Protecting Georgians’ Rights

With 1.7 million members nationwide, and affiliates in every state, the ACLU has been a pillar of Constitutional preservation for nearly 100 years.

Working to ensure that all people are awarded the civil liberties spelled out in the Constitution, the group seeks equal treatment under the law, freedom of speech and religion, and the right to privacy.

Locally, the ACLU of Georgia is monitoring and lobbying 132 pieces of legislation, and keep a strong focus on issues pertaining to free speech and protest rights, the school-to-prison pipeline, and statewide voting rights.

Through litigation, community engagement, and lobbying, the group pursues these goals to protect the people of Georgia and beyond.

Although started in 1920, the group still faces some misconceptions about its work, namely that it is a partisan or political-affiliated organization.

“We only ask our staff and members for a commitment to defend the Constitution,” said Chris Bruce, Chief Lobbyist and Policy Council for the ACLU of Georgia. “I am here to let you know that we are completely 100% non-partisan.”

Originally founded to combat civil liberty violations after WWI, the ACLU has continued its work, defending a broad spectrum of Constitutional rights, including racial injustice, as in the 1967 Loving case.

“The ACLU’s commitment to civil liberties and the Constitution has remained consistent over the years, but as we know, the surrounding political environment and technological advancements have raised the importance of certain civil liberties,” Bruce said.

This changing environment and technological advancements are ever-apparent in a post-9/11 world, where the right to privacy is increasingly salient. Current work of the ACLU includes computer hacking legislation and ensuring safe security systems.

“In 1920, nobody thought about computers,” Bruce said. “But it is something that we have taken on because you have a right to privacy, no matter what age or era.”

The state-affiliate is also focused on the 90,000 people incarcerated in Georgia, with 2/3’s of them not convicted of any crime, but held because they can’t afford to pay bail. And, in the current political environment, the ACLU of Georgia is educating individuals on their rights to legal and peaceful protests. Informing people of their limitations and reasons a protest could get preemptively shut down ensure successful demonstrations of free speech.

“We do not go in alone,” he said. “We work with a lot of other organizations and community partners to make sure that legislation and the people are heard.”

Along with the cash bail bill and work on voting rules, the ACLU of Georgia is also focused on LGBTQ rights, and a Mobile Justice app, with which citizens can record and submit incidents of over-policing, racial profiling, or examples of excessive force.

For more information on their current initiatives, visit www.acluga.org.

Celebrating and cultivating established and emerging artists

For three decades, the National Black Arts Festival has advanced the arts and contributions for artists of African descent. With a long legacy of a lively and entertaining festival that features multiple art disciplines, the organization has showcased new and well-known talent for 30 years.

Every year, the Festival brings to life artistic endeavors in music, dance, film, visual arts, theatre, and literary works. Held in Atlanta, but celebrated throughout the art community, the festival is known as the oldest multidisciplinary arts organization in the United States.

Bringing opportunities for artists to showcase and perform in front of a large audience, the Festival has helped many-a-new artist gain popularity. The Festival has grown bigger and bigger each year, bringing in notable artists across the genres. Maya Angelou has been featured during literary events, The Temptations during music, and even Sydney Poitier during film.

“We have a long, deep history of showcasing major performing talent, literary talent, and launching the careers of many visual artists of African descent,” said Vikki Morrow, CEO of the National Black Arts Festival (NBAF).May(2) (9)

“In this 30th Anniversary year we want to pivot, and to figure out how we use this wonderful brand and wonderful legacy to uplift the next generation of artists,” she added.

The events this year will allow emerging artists to receive recognition, and hopefully more work. NBAF collaborates with local organizations to further promote artists, holding a jazz event the second week of September with the High Museum and a Celebration of NBAF event. With the Atlanta Beltline, they will hold a “Second Line of the Beltline” performance the last Saturday in September. At the Chastain, their “30 Years of NBAF” will run from mid-September through mid-October.

The NBAF has also increased and enhanced their educational partnerships. “For the first time, NBAF is doing direct-service in Atlanta Public Schools,” Morrow said. “We are going into underserved areas (Title I schools) and creating arts programs to inspire the next generation of artists.”

This new partnership will create opportunities for kids to express themselves artistically. The MOVE Dance component works with three area middle schools to teach kids dance across disciplines: tap, modern, jazz, ballet, and hip-hop. In addition to learning the trade, they also get the added bonus of health and fitness. In two high school, the NBAF if working on a donor-funded program focusing on visual arts, film & media, and fashion design.

“The kids love it, and when it culminates into a final performance, and they see everything put together, they are over the moon and very proud and feel a real sense of accomplishment,” Morrow said.

One of their biggest collaborations throughout the year takes place for the Fine Art and Fashion Event, in partnership with Neiman Marcus. Held every March, a top-buyer from the store comes in and produces a show. The event also features a chance for local design students to design clothes, have them modeled, and then be scored by an impartial jury. Winners receive a monetary award and great exposure, including a week-long feature in a Neiman Marcus store window.

Up next, the NBAF is holding their annual gala. On July 14th at Flourish, co-chairs Roz Brewer (COO of Starbucks) and her husband John will be joined by Legendary Supporter award-winner Ingrid Saunders Jones, and featured-artists Radcliffe Bailey.

“It is going to be a night of dancing, music, and pheromonal people who come from all walks of life: business, entertainment, the arts industry,” Morrow said. “It is one not to be missed.”

Employer Feature: Scanfil

As in the days of film photography’s prominence, development is a critical part of the process in readying job seekers for competitive employment. Much like film is developed in darkrooms, Goodwill’s program participants develop their skills in a controlled environment before they are work-ready.  March (27)

Local employers are an essential factor in this process. Supporting job seeker development in a variety of ways, including temp-to-hire positions for Goodwill skills program graduates looking for their first job in a new field, employers provide Goodwill with competitive work environments for hands-on training. They also offer insight into what their hiring needs are and how Goodwill can help prepare job seekers to meet those needs.  

Scanfil is an international contract manufacturer and system supplier, as well as an employer partner that helps make Goodwill’s mission possible. In a rapidly changing technology industry, Scanfil needs their employees to be adaptable and dependable. Goodwill’s Electronics Assembly and Soldering program has helped create a pipeline of job-ready candidates for Scanfil, where the nonprofit’s program graduates have both the technical skills and the soft skills – such as keeping up in a fast-paced environment and communicating clearly with colleagues – they need to be successful on the job. “Some of the newer manufacturing lines that we have added to the business require a higher level of skill that we weren’t finding through our normal avenues of recruiting,” says Orlando Martinez, managing director for Scanfil. “Goodwill has been a great fit to meet that need. Not just the technical skills, but the soft skills that they are learning before they come into the workplace are a huge plus.”   

Many Goodwill program graduates have had the opportunity to earn a permanent spot on the Scanfil team following successful introductory periods on the various assembly and soldering stations. “We have had a great success rate with the candidates that were brought in and have hired several as permanent employees,” says Martinez. A growing company in an in-demand industry, Scanfil adds value to Goodwill by offering its program graduates positions with high starting wages and career advancement opportunities. The collaboration is a picture-perfect example of how talent development can make a lasting impact.  

Goodwill Week 2018 Schedule: May 6-12

From May 6 – 12, Goodwill organizations across the country will host a variety of events aimed at thanking those who support them and recognizing those they serve. Here is what’s in store for Goodwill of North Georgia:

Week Long Event
Each of our 13 career centers will host job fairs throughout the week. See the calendar below for locations.

Monday, May 7 – Thank You Notes
Career center visitors can tell us why they’re thankful for Goodwill by posting a thank you note in each location. There will also be a hashtag (#GoodwillWeekATL) for Facebook and Twitter followers who wish to share their message digitally.
Job Fairs: East Athens, Oakwood and Stockbridge* Career Centers

Tuesday, May 8 – Donor Appreciation Day
We love our donors. We will share a sweet treat with donors as they make a donation that makes our mission to put people to work possible.
Job Fairs: Cornelia, Smyrna and South DeKalb Career Centers

Wednesday, May 9 –  Shopper Appreciation Day
Shoppers will enjoy 25% off a purchase of $25 or more as a thank you for their support of
our mission.
Job Fairs: Duluth, Dawsonville, Northeast Plaza, Rome and Woodstock Career Centers

Thursday, May 10 –  Influencer Event
Join fashion blogger and thrifting expert Keren Charles at our Tucker store as she helps shoppers navigate our aisles to put together stylish looks for less.
Job Fairs: Cartersville and Decatur Career Centers

Friday, May 11 –  Employee Appreciation Day
All Goodwill employees will have a “sweet” celebration as a token of thanks for all they do to help put people to work!

* Note: The Stockbridge job fair will take place with the City of Stockbridge at Merle Manders Conference Center (111 Davis Rd, Stockbridge, GA 30281) from 10AM-2PM.

A Savory Solution

Nothing ignites passion in Orlena Stocks quite like food. For her, food is almost a universal language, whether she is discussing it, preparing it or enjoying it. “I love to cook because I learned it through my mom from the age of six,” she says. “When you cook, you have to cook with love, because your food tastes like how you feel.” Through cooking she is able to share her talents with others. It seems only fitting that, in some ways, food is what brought Stocks to Goodwill of North Georgia.

Referred to Goodwill’s Smyrna career center through the Department of Family and Child Services Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, commonly known as food stamps), Stocks was looking to fulfill the program’s work requirement. While in an information session at the career center she found that she could do more than that. Through Goodwill’s Hospitality program, Stocks realized she might finally be able to pursue her dream career of becoming a chef. “They didn’t look at it just as a job – they said a career,” she says of Goodwill’s staff. “[Goodwill’s program] would also assist me with job readiness skills and job placement after I completed the training.”April (2)

Before coming to Goodwill Stocks faced many setbacks in her life, including an abusive relationship and a run-in with the law. For a while she settled on working temporary positions at warehouses. Her heart wasn’t in those jobs, though, and health challenges started impacting her ability to accept those positions. The work wasn’t consistent either, which made it difficult to stay on top of paying the bills.

When Stocks enrolled in Goodwill’s Hospitality program she was ready for a major change. For six weeks she received hands-on training at a local hotel, learning to balance speed and quality in her work. She also worked with Goodwill’s staff on soft skills, such as how to interview for jobs and perfect her résumé. She excelled in the program.

After graduating from the program Stocks got a chef and prep cook position at SunTrust Park. “I work for the Braves stadium,” she smiles. “It’s a huge building and we feed thousands and thousands of people.” Finally, in a position to earn a living doing something she loves, Stocks speaks highly of Goodwill’s training program and its role in helping her realize her goal. She is gaining valuable experience every day and already has a vision for her future. Her next move: opening a restaurant of her own.

Forging a New Future

Australian Actress and Director Rachel Griffiths is quoted saying, “There’s nothing as exciting as a comeback – seeing someone with dreams, watching them fail, and then getting a second chance.” On Tyeisha Marshall’s eighth year of a 20-year sentence at Arrendale State Prison, she was ready for a comeback. But in order to take full advantage of her second chance she knew she would need a job, which would be difficult to land with a criminal background.

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Marshall was referred to Goodwill of North Georgia’s Welding program, a work-based learning program hosted in collaboration with North Georgia Technical College and sponsored by Georgia Mountains Regional Commission Workforce Development. The program is designed to equip participants like Marshall with industry-recognized welding skills along with soft skills, such as workplace etiquette.

“Everything about the program was surprising,” she says. “I learned that I like welding, which is something I never thought I would do. I wasn’t the type of girl who worked with power tools or did manual labor.” This changed as Marshall learned the ins and outs of welding, added new skills to her résumé and learned how to interview with an employer. Welding was more than a new skill; it was Marshall’s ticket to a comeback.

Upon graduation of the program Marshall was hired as a welder for Fanello Industries, Inc. Her co-workers helped show her the ropes, and she wields a welding gun with confidence. One thing she loves about her job is the family-like atmosphere – she says someone is always there to help her if she needs it and her colleagues are very friendly and supportive.

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Marshall is already planning her next career move, hoping to advance her welding techniques with additional courses at North Georgia Technical College. “I never thought I would do something like this because I’m kind of girly,” she laughs. “But I really like it here. This company rewards hard work and I’ve already earned a raise. I want to see how far I can go.” Crediting a combination of soft skills and technical skills for her new career path, Marshall is eager to take full advantage of her second chance. The embodiment of a comeback, she is embracing a new life and a promising career head-on.

Goodwill’s C3: combining college and career for long-term success

With a goal of assisting 50,000 individuals this year, and placing 24,000 in jobs, Goodwill of North Georgia has all hands on deck to help people find new or better employment.

One of the many ways they are getting the job done? C3: College Career Catalyst.

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Individuals enrolled in C3 enroll in a college or credential program while working with Goodwill to receive additional support and placement help. Working with Goodwill, they participate in skills and professional development trainings while also attending post-secondary courses.

Ashia Walker, one of C3’s Navigators (who help applicants with the program and college), said the work they do with the students is all-encompassing, ensuring success.

“Our job is to help any of our participants who are enrolled in programs with post-secondary education,” Walker said. “That includes helping them figure out where they want to go to school, what they want to study, and helping them get their applications done.”

Once they get into school, the assistance continues through the first semester, making sure they can navigate the campus and their classes. From there, after completing their educational program, Goodwill helps them get a job.

“It’s helping people not just find a job, but helping them find post-secondary education or credentials to help them further their career,” Walker said. This includes assistance for those looking to earn more money, get a promotion, or take on a leadership role.

Ideal candidates for the program are those who have gone through a training at Goodwill, or who are referred from one of the many Goodwill partner organizations. Those working with the C3 program often don’t have any family members who have gone through the college process, and need that extra help.

“They don’t even know where to start,” Walker said. “I’ve had students who actually paid for their FAFSA to be completed, not knowing it was a free application.”

Walker has worked with Goodwill for six years, and has encountered a lot of success stories during her time, including a young man who is now enrolled at Chattahoochee Technical College, with hopes of eventually transferring to Kennesaw State University to study marine biology.

Walker calls his parents once a month to check in on the student and his progress. “That makes me happy every month that he’s still in school,” she said. “It’s important to know that somebody cared and that he wasn’t just a number, and somebody is proud of him.”

The C3 program partners with a variety of local technical college partners, including Athens Technical College, Gwinnett Technical College, and North Georgia Technical College.

With 13 career centers and five dedicated navigators, those interested in working with the C3 program can essentially visit any location to be matched with assistance.  For additional information, please visit www.goodwillng.org/collegecareercatalyst.

Breaking Barriers

The United States Department of Labor defines a non-traditional career for women as one in which 25% or less of those employed in the field are women. Yashika Jones has been a part of that statistic for nearly 14 years. While living in Connecticut, Jones was employed by the Sheet Metal Union. Working in this industry can often times be demanding, with long hours and unpredictable weather conditions.

Success Story Template

“I wanted a change,” Jones says. “If I’m going to be working outside, I wanted to work outside somewhere where the climate is nice.” In between jobs, Jones saw an advertisement for a job fair at one of Goodwill of North Georgia’s career centers. “I was really interested in the training opportunities available,” she says.

Jones applied for funding and went through an interview process before successfully enrolling in Goodwill’s Highway Construction training program. As a participant in the program, Jones received hands-on skills training and job placement assistance. “When I had nowhere to turn, I learned so much with Goodwill and got some certifications under my belt to help expand my job opportunities,” she says. Upon graduating from the program, Jones received traffic control and OSHA construction certifications. She also secured employment with the local Sheet Metal Workers Union. Some of her projects have included the new Mercedes-Benz Stadium and Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta.

Working in a male dominated industry hasn’t always been easy for Jones. “It’s one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do,” she says. Over the years, Jones has proven her skillset and hard work ethic to her colleagues. “I’ve had to overcome being accepted for who I am. It’s been intimidating at times, but I’ve proven myself and showed that I am strong,” she says. Never letting her gender keep her from achieving her goals, Jones has remained motivated and hopes to continue advancing her career in the industry. She is currently pursuing another certification, EPA 608 Technician Certification, which would allow her to expand the type of projects she is qualified to work on. “I’m hoping to make myself more marketable, she says.

“Goodwill helped me find opportunities I wouldn’t have had otherwise,” she says. As an advocate for the program, Jones has referred many of her friends to Goodwill. “One of my greatest accomplishments is seeing my friends go through the program and come out successful,” Jones says. Crediting Goodwill for the opportunity to reenter the industry, she is now not only an advocate for Goodwill, but for women.

Yashika 2

The Art of Expression

In 2012, Olatoye “Toye” Olawoyin moved to the United States from Nigeria in search of opportunity. His mother dreamed of a better life for her children, but was unable to relocate to America herself. At only 17 years old, Olawoyin departed from his homeland with only a dream in his heart and two sisters by his side.

Residing in Duluth, Georgia was no coincidence for Olawoyin. His uncle, who already lived in Duluth, offered Olawoyin and his sisters a place to call home as they began this new chapter in their lives. Having a home away from home gave them the chance to be able to get a head start on taking advantage of their new opportunity. Olawoyin enrolled in school at Central Gwinnett High School, where he has now graduated from.

February 2018

Struggling with English as a second language and a hearing impairment, Olawoyin had a hard time transitioning to life in the United States and finding employment. He was referred to Goodwill’s Workforce Development program by his counselor at the Georgia Vocational Rehabilitation Office to get help finding a job that fit his skills and abilities. While in the program, he received hands-on training, which included on-the-job assessments for attendance, punctuality, quality of work and co-worker relations.

During these assessments, Olawoyin worked inside Goodwill’s Pleasant Hill store, processing and sorting donations. It wasn’t long before those evaluating him and working alongside him realized he was an incredibly hard worker. “Toye was a model participant while in the program. He was always on time and never missed a day of training. He always had a positive attitude and worked well with his supervisors, the other participants and the store associates,” says Job Coach Felicia Moran. In fact, store management was so impressed by his work ethic that Olawoyin secured full-time employment at the store as soon as he completed his program training.

For two years now, Olawoyin has worked hard in the store, determined to make his own way and provide for his family. He sends a portion of his weekly paycheck back to his family in Nigeria and doesn’t allow his hearing impairment to prevent him from succeeding. Though he is quiet and shy in nature, Olawoyin is also resilient and determined to succeed in everything he tries.

As a “floater” in the store, he is ready to step in wherever he is needed. Whether he’s processing donations in production or arranging merchandise neatly on shelves, he’s always smiling and giving a thumbs up. “I really like my job and I want to keep working,” he says. Looking towards the future, Olawoyin hopes to continue saving his money so that he can visit his mother in Africa and further pursue his dreams of becoming an artist.

EarthShare of Georgia: protecting the environment, one employee at a time

For EarthShare of Georgia, conservation is king. In an effort to protect the air, land, and water, the organization partners with 50 employers from across the state to raise money for environmental nonprofits.

Primarily through workplace giving, EarthShare of Georgia coordinates employee giving campaigns to support more than 60 environmental and conservation organizations. With 30 based in state, and the others nationwide, there is an organization for everyone.

The group started as the Environmental Fund for Georgia in 1992, and then affiliated with the national EarthShare in 2001. In their 25-year history, EarthShare of Georgia has helped raise $6 million for its member groups.

EarthShare of Georgia’s Executive Director Madeline Reamy called into the show first. EarthShare was founded 25 years ago by environmental nonprofits who wanted representation in workplace giving.

Currently, nearly 400,000 employees across the state participate in EarthShare’s giving program, and come from a variety of companies, including Booz Allen Hamilton, Emory University, and MARTA. Employees are able to pick from a slew of environmental nonprofits, like Georgia Conservancy, Trees Atlanta, and Park Pride.

The group remains en vogue, especially as the environment becomes more and more of a hot topic. Many are connecting the dots between the benefits of improving the environment and strengthening communities. This work can also connect companies to volunteer projects in underserved areas.

“That is a new area that we have gotten into that is very exciting, because it brings many more people to the table to have a conversation about the environment and the benefits of a sustainable Georgia,” said Madeline Reamy, Executive Director of EarthShare of Georgia.

Individuals are encouraged to give and volunteer, as it makes such a critical impact on the environment. “The bottom line is those contributions help to conserve land in Georgia, they help to improve air quality, they help to strengthen work and improving the quality of our water,” Reamy added.

EarthShare of Georgia

In addition to the opportunity for employee giving, companies partner with EarthShare for its countless opportunities for employee volunteer engagement. More and more companies are looking for year-round opportunities for their employees to engage and give back to the community.

For them, EarthShare offers a variety of options, including multiple events revolving around Earth Day. The annual holiday is typically used as an entry point for interested organizations, and they can take part in three separate events, including a Corporate Green Day, Earth Leadership Breakfast, and a closing party. Members also receive special invitations to corporate sustainability forums, access to the Green Chamber, and discounted tickets to the sustainability speaker series.

This year’s Earth Day Green Challenge will be held on March 30th and 31st, and the Earth Leadership Breakfast will take place on April 12. Sponsors get package deals to support the different events. This year, Lewis Perkins of Cradle to Cradle will act as the keynote speaker.

More information on EarthShare of Georgia, and how you can get involved, can be found at www.earthsharega.org.