From Breakdown to Breakthrough

In 1973, Rickie Parker was involved in a motorcycle accident that left him with a life-changing physical disability. “My left leg and arm were amputated and I knew it was going to be tough,” Parker says.

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His road to recovery began with regular visits to his local Vocational Rehabilitation Agency (VR). Though he had regular appointments scheduled, Parker struggled to attend them consistently. “I was a disappearing act for a while. I wanted to work again. I love working, but employers saw me as limited,” he says. Faced with doubt and lack of confidence, Parker hit a low point in his life.

“I became homeless and knew I needed to make a change,” Parker says. With the courage to turn his life around, Parker was referred by his VR counselor to Goodwill of North Georgia’s Workforce Development Program, offered at the organization’s Cartersville career center. While enrolled in the program, Parker learned various skills that aided his re-entry into the workforce. He worked in Goodwill’s Cartersville store where his skill level and work ethic were evaluated. Throughout this process, he regained his confidence, rebuilt his stamina and strengthened his communication skills. “I remember thinking, I can really do this,” he says. Parker secured employment as a Garden Center Attendant at Home Depot, where he enjoys greeting people, tending to the plants and simply going to work each day.

From a life-changing accident to a life-changing experience, Parker found hope in himself again. “I couldn’t have done it without Goodwill,” he says. “They believed in me, counseled me and went the extra mile for me.” Less than a year ago, Parker believed he would not be able to work again. With help from Goodwill, he broke through barriers and landed his life on the right track.

After successfully completing the Workforce Development program in 2017, Parker was invited to speak at his graduation ceremony as an inspiration to his fellow graduates. “Being able to speak at the graduation ceremony and look at all of the graduates was an experience I will never forget,” he says. Now a role model for job seekers, a graduate and a homeowner Parker knows the sweetest success comes after the greatest defeat.

Call it a Comeback

Success Story Template (5)Some of Brian Bennett’s past mistakes were the only thing standing in the way of him finding work. He has a criminal background, and needed a company willing to look beyond his record to allow him the chance to prove himself. As he searched for ways to start the next chapter in his life, Bennett heard about Goodwill of North Georgia’s Welding program.

While enrolled in the program Bennett’s training was two-fold. He gained hands-on training at CSX Railroad Education and Development Institute, completing nearly 100 hours of welding training. Through the program Goodwill staff also helped him refine his job readiness skills, such as how to address gaps in his employment history on a résumé. Upon completion of the program there was no question that Bennett was a desirable job applicant, criminal record or not.

Now a pipe cutter at Cobb Industrial, he has proven himself time and time again as a stand-out employee. Bennett operates a forklift and industrial equipment with ease. He shows up on time every morning and he stays until each job is complete and completed correctly. “Brian is a great employee,” says Mike Hrib, president of Cobb Industrial. “He’s doing very well and he has a good attitude.” Constantly learning on the job and looking for new ways to help the company, Bennett is eager to contribute and to make up for lost time.

Bennett’s workplace successes have translated into areas outside of his new job, too. He shared with Goodwill staff that his new job helped him and his family have one of the best holiday seasons they have ever experienced. “I cannot thank Goodwill enough,” says Bennett. “I knew that I had to make a change in my life to get where I wanted to be, and it all started with Goodwill.” Prepared to work hard, stay focused and seek out a strong support network, he is a perfect example of the resounding impact of a second chance.

Goodwill Welding Program Featured in The Gainesville Times

Vickie Huff is a Welding program graduate and a welder for Atlanta Rod and Manufacturing.

One of our newest training programs – our Welding program – was recently featured in The Gainesville Times. Made possible by support from WorkSource Georgia Mountains, Arrendale Transitional Center, Hall County Transitional Center, Phillips Transitional Center, and area technical colleges, including North Georgia Technical College and Lanier Technical College, the program equips job seekers with the skills and certifications they need to forge new careers in the welding industry. Learn more about how the program even supports ex-offenders, like Vickie, as they pursue a second chance and a better life: http://www.gainesvilletimes.com/section/6/article/122242/.

 

Meet Jackie: The Go-To Gal

Jackie Proctor is a natural born leader who has a curiosity for change and an eagerness to grow. That motivation and leadership hasn’t slowed down since the day she walked into the Oakwood Store two years ago looking for a job. Since joining the team as a store associate, Proctor has been the go-to person for customers and her co-workers. “Everyone comes to me with questions and I really enjoy helping people,” she says.

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Her willingness to help others and dedication to working hard sparked her interest in becoming a team lead. “I really love it here, it’s one of the best jobs I’ve ever had. I especially like the people I work with and the customers I get to meet,” she says. Taking on more responsibility, putting her best self forward, providing excellent customer service and helping her co-workers are just a few ways Proctor exemplifies what it means to be a leader.

From store associate to team lead to hopes of one day earning an assistant store manager position, Proctor is determined to continue advancing her career, as well as her individual goals. Through her experiences, Proctor credits the development of her leadership and customer service skills to Goodwill.

Job Tip of the Week from The Good Works Show

This week’s job tip on The Good Works Show came from Summer Dunham, Director of Public Relations at Goodwill of North Georgia. From turning her childhood interests into a career, she provided a job tip that has helped her build a career while doing what she is passionate about.

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“Think about something that you like, and find a way to do it as a job,” she said. “When I was little, I liked talking to anybody that would listen. I looked at careers that involved talking to people, and here I am doing public relations in the great state of Georgia, for an organization with a mission I really believe in. Think of what you like, and find a way to get paid for it.”

To listen to the full show, click here and don’t forget to tune in at noon on Saturday for a new episode of The Good Works Show!

Resolve to be Successful at Work

ResolveJohn Maxwell once said, “You’ll never change your life until you change something you do daily. The secret of your success is found in your daily routine.” Each year 45-percent of Americans set resolutions for the new year. Of this 45-percent, only 8-percent are successful in achieving their resolution. To make 2017 your most successful one yet, consider these simple and achievable workplace resolutions to add to your routine, along with tips for maintaining them.

1. Listen and communicate effectively. Being an effective communicator begins with listening. This year, try to not leave people waiting for answers. Keep your coworkers updated, thank them if they’ve helped you and don’t be afraid to ask questions when needed.

2. Stretch yourself to grow. Start with asking yourself, “How can I go above and beyond?” Stepping out of your work comfort zone will allow you to expand your knowledge, as well as your experience.

3. Get fit. After a season full of cookies and holiday parties, it’s no surprise that getting fit is one of the most common resolutions. Getting fit is not only beneficial for your health, it is also helpful in creating success in the workplace. Adding simple activities to your routine, such as going for a 20-minute walk, will increase your likelihood of living a healthy lifestyle and sticking to this resolution. Don’t forget, a healthy body creates a healthy mind.

4. Maintain a healthy work-life balance. With technology allowing workers to stay in constant communication with work, this resolution may seem almost impossible. But all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy. Remember to reward your hard work with some well-deserved play. Drawing clear lines and sticking to them may even help you stay sharper while on the job and help you resolve workplace issues more efficiently.

Meet Deborah

Deborah Howell’s dedication to working hard began when she landed her first job at only 15 years of age. She was interested in technology, which led to a career in the electronics industry. “I like working in electronics because I like to see a product out in the world and think, ‘I worked on that. I did that,’” she says. However, due to rapid changes in technology, Howell’s position with that company was eliminated and after more than 20 years of employment and she found herself looking for work.

Though her career was changing, her passion for technology remained constant. Howell knew she needed appropriate credentials if she wanted to continue advancing her career. With no college degree, Howell looked to Goodwill to assist in her career development. In 2014 she was one of the participants in the first soldering program ever offered at Goodwill of North Georgia.

While enrolled in the program Howell received hands-on soldering training. She also learned how to build a résumé and how to prepare for an interview. “The training and certification from Goodwill helped me get the job I have today and has allowed me to stand out,” she says.

Deborah Howell is all smiles as she works on assembling an electronic piece at L3 Technologies.

For two years now, Howell has worked as an Electronic Assembler for L3 Technologies. Not only is she an assembler, but she is also an advocate for Goodwill’s mission. “When I started at L3 Technologies, they wanted to know where I got my training,” she says. “I told them Goodwill and since then five additional Goodwill program graduates have started their careers here.”

Howell is a true testament to the Goodwill mission. “Whenever I hear that people are cleaning out their closet, I tell them to go to Goodwill,” she says. “I wouldn’t have a job if it wasn’t for Goodwill.”

I Got the Interview. Now What?

I got the interview. Now what?

– Submitted by Ben Pitts, Career Coach for Goodwill of North Georgia

Out of a stack of who knows how many résumés, yours was chosen as a potential fit for the job. You received the call. You remained calm while scheduling the date and time, and then did a little happy dance after you hung up. You know you are a good fit for the job. All you have to do is tell them why. Simple, right? But what will they ask? How should you respond? How should you dress? Job interviews involve a number of different choices, each sending a different message to the employer. Luckily, Career Connector – an online job search resource – is here with tips and information to help you enter the interview room prepared to impress.

When I was a Career Coach at the East Athens Career Center, interviews was the topic that seemed to stress job seekers the most. They had past interviews where they did not know how to prepare. So they entered the interview room unsure and unconfident. But a simple trick showed them how to prepare for the interview, which boosted their confidence and enthusiasm for the interview, which increased their chances for success. Several job seekers came back to tell me about their experience. So what is the trick?

The trick is that you already know what the interviewer is going to ask. No, I don’t have a cheat sheet for you. The company already gave you one. It’s right there in the job description. All of the qualities and experience the company needs is right there. All you need to do is go through the job description:

  1. Turn the desired skills/qualifications and responsibilities statements into questions.
  2. Practice how you will answer those questions.

For example, “Plan the production schedule for the build cycle” becomes “Are you familiar with or do you have experience in production scheduling?” Or, “Proficient Computer Skills” becomes “What computer systems and software are you familiar with?”

How you answer the questions will set you apart from other candidates. Simply answering that you have production scheduling experience is good, but telling a story about a time you overcame an obstacle while scheduling or how you improved scheduling procedures at your previous company is even better. For each question, try to recall an event where your actions demonstrate the answer.

Don’t worry if you are unable to do this for all of the questions or even answer all of the questions. Just like with other tests, you do not need to score 100% to make the grade or get the job.

For additional tips on interviews, check out Career Connector’s “Interviews” topic and “Interview Questions” article at www.careerconnector.org

Click the link below for a printable version of the latest blog post from Career Connector, powered by Goodwill®.

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Leadership Tip from Elisa Buckner, Summerhill Community Ministries

never give upLeading an organization (or department, or project at work) can be hard, tiring work. But, according to Elisa Buckner, Board Member of Atlanta’s Summerhill Community Ministries, it’s important to stay strong and focused, and get through the task at hand, no matter what.

“Never give up,” she said. “There are definitely times when the funding might not be there, or challenges might come up and you feel overwhelmed, but don’t give up. When you are working with people and you are working with real, live beings, you want to keep encouraging, keep teaching, and keep giving positive alternatives to what may be a very dark situation that they are in.”

As a leader, how can you inspire others (and yourself) to keep going with the work gets tough?

  1. Break it down. Sometimes work can be overwhelming. Take the project or work one step at a time, setting smaller, achievable goals and benchmarks. Focus on the smaller pieces that will eventually make up the whole puzzle.
  2. Stop to smell the roses. Or, to take a walk. Or, to have dinner with a friend. Encourage staff to take time for themselves. If the work is hard and stressful, they will need some moments to recharge and refresh, and come back ready to try again.
  3. Celebrate small wins. Motivate the team by recognizing accomplishments along the way.
  4. Show them the bigger picture. The project at hand may cause some long hours and sleepless nights, but it’s all part of the larger mission. Accomplishing the task will set the organization up for success.