Ep. 4: How Secondhand and Employment Formed Goodwill

Note: What’s Good, Goodwill? is produced for the ear and designed to be heard, not read. We strongly encourage you to listen to the audio, which includes emotion and emphasis that’s not on the page. Transcripts are generated using a combination of speech recognition software and human transcribers, and may contain errors.

(Music fades) 

Alicia: Hello and welcome to our fourth episode of What’s Good, Goodwill? I’m your host, Alicia

Michelle: and I’m Michelle. The history of how Goodwill programs and how it’s tied with second-hand shopping is something that I think some of our listeners and even shoppers and donors may not be familiar with. Alicia, kick us back way back to the beginning.

Alicia: It was a cold brisk day in 1902 in Boston, Massachusetts. Reverend Edgar J. Helms had an idea. He and his ministry went door to door with a burlap sack and collected used household goods and clothing in more wealthier areas in the city to hand them out from his church. Reverend Helms quickly learned that people didn’t want a handout, but an opportunity for employment. So they trained and hired those who are poor to mend and repair the used goods. The goods were then resold or were given to the people who repaired them. This system worked, and the goodwill philosophy of a hand-up, not a handout, was born.

Michelle: In 1939 Goodwill opened in Spokane, Washington. Almost 83 years later, we continue to serve thousands of people each year in the inland northwest.

Alicia: One of the programs that have continued in many different forms has been our employment programs. So joining us today from our Workforce and Family Services team is Junior.

Michelle: Junior, thank you so much for joining us today.

Junior: Thank you very much for having me here, ladies.

Alicia: What do you do for Goodwill?

Junior:  So I work for the WFS Program, Workforce Family Services, as a program manager for northern Idaho. Specifically, Ponderay, Coeur d’Alene and Post Falls.

Michelle: So, Junior, what’s a typical day like for you?

Junior: A typical day varies based on agendas that I have for the day. It would be more on emails, staff supervision and management on programs and just ensuring that all of our participants are well served and also work in compliance with the state of Idaho.

Alicia: Can you explain what employment programs at Goodwill are?

Junior: So employment programs are specifically focused in helping out participants, which in other words, are clients that come into our program here at Goodwill. Our employment programs really focus on helping our clients get jobs and have sustainable jobs and be successful in their jobs and have a greater understanding in their independence.

Michelle: Can you explain more how these programs actually help people?

Junior: So we provide one on one job coaches, and when our specific participants have barriers or challenges with their own personal health, and so our job coaches help ways and bridge that gap for them to be more successful in their jobs. Whether it is reminding them on their daily duties, responsibilities and roles and also ensuring that they’re in on time and clock out within their time as well, and have an understanding of when it’s time for their breaks and their lunch time.

Alicia: So would you say like a job coach is more of a guide to help build the skills that they need in the workplace?

Junior: Yes.

Michelle: Junior, how many people do these programs serve?

Junior: We serve currently 31 participants.

Alicia: Is that just within the areas that you mentioned earlier?

Junior: Yes.

Alicia: So how did you start working within Workforce and Family Services?

Junior: In my previous employment I used to work as a program manager for DDA and DVR. So I had a very great understanding of like how developmental disabilities affected our participants and as a result, those credentials and experiences helped me go through the ranks, here at Goodwill to be a program manager.

Michelle: Oh, he used acronyms!

Alicia: Yeah. What’s DDA and what’s DVR?

Junior: Developmental Disabilities Administration and DVR is Division of Vocational Rehabilitation.

Alicia: Okay.

Michelle: Okay. Thanks. So, Junior, why Goodwill?

Junior: I like serving people. Goodwill has a transparency culture, a family culture, and they’re really focused in helping participants get a greater understanding of their independence and just making a big impact in the community. I guess I learned that from going attending Eastern Washington University, starting something big, and I personally feel like Goodwill is starting something big.

Alicia: Can you tell us what kind of outreach is happening to make the community more aware of the resources that these programs offered?

Junior: So for outreach? What we are doing for outreach?

Michelle: Yeah.

Junior: We’re doing a lot of community navigation and going to job fairs, any kind of like work-related fairs. I reach out to Region One, Region Two to have like IDVR, Voc. Rehab, Idaho Department of Labor as well. We provide brochures, pamphlets, door hangers as well. And also we really depend on word of mouth because a lot of family send in their participants for us to serve in employment programs.

And sometimes when we’re successful, that customer service aspect can get spread around quickly. And so then Goodwill builds that community recognition right here. We help out. People have a great understanding of their independence. That’s part of the program. And so, like we categorized the state of Idaho in specific regions. Region One is focused more on Bonner’s Ferry and Kootenai County. In other regions or specific counties in the state of Idaho.

Something I’ve learned personally myself is that the state of Idaho is really big.

Michelle: Yeah, it’s not just the handle. Like, I feel like because we cover North Idaho, I always just focus on the panhandle, and I always forget that there’s an actual pan attached

Alicia and Michelle: to the handle

Junior: I really like that analogy. 

(group laughter)

Alicia: You had mentioned about a lot of the outreach is by word of mouth. So we had met with Matt Dee, who is the manager at Texas Roadhouse. And something that I learned is that and I didn’t even realize this until he mentioned it is that Texas Roadhouse does not advertise. You don’t see commercials for Texas Roadhouse and you don’t hear advertisements on the radio and you really don’t see at least I don’t on like social media

Michelle: yeah

Alicia: you don’t see ads or anything. They are like strictly by word of mouth because they want it to be community-based. Texas Roadhouse, the one here in Spokane, has one of our participants employed there. And when I went to chat with Matt about it they are just having a really good time and he only has good things to say about Goodwill. Imagine that. 

Michelle: Wow. 

Alicia: And yeah, he loves working with Goodwill and hiring participants through the employment programs. And he mentioned that you know, some of the best people that he’s had come from Goodwill.

Michelle: Which is why Texas Roadhouse was one of our 2021 Employers of the Year this year.

(Group applause and cheering) 

(Music begins)  

Matt: I’m Matt. I’m the managing partner at the Texas Roadhouse in Spokane, Washington. It’s a partnership. You know, it’s both ends. The community comes in, eats every night, we are packed full.  We have to make sure that we give the same amount of effort and time as our community is. Out here, when you guys actually contacted us, I was all for it. Today in this society where jobs are plentiful and people are not those kind of employees are priceless these days. The program seems like it fits what Roadhouse wants and the community wants to help provide the community. So it was kind of a natural partnership. I think the community understands what you’re doing and they’d rather support you than that place that doesn’t get out in the community, doesn’t help its community. One of the big things, like you don’t see us on TV, Texas Roadhouse across the country is not on TV.

We market ourselves through community where community involvement being at events, those kinds of things schools, hospitals, fire stations, Goodwill programs. Those are the kind of things that draw people and that’s how we market is by doing good in your community. Don’t be afraid. The community around whatever business you have is your everything. So you do good and you get good results.

Michelle: Junior, can anyone enroll in these employment programs?

Junior: Anyone can enroll as long as they abide by a specific qualification that they have some form of disability that’s preventing them from being successful in their jobs and also coordinated service provider needs to refer them to our program. They can also enroll themselves, but they have to fall under specific qualifications.

MichelleSo when you say service providers, what kind of service providers?

Junior: So for example, the Division of Voc. Rehab in Idaho State, they send us directly participants that want to be in our employment programs and usually we talk with service providers, which they’re also state workers.

Alicia: Okay, so those participants would have first seen or spoken to or met with those vocational specialists, and then those specialists send those participants to Goodwill or refers them.

Junior: Refers them to Goodwill. And then we initially do a meet and greet just to see if it would be a right fit for them. And then once we do a meet and greet, then we have our first appointment, which is just conducting an assessment with them and just doing an evaluation and just gathering all the necessary information after the and greet where the family feels like, okay, parties will really enjoy Goodwill’s appointment program here.And so I think it would be a suitable fit.

Alicia: Okay. So sounds like it’s very one on one 

Junior and Alicia: person

Junior: Yeah, yeah. 

Alicia: Can you tell us what are some goals that the employment programs are hoping to achieve this year? 

Junior: We want to be very competitive as an employment program in the state of Idaho, and that’s something that we’re getting from our current leadership. General Manager John Nickerson. So we want to increase the production rates on that. We want to be getting more participants because it helps our program grow so we can provide new opportunities for our employees and also create the sustainable culture where we want to have higher retention rates as well. So they can be a win win for both our team, but also our participants are getting that good quality services.

Michelle: Can you tell me, you were talking about your team? What are some positions on your team? I think you mentioned before job coaches, so what’s a job coach and maybe what are other positions inside the employment program?

Junior: So in the employment program, we have job coaches that work with the participants one on one, hands on. We also have employment specialists that work for participants and kind of just check in with them daily and kind of help them get more jobs that will be more successful. Like, for example, office jobs. We also have billing specialists that kind of just provide to me the metrics and the numbers of like where our program is heading towards and what we are missing. And we also have myself as the program manager overseeing that. And then from there, it’s just a chain of command within the WFS program.

Michelle: How can the community connect with your program?

junior: We have an open door policy and so the community can reach out. I specifically get a lot of calls from like service providers. That’s not just IDVR thats just interested in sending us on participants, and so that’s a good way for us to build that community involvement, engagement, and also our word of mouth and through job fairs, it really gets out there. And so sometimes they call me, they call the job coaches, employment specialists or even our billing specialist gets calls and on some occasions, we have service providers show up to our office just inquiring about the resources. And that’s another way to.

Alicia: Do you have any success stories that you can share with us?

Junior: We have a participant that’s been working at Goodwill for the past ten years. At the beginning, she didn’t really have a lot of work experience, but she got the support from our employment program and working with job coaches one on one, which allowed her to be successful. And as time progressed, she ended up owning her own house in Idaho, Post Falls.

Michelle: It sounds like you’re talking about Marjorie. Are you talking about Marjorie?

Junior: She is legit a success story. Like a success story.

Michelle: If you’d like to see Marjorie’s story you can actually check out the link below in our Goodbites section, or you can visit our YouTube page and you can actually watch Marjorie story, which I think was one of the first success stories that I saw when I joined about six years ago. Made me cry. No lie. Junior. What is the end goal for employment programs? So is it getting participants out into the community into jobs? Is it getting them a job at Goodwill? What’s the end goal?

Junior: I’m glad you asked that. So the end goal, it really focuses on an individualized personal plan for each participant initially at the beginning of our meet and greet and we get to know the participant more and start building, I guess, an evaluation with them. We start creating their own personalized goals for the whole year. And then every six months we do something called the service review on their goals to see if they’re close to achieving them or if they already achieve their goals. And then we create a new plan. So our end goal varies for each participant. But initially that one thing I’ve noticed that’s a common trend is that they just want to have a successful job and be stable and get out of the house.

Michelle: So it’s pretty self-paced. 

Alicia: So your goal isn’t to get them out of the program?

Junior: No, and it’s all based on them too. Like if they already initially feel like “I’m already successful I learned these important working skills. I think I can do this on my own.” And that’s something that we review with their service providers and with the family as well, and have the family also share that same sentiment. Then they graduate from the program.

Michelle: So it’s not just employment skills. I think I’ve seen one of our previous success stories where it’s also communication skills and how building up self-esteem and those kind of things. So it’s not just employment skills, but it’s communication and getting people to actually learn personal skills like how to work with other people and how to engage with customers in the stores. So it’s not just employment.

Alicia: Yeah

Junior: And I want to also add that we’ve had, um, participants who have also became job coaches now. 

Michelle: Well that’s very cool.

Junior: So they like build those skills, like you mentioned, working with people, working with themselves, that discipline showing up on time, punctuation, and then they just come and say, I want to be a job coach. And so they applied for the position and I love this is why I’m a fan of Goodwill. This is going back to that question, why Goodwill. We give them an opportunity. Second chances.

Alicia: So they get help from the program and then in turn they turn around and help other people?

Junior: Yes. And it goes back to Goodwill, how like we truly have the power to change. And if a participant wants a change, they’ll change. If they don’t want to change and they’re more stuck on something that we need to work on. But I’m a firm believer, human beings have the power to change. It’s up to them if they want or not.

Michelle: It’s their story. It’s how we’re just we’re just along the path. We’re just one little tiny part of the story, and we’re just here, you know, everybody’s story, everybody’s path is different. Just because maybe there’s a setback. It doesn’t mean that they’re not successful. We use the word success story, but everybody’s story is different, and success is measured differently for every single person.

Junior: Sometimes I have participants come in there and they’re hard on themselves, and I understand they like feel like when they fail they’ve had a lot of turnover rates of caseworkers. So sometimes they take it personal and so I always explain to them, like sometimes with success, you need to fail to truly value success, because in failure, you’ll see what you need to work on.

And so I kind of try and encourage them that way by providing that motivation, interviewing. And sometimes it clicks, sometimes it’s a trial and error. They have to continue answering. But I always encourage them not to be too hard on themselves. I feel like with WFS, we have a really good relationship with our retail side. Retail supports our participants a lot, and I know there’s a lot of retail workers go out of their own way to ensure that our participants are very included into this culture of goodwill.

So it’s not always just the job coaches helping out the participants but sometimes they make friends. And once you create that environment where they feel more at home and even the family culture, they feel more included in a sense, more happy.

Michelle: Wow

Alicia: Well, that’s pretty good. 

Michelle: Pretty good. That’s a great segway into our next question. Are there any positions open on your team?

Junior: We’re currently searching for a job coach and also a program assistant specialist. It’s currently it’s called an employment specialist lead. But we’re going to be changing it to program specialists.

Alicia: Where is that going to be?

Junior: Job coaches are going to be in northern Idaho, Ponderay and the Program Specialist it’s going to be overseeing all three programs.

Michelle: So where are they going to be based out? Is it going to be out of the Posts Falls store? 

Junior: Program Specialist is going to be based more out of Post Falls, and then the Job Coach is going to be based in Ponderay. 

Alicia: To wrap up all that goodness. Here’s what we learned from Junior today.

Junior: My name is Junior and the one thing I want everyone to get out of the employment program is that we provide an opportunity for a lot of participants that have had barriers in their lives to be inclusive with the community. You can find us at the Goodwill website. You can also find us at our own Post Falls headquarters, and you can also find us on social media outlets like LinkedIn and Facebook.

Michelle: And plug to 130 East Third Avenue. If you’re on the Washington side. You can connect with our Washington employment team as well. 

At the beginning of the episode, we talked about donations and items sold in our stores. 

Alicia: Yeah, we did. For some people, shopping secondhand is something that is part of their everyday lives, but for others, that’s something they might not have ever thought about before. This month is Secondhand September.

Michelle: Secondhand September was created by Oxfam, a British organization that focuses on alleviating global poverty. 

Alicia: Oxfam started the pledge to make fashion lovers rethink the month that’s usually associated with Fashion Week and shopping for a new season as fall begins. So instead, the charity urges shoppers to say no to new clothes for 30 days to reduce our impact on the planet.

Michelle: Making the choice to second-hand shop for not only clothing, but also household goods all year long is something that we believe here at Goodwill. Not only can you explore new styles, that supports our employment programs, but it also helps keep items out of the landfills. 

Alicia: So we sat down with our second-hand shopping guru, Rachel. You can find her social media tags in the description below. And she talked with us about second-hand September. 

Michelle: Let’s take a listen.

(music begins) 

Rachel: My name is Rachel and I grew up in Spokane. I am now from New York City. I moved there when I was 25. And I’m back to talk about how much I love second-hand shopping and how it all started here in the Spokane, Goodwill. So you guys know that it’s always second-hand September for me and it’s always second-hand September at Goodwill. But for you, you should come to Goodwill and check out second-hand September.

 I think initially I got into second-hand shopping because I was really fascinated with vintage styles. There were a lot of styles that I really loved growing up from the sixties and the eighties that you couldn’t just find in an average store. And so going to Goodwill was like treasure hunting for those items.

As I’ve gotten older, it’s become more important to me to be a good steward of the Earth. And one of the best ways you can do that is by wearing what you own and shopping for things that are second-hand so that you’re not contributing to the demand for new goods. I would say that at this point, probably 80% of my closet is secondhand.

I don’t really shop new anymore. I haven’t for the last few years, except for things like underwear and stuff that you do have to replace every now and then. When I think about creating a wardrobe, if I’m looking for like a certain style or something that I want to replicate, I start with maybe thinking about a color palette, like what sorts of colors are showing up that would be nice to coordinate together.

I might look for inspiration in pop culture. I do a lot of like character dressing where I think, you know, I really like the vibe of this person. And then I study the pieces, like what individually are they wearing? Do they have a leather jacket? Would they wear denim or silk? Do they have florals? Prints, other kinds of elements that you can sort of seek out when you’re thrifting. And then I would say that I would build a list of the top maybe ten items that would sort of define that character most broadly and go and seek those items and slowly build out the wardrobe from there. 

Well, I definitely don’t have any boundaries in terms of where I shop within the store. I think it’s important to just try on everything and anything that catches your eye, whether that’s in a different gendered section, a different age section, or in the Home Goods section, you never know what you’ll find anywhere.

My name is Rachel. I can be followed at @Inspirsession on Instagram. That’s inspiration and obsession combined. And I also have a blog that I’m sort of reviving at www.inspirsession.com.

(music fades) 

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) 

Junior: A guy goes to his doctor because he can see into the future. The doctor ask him, How long have you suffered from that condition? The guy tells him, since next Monday. 

(group laughter) 

(sound fades)

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