S2E2: Love is in the Air

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: Well welcome back to another episode of What’s Good Goodwill. I’m Alicia. 

Michelle: And I’m Michelle. Tis the season of love and here at Goodwill we’re all about spreading it far and wide. 

Alicia: That’s right. So we wanted to hear from our team members about what they love about Goodwill. So we strapped on our marketing boots and went off on an adventure to visit our lovely individuals at E Commerce, Northwest Boulevard location, in the new SSVF location. Where is that again, Michelle? 

Michelle: You can find the new location at 505 East Third Avenue, almost within an arm’s reach of our administration building. So we with all good intentions, pestered those hardworking people to get some insight on what makes Goodwill great to them, what they love about their team and department, their achievements, and any success stories they could share. 

Alicia: We mostly wanted to hear about workplace shenanigans, too, because who doesn’t love that? So let’s take a listen. 

Tim M.: I am Tim. I work in the retail department. I am the manager of Northwest Boulevard. My favorite thing is working with the people. I get the blessing of working with an amazing staff and supervisors above me that are all about helping people. Giving them a hand up. I love the fact that it’s open and bright and our customers are super nice. And they I have a lot of regulars that come in and we know them by first names. It’s just a great place to be.  

Our greatest achievement here at Northwest Boulevard was winning store of the year in 2018. Store of the year is where all the all the stores in GIIN are rated and we came out as number one out of all 14 stores. 

I think one of the best times that we have here is our potlucks. Where we have a potluck. Everybody pitches in and brings in all their home cooked meals, and we get to sit around like a family, have a little extra lunch and just be able to celebrate our individuality as well as our family atmosphere. Here at Goodwill is an amazing place not only to work, but to support it. 

We are all about creating opportunities to help people and our communities. It’s just a great place to be. 

Toni L.: My name is Tony. I work at retail at Northwest BLVD. I love the people that I work with. I love the customers that come in. Of course, you. I also love that it’s a job where not only do I enjoy it, but it also helps other people and with our programs and such. I like having, if I’m going to spend time away from my house I like to be able to help other people while I’m doing it every day, something different. 

And I enjoy making things look pretty. And I like helping people. And when people get discounts and they’re happy and they leave the store happy, that makes me happy. 

Alicia: Oh, how lovely. Make sure to say hi to Tim and Tony when you stop by the Northwest Boulevard, Goodwill. 

Michelle: Alicia, where is that? 

Alicia: You find it right on Northwest Boulevard with the good. Well, I know it’s on Northwest Boulevard. What is it on the corner? Well, it’s it’s Ash and Northwest Boulevard, but then also Maple and Northwest. But it’s between Ash and Maple. 

Michelle: Next on the roster, the fabulous people at the new supportive services for Veterans Families location. 

Alicia: Where did you say that was again? 

Michelle: Just a stone’s throw from the administration building. 50, five East Third.  

Amber G: My name is Amber, and I work for the support of services for veterans. Family is also known as the SSP F Program. And I’m over at the new 505 building that Goodwill has been leasing out. I transferred from the human resources department. I worked with them for a year, and now I’ve been with SSVF for almost a year. 

I love all the people and specifically the SSVF team. It was a big deciding factor and switching departments was coming over here was the great people and coworkers that surround me. We have great team building activities and we’re just all really close and I’m thankful for the friendships. We do have a life sized Justin Bieber cardboard cut out that moves around the office. 

So sometimes you’ll just come up to your desk and Justin Bieber is still in there. So when you turn the lights on, it freaks out. So people really love moving. Justin Bieber between all the different cubes and offices, and it’s gotten some people pretty good. 

Tim: My name is Tim and I am with the Support Services for Veterans Families. Well, December 14th of 2021. When I started, I just finished my first anniversary. Overall, I think the mission of Goodwill is great because it provides services that go beyond just selling clothes out of the store. But we provide all kinds of services for veterans, for non-veterans, helping with employment or for folks who need work. 

And so there, there’s a host of things that Goodwill does that’s really beneficial to the community. What I really love about it is just the people I work with there. They’re just great from the very beginning everyone has always been very helpful helping me to learn. There’s never any question that, you know, somebody won’t help me with and it’s just providing guidance and so it’s just been a great environment. 

One of the fun things every Thursday morning, we have team meetings and we just have a little bullpen over there. That’s where we all meet. And we have a question that we ask every morning, would you rather do this or that? And it’s always fun. It creates a lot of laughs. And it also helps me to get to know other people and how they respond to questions because sometimes they’re there interesting questions. 

And so that’s one of the highlights of the week is just even though they’re often very silly, it’s just interesting how people respond to those one of them was would you rather go forward in time or backward in time? I just wanted to go forward in time because I want to see how it all goes. But because I kind of know what happened in the past. 

But it’s interesting how many people would rather go back in time. And so then they provide a rationale why they would do that. So it’s a way to get to know other people in ways that that you wouldn’t normally would think of. 

Corrine: My name is Corrine and I’m with the Support Services for Veterans Families, that’s SSVF and case manager I work to support veterans that are homeless or experiencing possible homelessness in the near future to support them to be able to obtain housing as well as connect them with other resources in the community or something I love about working for could well, is the direct connection I have with people in our community that are experiencing homelessness. 

I love being able to work directly with other people rather than just sitting behind the scenes. I like the actual connection and seeing in front of my face with being able to help other people. My favorite memory is honestly just being able to get people into homes and then seeing how grateful they are and sometimes people cry. Sometimes they can’t believe that they’re actually getting a boost from the community that has for them. 

They’ve been underserved or been put into a situation where they don’t feel like they they’re in a hopeless situation, I guess you could say. And so to be able to see something actually happening in their life for good and seeing that hope put it on their faces is just there’s nothing more memorable than that for me. 

Chris: My name is Chris and I am the Support Services for Veteran Families Program Manager. The biggest thing that I hear from not only my staff, but everyone that I kind of encounter in Goodwill is the culture and everyone being kind of this kind of family environment. Everyone’s super comfortable with each other. Everyone’s always willing to help, which is really nice. 

Coming in to a new place and not knowing a lot of people. Everyone’s super willing to leave off where they, what they were doing and help out. So that’s kind of my biggest thing. The thing I love about our program is its wide reach and our kind of a wide suite of things that we can do for the people that we serve. 

And so those are of course very particular to what the participant needs. And so we’re a housing first program where it needs space program, but we have a wide suite of services that we can do. And so that often allows us to be really creative with how we house folks and who we are talking to and being able to incentivize folks for working with us and incentivize participants for their hard work. 

And so that’s really unique to our program. And I feel like it builds independence quicker than a lot of other programs do. We’re being more efficient, we’re housing more folks, which at the end of day is the goal. And so that’s, that’s really awesome.  

We do have this weird tradition if you want to call it that. A cutout, a Life-Size cutout of Justin Bieber finds its way into folks as cubicles or offices unbeknownst to them, which is fun sometimes and and very scary some other times. So he is always with us here at SSVF. And it’s something that kind of keeps the morale up. And the culture is really fun. And we you know, we’re social workers, right? So it’s hard work. So our ability to kind of have fun with each other and kind of separate, you know, the hard work from the things that kind of keep us going is it’s really nice here. 

Alicia: Michelle, I got to be honest here and all these great things about other departments sounds very tempting to join. 

Michelle: How dare you? You’re on thin ice. 

Alicia: I’m always on thin ice. That’s how I know I’m doing a good job. 

Michelle: Right. Now let’s check in and see what our team members at e-commerce had to share. 

Dan: My name is Dan. I’ve been with Goodwill since 2013. My everything working at Goodwill is that everyone is open and very nonjudgmental and is flexible and seems to work within your limitations to help you get through whatever you need to get through with e-commerce. It is just seeing all the different items that come through every day that either maybe were forgotten or it’s never we’re able to be passed down or just people want to help help us out. So they’re okay with donating it.  

The most fascinating thing, not necessarily the most expensive though was someone had donated what I would assume to be their grandfather’s like steamer trunk and the top layer of it was all just his college books. He was like a plane mechanic, but underneath was all of his military stuff, and they obviously didn’t know that and he was a navigator in World War Two for a bomber.  

And it had all of his European navigational charts that you do by hand so that all of his hand notes on flying from the UK to Berlin on them. Some very fascinating maps. I hope they ended up in a museum, but I don’t know for sure.  

So what did Sarah we’re just we were just talking and she said she hated all of us, don’t know why. And that’s when it hit me, like it’s April Fools, today, how can I not take advantage of this sign? So I used my lunch break and went over to the grocery store and bought 20 cans of olives. And at the time she was a lister putting stuff up on ShopGoodwill. So she went on lunch and then I proceeded to hide all those throughout her whole basket and everything. 

And that’s where it started. That was the first year of the second year. We adopted a spider in her name because that was she hates spiders. And then I filled her desk with a thousand pieces of banana flavored laughing taffy. And then she also hates spoons. And so last year I covered her desk with 5000 spoons and made it a spoon garland. We just kind of filled every nook and cranny of her around her desk with spoons. 

I have a budget every year that I’m like, usually about the first of the year I start buying and segments, and so I’ll have to mail it to her this year because April Fools is on a Saturday, so I have to involve the Postal Service, but yes, I have it planned out already. 

Sarah: My name is Sarah. I am the e-commerce digital operations manager. I do quite a lot of different things with e-commerce. I oversee our jewelry program, overseer, designer, and authentication program. I do some of our social media and just kind of some general managerial duties. I will be here almost nine years in July. Something that I love about working for Goodwill is the amount of information that you obtain working here, especially in e-commerce, where we are listing such a wide range of different items there’s so much to learn about glassware, clothing, materials, all kinds of different things. I mean, fabrics, the list goes on and on and on. And that is my favorite thing.  

It was a typical Wednesday morning. I was sitting in my office checking up on emails, but I noticed my voicemail line was blinking. It was a message from a gentleman who claimed we were selling his guitar that was stolen from him 12 years prior. I gave him a call back, let him know we needed the appropriate paperwork to release the guitar to him. He agreed and arrived in our offices within an hour, so he was right on it. 

He actually lived locally and presented the filed police report. The original appraisal from 92 for guitar. It showed him in writing as the owner from the guitar maker himself, Jeffrey Elliot. Leon, then begin to explain the origin of the guitar, how it was originally intended for a famous musician who had passed it up. Actually, he claimed the guitar had a handwritten dedication along the interior, which it did, and was able to describe the wood materials. 

And there was like a mother of pearl inlay. From early on, it was very apparent that Leon was the intended owner. Once we handed him the guitar, he was overjoyed, claiming this to be a miracle. He never thought that he would be reunited, and he was continuously saying, God bless you. He was noticeably emotional and it was really quite special to witness. 

He made quite the impression on me. So once he left, I decided to do some research on Leon and I was very impressed with what I found. So he is a well-known classical guitarist in our community. He has played at renowned locations across the states, founded the guitar programs at many local universities, and he has his own show on Spokane Public Radio. You can also check out his YouTube channel, which features many of its concerts and musicianship.  

I have quite a few employees who take it upon themselves to prank me on April Fool’s Day, and it has become such an event that they now livestream my reaction. From what I understand, it takes months for them to plan. Dan even has a budget that he goes off air for it, and there’s been many different events for example, everyone knows that I am terrified of spiders. 

And so one year two of my employees sponsored an endangered spider in a country far away for me for April Fools Day. In my name, I think he was it 10,000 spoons that he bought. 10,000 plastic spoons. I have a weird I’m not saying it’s rational. A weird thing with spoons. I don’t love them. I don’t like to eat with them. 

I should say I’m not, like, offended by them. But I have I don’t like they’re not my utensil of choice. And so I made the mistake one time of mentioning that in passing, and they just gobbled that up. And so on April Fool’s Day, they completely decorated our entire office full of spoons. I also it’s also known that I don’t like bananas. 

I hate them. And one year Dan bought like it like thousands of banana fluffy toffees and put them in every drawer. I’ve changed my ways now, but at the time, I wasn’t a fan of black olives. And so, of course, these are like comments that I’ve said, like once and he at lunch that day, he went and bought like 20 cans of black olives and put them everywhere. And so it’s just been like year after year progressively getting worse. And so I’m just anticipating what’s going to happen next. 

Michelle: Well, what a story. How amazing to be part of that. Reunion with Leon and his guitar. 

Alicia: I hope he gave them a free concert. I was really on the edge of my seat, though, hearing about Dan’s commitment to pranking Sara and he’s definitely inspired me.  

Michelle: Careful. The thin ice is only getting thinner. 

Alicia: I like to live dangerously.  

Michelle: Of course you do.  

Alicia: Well, we’ve heard from some other departments but what about you, Michelle? What do you love about Goodwill? 

Michelle: Real talk. I mean, between you, me and anybody listening to this podcast?  

Alicia: Me. 

Michelle: I love the thrift shop. I love the joy of thrifting. Of finding secondhand treasures, of finding clothes that are vintage, used. Kind of one of a kind. Sometimes people don’t make the connection between our programs and our retail stores. It’s the only reason our retail stores exist is for our programs, supporting actual local people. 

If you haven’t seen our success stories, please go on our YouTube page, follow us on social media. These are not paid actors. Like, we don’t have the little blurb like commercials do with, you know, not a paid actor or paid actors. These are real local people, and success is measured in different ways, but you get to see, you know, local lives changed. 

And that happens when you find that cool thing inside a Goodwill store. How about you, Alisha, share the things you love about Goodwill? 

Alicia: Well, I haven’t been at Goodwill for very long, actually. I think I’m approaching my one year mark. The things that I love about Goodwill is how strong the camaraderie is as far as the company goes and the team members and everything. So. Same thing with, you know, this team in this department. It was immediately like, I fit in right away. 

Like I was that missing Tetris.  

Michelle: Yeah.  

Alicia: And it it’s just really nice to have a job that you love to go to. It’s you know, I don’t wake up every day be like, oh, god. I mean, I do. But that’s not because of work. It’s because I just don’t want to get out of bed. I love that. I love Goodwill. 

But also we are pretty privileged and I think we’re pretty lucky that we get to be those storytellers. And in my position particularly, I am the mission marketing specialist. So I get to I am given all of the stories that our case managers submit for the participants that want to share so we can get those stories out of the community. 

And it’s amazing to see, like when I get a story in writing and I’m trying to write the story, and then if I’m able to meet with the participants that the story is about how much more substance I get, and it’s just like sitting and hanging out with them and it just being able to have those connections with people is so rewarding. 

But it is a privilege. It’s really fun, it’s creative and it’s rewarding to seeing the different somebody’s life. You know how someone’s life has been changed, reading and or writing their story from the beginning. It’s just really nice that I get to be a part of an organization that gets to lend that helping hand. 

Michelle: What I love about Alicia’s work is I love Alicia as a photographer. I love seeing our success stories through Alicia’s lens, through her lens, through videos, and it’s just you lend your voice and your skills and your talent and celebrate our success stories.  

Alicia: Thank you so much.  

Michelle: You’re still on thin ice, but, you know. 

Alicia: Fair enough. 

Michelle: Well, that’s our episode for this month. We want to thank everyone for sharing what’s good with us. 

Alicia: But the good doesn’t have to stop. So if you have some good that you want to be featured on our next episode, send it to MCC@giin.org.  

Michelle: Can you give that to me one more time? 

Alicia: I said that’s MCC@giin.org.  

Michelle: That’s right. You can also send us photos to show us what team bonding activities or 

Alicia: Pranks because we want you to show us the shenanigans. 

Michelle: And team members you want to be highlighted or success stories you want to be shared. 

Alicia: Thanks so much for joining us and we’ll see you next time.

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) 

Michelle: Hey, Alisha.  

Alicia: What’s up?  

Michelle: What did the one wall say to the other?  

Alicia: What? 

Michelle: I’ll meet you at the corner. 

(sad trombone noise)

(music fades) 

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