable Giving Incentives: With the new tax law most Americans will take the standard deduction. This means that fewer people will itemize their taxes, and therefore will no longer benefit from incentives for donating to non-profit organizations such as Goodwill. We are requesting that lawmakers support the Universal Charitable Giving Act. This legislation would allow everyone to take a deduction for charitable giving before the standard deduction or itemized deductions. This will help to ensure that nonprofits like Goodwill can continue to provide needed programming in our communities.
  • Reauthorize SNAP E&T Program in the Farm Bill: We believe that Congress should reauthorize the Farm Bill, including SNAP, maintaining funding for SNAP E&T that focuses on real workforce development, not just work requirements. This is a great opportunity for Congress to ensure that the program is as effective as possible to assist those Americans who rely on these supports.
  • Invest in Federal Workforce Programs: Programs that help people get back to work is what Goodwill is all about. Congress and the Administration need to fund workforce and other programs that prepare people to be the qualified workers that U.S. businesses need. We were seeking support for the funding of programs including:
    • Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act programs
    • Senior Community Service Employment Program
    • Career & Technical Education state grants
    • Expansion of access to high-quality apprenticeship and work-based learning programs
    • Youth programs to equip the next generation of workers to become productive citizens, achieve their career goals, and contribute to their local economies
    • Programs authorized under the Second Chance Act

Just as it is important for Goodwill to let our elected officials know what is important to our mission, we encourage you to have a voice as well. Goodwill Industries International provides an advocacy portal where you can follow initiatives important to Goodwill and have the opportunity to take action.

Together we can all be a part of the solution that makes our local communities, our state, and our nation stronger.

If you would like to see more photos from our time in D.C. click here.

The Times They Are A-Changin’

A teenager in the ‘60s, I remember the popular Bob Dylan song, “The Times They Are A-Changin’” as the rallying cry for a generation. At times, it seemed impossible that our country would ever come together. But we did and today we continue to see our times changing . . . just in different ways.

Some of the most stressful times of our lives steam from change. Getting married, buying a home, and changing jobs are just a few of the life changes that can cause angst and uneasiness in our everyday lives. But typically, you end up happier once you have navigated the waters of change.

At Goodwill we are not immune to the changes going on in the world around us. As I think about the key areas that will impact Goodwill, I know we must navigate through changes in program funding sources, the ideological shift in the way that individuals, particularly with disabilities, wish to receive services, and the demand for different shopping experiences and what that means for Goodwill.

We were recently notified by the United Way Roanoke Valley that funding for Goodwill programs and services were being eliminated. The notification read, “Our community experienced substantial volatility and dynamic change in the business landscape this year. When such shifts take place in the corporate area, the ripple effect is often significant within the nonprofit sector. United Way felt the impact of these changes in the form of a very challenging 2016 fundraising campaign.” For Goodwill, this means funding budgeted to help support three programs disappeared and we must subsidize with revenues we are able to generate through internal operations, such as Donated Goods and the efforts of our Development team. The Times They Are A-Changin’  

Our communities are in a transition from a period where work centers, such as the ones that Goodwill operates in Roanoke and Radford, were the norm and what were preferred by families of individuals with disabilities. But today, views have changed and society and families prefer for their loved ones with a disability to work in a community setting instead of work center environments. This ideological shift and changes to laws means that Goodwill has to change, too. We have been working with individuals that we serve over the past several years to help transition individuals to community employment or day support services. The Times They Are A-Changin’  

Brick and mortar retail stores nationwide are seeing fewer and fewer people walk through the doors as customers are choosing to shop online. At Goodwill this reduced foot traffic means fewer sales and therefore fewer dollars to support job training and employment programs. In order to be able to continue to provide the job training and employment programs at the heart of our mission we are meeting customers where they choose to shop; either in-store or on-line. Some customers love the opportunity for the expanded selection of items that they find in our online Goodwill store. Others are concerned that the change means their local Goodwill will be void of treasures. I can assure you that your local Goodwill stores, although they may look a little different in their physical appearance these days, remain a treasure trove, and all stores, whether online or around the corner, still provide critical revenues to support job training and employment programs right here in your community. The Times They Are A-Changin’  

Goodwill is strong and I am excited to see what the future holds for not only our organization, but the individuals we serve and for those that we have yet to meet. At Goodwill, when we successfully navigate change the end result is all about the happiness of the people that we serve, their ability to contribute to their communities, and watching them achieve greater independence.

If nothing ever changed there’d be no butterflies. ~Source Unknown

It’s a #LaborOfLove

I grew up in Southeastern Ohio in the 1950’s.  I was one of six children.  We lived in a very rural area in the Appalachian region.  There were small farms, and it was the heart of the strip mines.  It was an economically depressed community.  There were few jobs, but people had a resiliency and they took care of themselves and their families.

I worked many jobs as a young man.  I was a potter, worked as a carpenter, planted trees in the strip mines, worked in a factory and drove a forklift, and was a substitute teacher among other things.  But in 1974 I was lucky enough to find my way to the Goodwill in Zanesville, Ohio.  Forty-two years later, I’m still as passionate about helping people find meaningful work as I was that first day on the job in 1974. 

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, there were 5.6 million job openings in the United States at the end of June. In observance of Labor Day, between August 30 and September 6, Goodwills across the country are challenging people to sign Goodwill’s #LaborOfLove pledge. The hope is to spread awareness about Goodwill and the importance of job placement and training programs for people looking for employment.

By signing the #LaborofLove pledge, you can raise awareness about Goodwill’s job training programs that assist people in obtaining skills and industry-recognized credentials.  Last year, our Goodwill helped individuals earn more than 830 credentials and assisted 4,200 people to find jobs right here in Central and Southwest Virginia.

Goodwill wants to help business and industry close the skills gap in today’s workforce. This requires commitment to retraining and educating our workforce. Today you can help by clicking here to learn more about Goodwill and how individuals can support our efforts to put people to work.