Seattle. My true home. I grew up on my parent’s farm south of Olympia and have called Seattle my home since 1991. I moved away for a while to Chicago then Boulder, Colorado… but Seattle was always in my heart. I experienced the Grunge rush, lived the boom of Nordstrom and Starbucks and even co-owned an internet company in the 1990s (who DIDN’T?!) and with all these experiences I found that no other city rivals the Emerald Gem we have in our backyards!
Now that I work in the nonprofit world, that view of Seattle hasn’t changed for me. Seattle is still home to some of the greatest nonprofits we have in the WORLD! (Gates Foundation anybody?!) AND… we are blessed with one of the best Goodwill organizations (actually TWO of the best!) in the country as well… Seattle (and Tacoma)! Not only did I get a behind-the-scenes tour of the Tacoma Goodwill industries lately but I also got to visit my home city’s thrift GEM, the Seattle Goodwill http://www.seattlegoodwill.org/ last week!
I started off shopping in the main Seattle flagship store and ended up scoring some of the first RED TAG deals of my Valentines weekend! Then I met up with David Sandler, Media Relations/Communications Coordinator for the Seattle Goodwill. I was immediately at ease with David because he cracked out the camera and asked to take pictures of me shopping… two of my stronger qualities.
We went over to the Job Center and met with the manager, Janice Rapier the Seattle Job Training & Education Center Director, who took me through all the job training offerings the center has and some of the cool programs they offer like their youth program that takes 15-17 year olds, gives them a stipend, they work with a collaborating partner (like Seattle Parks and Rec) to get engaged in projects in THEIR community. Helping them to not only gain valuable life and career guidance but while getting paid to invest in their own environment! I -HEART- stuff like this! I had the normal teenage angst about the small farm community that I grew up in because I was chomping at the bit to get into the “real” world and make a name for myself. But let me tell you looking back as an adult, this kind of program that offers youth the ability to create a real sense of community by being engaged only helps establish pride in where they are from, and that is something they will carry with them forever. So why not make it a good one?! Our local Goodwill is helping do just that, helping establish pride in our city!
Or how about their success stories from people like Roseanne, “She immigrated to the United States from the Philippines seeking a brighter future, but her lack of confidence speaking English made it difficult to find work. The Retail and Customer Service Training Program at Shoreline Goodwill helped her become more outgoing while learning valuable jobs skills. Now she works two jobs to support herself here and help her four siblings in the Philippines, all while taking classes at Shoreline Community College.” This is one of many successes in our Emerald city that you can read about on their website at: http://www.seattlegoodwill.org/jobtraining/successstories .
Yes, the Seattle Goodwill is up to some fantastic work for our city and citizens! I will expand on their other programs in future postings… but back to the tour.
David and I then met up with some of the students of the Retail training program while they were working on their registers. It looked just like the check-out lines of the main store with shelves of items, students @ the registers, students browsing the shelves and taking baskets of goodies to be rung up. Coming from a past retail manager, the Goodwill’s 3 day register training was a blessing in disguise! No wonder they have over 50 businesses in the area coming to meet with these students (I mean prospective employees) because I never had 3 days of just register training at any of the larger retail businesses I worked for! A big smile came across my face… where were these thoughtfully trained employees when I needed them? I’m happy to see somebody’s gotten it right not only for the employer but also for the new employee!
From there David and I walked along the corridors of the training center, stopping to meet other staff members (like the Seattle Goodie-Room guy!) and ended our tour outside on a beautiful, sunny Seattle day. I again was amazed at all the programs and work that goes into our community from this one organization, all under the guise of a thrift-store! A thrift-store that helps make all this wonderful work possible! But even with all my excitement David saved another GEM for the last when he spoke about the development of a new building that would house their Job Training Programs and administrative offices on the corner of Rainier and Dearborn.
So besides the repairs and upgrades to the Seattle (Dearborn) retail facility lately like air conditioning, new flooring and lighting, and restroom improvements, now we get a new Goodwill beacon in our Emerald city! SWEET!
Our Goodwill GEMS are unlike any other and I for one will treat them like my other precious gems… I keep them close, take good care of them and I show off their SPARKLYNESS to the whole world!