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.

Brightening up Hamilton Mill

If you have visited the Hamilton Mill store within the last three years, you may have seen Chandell Wiley arranging the merchandise, sorting through donations in production, or sharing a laugh with customers on the store floor. Wiley, who is originally from Florida, moved to Georgia three and a half years ago. With three children to support, finding a job held the highest priority during her transition.

“Goodwill was the first job I applied to once I moved here and I’ve been here ever since,” she says. Wiley’s hard work and motivation don’t go unnoticed. As a previous winner of the store’s employee of the month award and a top prospect for team lead, she hopes to continue growing and moving up within the organization. “I am in the process of becoming a team lead now, but want to continue to progress in the company and maybe one day hold an assistant manager position,” she says.

Wiley’s outgoing personality mixed with the determination to achieve her goals contributes to her success in any position within the store. “I pretty much work in every position,” she says. “I’ll step in where ever I’m needed.” Adapt­ability and great service make Wiley one of store customers’ favorite employees. “I really enjoy having conversations with the customers. I get to meet people from all over. Some of our regular shoppers come in and look forward to seeing me. That’s one of my favorite things about working here,” Wiley explains.

In addition to working full-time at the Hamilton Mill store, Wiley is also a full-time mother. Wiley says, “I enjoy being a parent and teaching them.” Whether she’s cooking dinner for her children every night, spending time with them at Chuck E. Cheese’s or taking them to the movies, Wiley’s children are her biggest source of motivation. “Making a way for my kids to be better than I am and leading them by example is what motivates me,” she says.Soccer in the Streets (19)

For the more distant future, Wiley looks to pursue a career as a dental assistant. “I have always wanted to work in the medical field,” she says. While working at Goodwill, Wiley has been able to go to school, allowing her to get one step closer to achieving her dream.

As a stepping stone to her successes, Wiley’s career at Goodwill has been a learning experience. “Communication is always the key,” she says. “Seeing all kinds of different people and never knowing what kind of day they’re having, but still having a conversation with them is something I’ve learned through Goodwill,” Wiley adds.

While her personal and career successes are continuing to grow, her outgoing disposition will continue to shine a light to those around her.

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!

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.

Leadership Tip from The Good Works Show

Howard Lubert, Managing Director of the Rowan Innovation Venture Fund, joined The Good Works Show to talk about Rowan’s investment initiatives, but also left listeners with a leadership tip.

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“Smart investors invest in jockeys, not horses,” he said. “We are looking for leaders who generate the kind of strength and charisma and trust that make us want to write checks. It’s not about the cure for cancer, and it’s not about the key fob that finds your keys. It’s about the guy who can gather the troops and make things happen and generate that loyalty and trust.”

But how does an effective leader build loyalty and trust? Here are a few tips to get you started.

Encourage open communication. Allow your staff and team to speak freely about their work and their ideas. Let them know their opinions are valid and valued.

Collaboration is key. Each part of the team plays a key role in the work. Remind them that working together is critical to success. This will help form bonds and connections within the organization.

Invest in your employees. Let your team know their professional development is a top priority. The organization is only as strong as each individual member, so ensuring each employee both maintains their skills and grows in their position.

Don’t micromanage. Trust that you have put together a strong team. By giving them some freedom to do their work, you’ll show your staff you have faith in their abilities and competencies.

Promote a positive work culture. Recognize the efforts of your team, and applaud jobs well done. Show your staff you appreciate the time they put into their work, and that the organization couldn’t succeed without them.

Hear more from Howard Lupert on the Healthcare Angels podcast of The Good Works Show at http://goodwillng.org/goodworks.

Leadership Tip from Chelsea Manning of Philanthropitch

In her role evaluating worthy organizations for Philanthropitch, Chelsea Manning has worked with nonprofit leaders from all over the country. In addition to funding ideas that are making a difference, the Philanthropitch program loves to support organizations with innovative and forward-thinking leaders. She also looks for a little humility from these leaders.

“Honesty and transparency are what we look for when we are talking to nonprofit leaders—someone who can honestly say ‘We don’t quite know what we are doing in this area, so we know we need help here, but we know we have a really good idea.’”

So as a leader, why are honesty and transparency so important?

1. Honesty and transparency creates trust. Employees want to know they are in the loop, and aren’t being kept in the dark. This trust helps promote a sense of stability in the workplace, and ultimately encourages loyalty among the staff.

2. Teamwork is enhanced. Transparency and honesty allows for leaders and staff members alike to show and discuss their strengths, demonstrating how each can best contribute to the work.

3. Problems are solved more quickly. Lack of honesty and transparency often causes a communication breakdown or barrier. When leaders and staff are encouraged to talk about what they need, they become better able to resolve any issues that arise within a project or the workplace.

4. Creativity thrives. An open and honest workplace lets employees feel supported to do their best work, and allows them to be more engaged.

5. Respect is earned. Honesty and transparency keeps leaders authentic. Employees can respect a boss that can both lead by example, and also be willing to admit that they don’t have all the answers.

Job Tip: Update Your Résumé

“Résumés. It’s really important to make sure your résumé is up-to-date and has the current information – including your valid email address – so that employers are able to contact you in the event they are interested in looking at you for potential employment. So please, please, please make sure that your résumés are up-to-date.”

– Heather Morrison, lead facilitator at Goodwill of North Georgia’s East Athens career center

For more job tips like Heather’s, tune in weekly to The Good Works Show or check out the podcasts at https://soundcloud.com/thegoodworksshow/northern-star-cobb-works-032616.

Spring Spotlight: Youth Employment

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We’re hoping to put a spring in the step of youth ages 16 to 24 looking for their first job or a new one. Here’s a look at youth-focused job fairs and employment workshops at Goodwill career centers throughout North Georgia this Spring.

March 25

Youth Job Fair Workshop in Stockbridge

March 26

Youth Job Fair in Stockbridge

April 5

Youth Job Fair in Woodstock

April 7

Youth Job Fair in Decatur

For more information on career center events for all job seekers (youth and older) check out our career center calendars. With 11 local centers that are free and open to the public, Goodwill career centers are great resources for taking the next step in your career.