Ep. 2: Digital Connections and Resources Transcript

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(Music fades)

Alicia Hello and welcome to our second episode of What’s Good Goodwill. I’m your host, Alicia.

Michelle And I’m Michelle. Alicia, we heard a lot of talk about digital skills, and it can be hard to remember, at least for me, that not everyone is growing up with technology or has easy access to a computer or the Internet.

Alicia Truer words have never been spoked.

Michelle Let’s get to the good stuff and talk about how Goodwill can help with digital connections.

Alicia With us today, we have James from the Goodwill Career and Resource Center, and we took a few minutes at one of our Goodwill Connect Open houses to chat with Arielle about the program.

Michelle James, thank you so much for joining us today.

James Yeah, thanks for having me.

Alicia So, James, can you tell us a little bit about you and what a typical day is like for you?

James Yeah, so I’m the Career and Resource Center specialist, and I oversee our career and resource center, which is a computer lab where folks can come in and search for jobs, search for housing, they can search for other resources or anything that they need just to better themselves and get ahead and what they’re trying to do.

Alicia Very cool. How many people would you say in a day come to the Career Resource Center?

James I’d say typically we see four or five people in there needing any level of assistance, whether they’re it’s pretty straightforward. They know what they’re doing to folks that really need like an online application maybe they need assistance with that or assistance to help creating a resume or sometimes assist with housing applications also.

Michelle Oh, that’s pretty good. James, what is something that you take away from helping a person who is struggling?

James What I take away, I think from helping folks in the in the Career and Resource Center is, you know, we all need a little bit of help sometimes. And this is just a place for them to come in and ask for that, you know, not not be judged for what they’re trying to do. You know, it is person centered.

James So I may tell them half jokingly, it sounds kind of crazy, but we help them with it anyway.

Alicia Do you get a lot of people that feel silly or almost embarrassed, you know, to come into the Career and Resource Center to get help?

James Yeah. You know, I think a lot of folks they have that initial barrier of not knowing how to ask for help necessarily or what exactly that they need. Some people don’t even really know what they need. Yeah. They come in and we we help them sort out whatever is going on with them in their lives and what kind of help they need. And we just offer solutions.

Alicia People can definitely feel intimidated to walk into a place and, you know, ask for assistance with technology. But I think a lot of people forget how fast technology changes. I mean, think about what would you say ten years ago when, you know, smartphones weren’t the standard, really. Like there was still flip phones. I think back like ten, 12 years ago my first laptop and how different that is.

So it’s it’s it definitely changes a lot and changes.

James That I think we take for granted the technology and I think we tend to assume that we all know what we’re doing. Yeah. But the reality is it is changing so fast. I think the biggest hurdle, the biggest issue that I see is that every website has a different way to apply and you have to reinvent the wheel every single time.

James Mm hmm. And that’s that can be really frustrating too to some folks.

Alicia Oh, I bet.

Michelle That’s got to be so hard when, you know, you’re trying to get a head start. You’re trying to change your life, and then you’ve run into digital issues that you never expected. Like you would just expect to be able to walk into a place and just apply for a job.

James Yeah. Exactly. And we we try to make that appear seamless to our to our customers and our clients that are asking for that help.

Alicia So with that being said, is there a particular story or an instance that stands out to you like somebody that you’ve helped that really stuck with you that you’re like, Yeah, I feel good about that.

James Yeah. You know, we we’ve been helping a gentleman who is probably a, I don’t know, a low grade renaissance man, if you will. He he knows a lot about each individual skilled trade so much so that he has his journeyman certification and a lot of them. But because of his advanced age, he’s having a hard time finding a place to work.

And he we finally found a place that sticks and he’s been working there for a couple of weeks now, and they love him. You know, it’s it’s OK that he goes a little slower when these younger kids he’s you know, he’s doing his job, making his money, and he’s he’s independent. He’s realized that independence again, which is great.

Michelle Wow. That’s pretty good.

So, James, how have other agencies or community partners or even Goodwill programs how have they played a role in what you do?

James Well, the other agencies certainly play a part in the the wraparound services, if you will.

Michelle What does that mean?

James So wraparound services, once you get that job, once you get into the housing that you were applying for, how do we make that stick? How do we get that long term attachment to that job? Or how do we improve your chances of staying in your in your apartment? And the wraparound services may be financial literacy, or it might be some help with utilities or it might be help with on the job.

Some folks may need somebody to help them advocate for a reasonable accommodation. So those types of services, we really try to keep people in the housing once they’ve found it, and we really try to keep people attached to the employment that they’ve found.

Michelle So people aren’t just so when they come in, they’re not just getting maybe digital help. They’re also finding once they get that digital help, they’re finding other resources. And you’re like a guide.

James Absolutely. Absolutely. Yeah. So so we really take a look at what their situation is. And it’s not just the one large issue that may be plaguing them, you know, that 80% issue, we look at the other 20%, the other little little things that that add that value you know, it’s not just the service. We’re really trying to get you fully ensconced or entrenched in that employment or in that housing role.

Alicia Where can people find the career and resource center and where are you located?

James So the Career and Resource Center is located here at 130 East Third Avenue in Spokane it’s the brick building there. The administration building just to the west of the retail store on third and we’re open Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. until 3 p.m.. You know, we’re open for, for any type of employment assistance or help with creating a resume or housing applications or any type of SSI verification letter or connection to the unemployment insurance website.

Yeah, we just offer a lot of services that help folks get the stuff done that they need they need to get done to become more independent.

Alicia Even if somebody just wants to stop by and say hi and run away.

James Oh, absolutely. No requirement to even be a client or attached to a program at Goodwill we’re just we’re here for the community. We’re here to to elevate our community.

Alicia That’s pretty good.

Michelle James, how can they connect with you?

James So my our phone number in the CRC is (509) 321-3346. Or you can reach me via my email address, which is JamesB@giin.org.

Michelle James loves pictures of cats. Just kidding. Send them all, send him pictures of kitties.

(Group laughter)

Alicia To wrap up all of that goodness. Here is what we learned from James today.

James So my name is James. The Career and Resource Center is a place where our community can come and connect with resources. And you can find us at 130 East Third Avenue in Spokane, Washington. And we’re open Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. until 3 p.m..

Michelle James, thank you so much for joining us today.

Alicia Yes, thank you.

Michelle Goodwill is honored to be able to work with so many outstanding community partners in eastern Washington and North Idaho.

Alicia We had the opportunity to meet with Katie Patterson Larsen, executive director of Art Salvage to get a better understanding of their mission. And here’s what she had to say.

Katie Patterson Larsen I am Katie Patterson Larsen, and I’m the executive director at Art Salvage. We are a nonprofit, creative reuse organization. We provide mini grants because we know we want to connect other groups and other local nonprofits with materials and in in a way that they can come and select the materials that they need for a program. So we take monthly applications for that and try to serve a wide variety of different organizations and people that need supplies for their programs.

Michelle Alicia, with how the cost of everything seems to be rising, I think one of the hardest things to do is to try to find a computer and affordable Internet, even when you have both of those. I think it can be challenging to navigate with computer programs, online applications, and even I don’t know about you video conferencing.

Alicia Yeah, for sure. And with that being said, we have good news for Washington residents. We met with Arielle from the Goodwill Connect program to chat about what the program does and who qualifies.

Michelle Let’s take a listen.

Arielle My name is Arielle and I’m a digital navigator. As a digital navigator, we are primarily out in the community doing outreach to let people know about the Goodwill Connect Program. We’re also delivering devices to the people who have been selected to receive a free Chromebook. And we also spend a lot of time out in the community working with other nonprofit groups so that they can help us spread the word about the Goodwill Connect program.

So I’ve worked with the Meals on Wheels in Spokane. I’ve also worked with the New Hope Resource Center out in Colbert. I met with people at the Family Crisis Center in Newport, and I’ve gone to every library in every town I’ve ever visited. I am our primary outreach person, so I have gone as far north as Metaline Falls and as far south as Pullman, Washington.

The whole reason I was attracted to this job is I have done customer service for ten years, and I talked to a lot of elderly people who have a really hard time with technology, and I’ve always said, if I was sitting right there with you, I could help you figure it out. And so when I saw this job and realized that it would be essentially doing that, I knew it was the perfect fit for me.

So in order to qualify, they just give us a call at 877-GW-Connect, one of the digital navigators, will do a very short intake process with them. We ask them about ten questions. The biggest qualifier is that you have to be under the federal poverty level of 135%. And so for a single family one person household, that equates to about 1500 dollars or less a month, but that is also based off of self attestation.

You don’t have to prove your income. And we also used what we call an adjusted gross income. So anybody who gets benefits through Social Security, Medicare, TANF, those don’t count towards your adjusted gross income. So it does make it a lot easier to qualify for people who are struggling the most. We’re able to connect you with a variety of different resources, and the sooner you get your application in, the more likely you are to be selected.

So I would just advise that if you’re in need of a device, give us a call. The devices do come with a prepaid Internet. So not only do you get a device, but you also have Internet access. And for some people, that’s a big deal, especially with the ones that live outside of the rural areas because Internet connectivity is a problem.

Easiest way to reach out to us is to give us a call on the hotline, and that number is 877-GW-Connect. You give us a call. We do a short intake with you. You don’t need an Internet. You don’t need any of that. You can simply pick up the phone. We also not only do we provide English speaking services, but we have a variety of other languages available as well.

We are able to meet the needs of a wide variety of people. This program encompasses the entire state of Washington It’s really good that people are finally realizing that this is a need and a basic human right. As we become more digitally connected, there are people that are missing out on being able to receive services even because they don’t know how to get online and they don’t know how to connect with all the different things that are available.

So we’re a great resource because you can call me, and even if you aren’t interested in the laptop and you’re not interested in the classes, I have a list of community resources and if you are interested in something, I can send you in the right direction. So you don’t need to be able to go online and do all that because if you call me, I’ll help you figure it out.

We actually offer a variety of classes. Most of them are done out of our Spokane office when it comes to in-person classes. But we did just here last week that there is a digital library that is available for anybody in the state of Washington to use, and it covers basic computer use, Android phones, iPhones, Internet, basics we’ll teach you how to use Microsoft Word, Microsoft Excel, PowerPoint.

So we and even email basics and just kind of get you familiar with how to get back into the digital world and and feel confident in doing so. Because I find that for most people who are not connected, fear plays a big part of that. And so we’re here to help you not be afraid.

Alicia Wow. That’s a lot of information.

Michelle It sure was.

Here’s what we learned about the Washington State Goodwill Connect program.

The Goodwill Connect program is here to help with access to a computer, affordable Internet services, tech support for devices, and one on one support to help you build computers skills.

Washington residents can call 844-492-6663 or visit goodwillconnect.com to find out if they qualify and to register for the program.

Alicia Prefer to chat? Use the new live chat feature available Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on the goodwillconnect.com website.

(Music fades in)

Michelle Hey, if you’re hearing this message, you’ve listened to our new episode all the way to the end. And for that, thank you.

Alicia And don’t forget to keep up with what’s good by following us on Social Media, on Facebook, @INWGoodwill, Instagram @Goodwill_INW, Twitter @GoodwillINW and TikTok @GoodwillINW.

(Music fades out) 

James I was thinking the other day, you know, I can’t walk my dog to the pond anymore because the ducks there keep attacking them.

Michelle Why?

James Well, he’s a purebred dog.

(Group laughter)

Michelle Budum tss!

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