Ambassador Spring 2016

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Ambassador SPRING 2016



Ambassador SPRING 2016

President and CEO Matthew S. Bourlakas










15K IN JOBS IN 2015

10 14





18 19









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Karl Houston Senior Director of Marketing & Community Relations

Writer & Editor

Chris Fletcher PR & Communications Manager

Art Director

EJ Kerr Manager of Creative Services

Ambassador is a quarterly magazine published by Goodwill Industries of Middle Tennessee, Inc., 1015 Herman Street, Nashville, TN 37208. For the nearest retail store, donation center, or Career Solutions center, please call 800.545.9231 or visit Ambassador provides readers with stories of the events, activities and people who support the mission of Goodwill Industries of Middle Tennessee. We are pleased to provide you this information and hope you will share our publication with others. Please note that the opinions expressed in Ambassador do not necessarily reflect the opinions or official position of management or employees of Goodwill Industries of Middle Tennessee, Inc.

THE GOODWILL MISSION: Changing lives through education, training and employment.



gotit at

Goodwill GREAT FINDS AND DEALS FROM GOODWILL SHOPPERS Do you have some fabulous finds in your home or closet that you purchased at Goodwill? Share them with us on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter, and we might feature them in our next edition!

Mercedes wrote: "Every princess has to have her studio! Thanks Goodwill! $6 total! "

BougieThrifter wrote: "Definitely obsessed with this like new Lauren by Ralph Lauren houndstooth business tote. Scored for only $6.99"

Post your great finds:


Jessica wrote: "Yesterday, Goodwill granted me two pairs of brand new shoes for $8 each."

Brian wrote: "Solid day at Goodwill so far."

Ambassador SPRING 2016





Watch a video story about Anthony at:


MAN GOES FROM JAIL TO BUSINESS OWNER IN ONE YEAR Be your own boss! Do something you love and become a successful business owner in just one year! It sounds like a latenight TV pitch that’s too good to be true. Even Anthony Fanning can barely believe it, and it happened to him.

The toll on his emotions was difficult as well. Watching helplessly from the sidelines as his wife worked extensive overtime to carry the financial burden for him and their two children was depressing, he said.

“It’s been a big surprise — the fact that it happened so fast,” he says. “It’s a real blessing.”

Anthony’s older brother suggested he try Goodwill. In May 2014, Anthony attended a job fair at the Goodwill Career Solutions Center in Downtown Nashville. He returned in July, met with a career counselor and completed job readiness, online job search and computer basics training.

What makes Anthony’s story even more remarkable is that it started with him leaving jail in March of 2014, burdened with a drug-related felony conviction. For the next several months, he searched for work without success. At least five different employers showed interest in him, but none hired him. “You make it to the interview, and then the background comes up, and there it goes — down the drain,” he recalls.


Ambassador SPRING 2016

“I went in hoping I could get pointed in the right direction on a career as opposed to just continuing to hunt for jobs,” he said. One day, a Goodwill employee suggested that Career Solutions’ construction training program might be a good fit for Anthony, and he signed up. Right away, Tim Kahn, the program’s instructor, could tell Anthony had the drive to succeed.

“He was hungry to learn — one of those guys who is a go-getter from day one,” Kahn recalls. “He was an exceptional student as far as picking up on new skills quickly and always staying involved. I usually had to chase him out at the end of the day.” During the six-week program, Anthony got hands-on experience using a wide variety of tools and reading blueprints. But he also received something even more valuable. “(Tim Kahn) taught me how to be a man — how to accept my flaws, how to not let this cloud of what I’ve done in the past hang over me and keep me down,” Anthony said. By the time the Nashville resident graduated from the six-week course in September of 2014, he had built a plan for his future. For a few months, he worked for relatives to amass some funds. Then, in February of 2015, he founded Imperial Home Repair Services LLC. The company, which he runs from home with the help of his wife, tackles small construction projects in the Nashville area — from painting to bathroom remodeling to installation of floors, doors and windows. Business began slowly, but word-of-mouth grew, and by the end of 2015 Anthony was doing more than a project a month. He bought a truck for his company, and he hopes to soon hire a helper and purchase office space.

“I always had a lot of questions for Tim, and I call him to this day for help with bidding or different types of work. I loved that class. Goodwill helped me build confidence, and it helped me focus on improving my life.”


of participants who complete Goodwill's Construction Training Program are placed into jobs.

“Life is a lot better now,” he said. “We’re not stressing over finances all the time, and my wife is able to spend more time at home with the kids.” What’s more, Anthony, who is 32, is still working to better his future. He recently secured his heating, ventilation and air conditioning license. He also stays in close contact with the instructor whose class set him on a new and better path. “I always had a lot of questions for Tim (Kahn), and I call him to this day for help with bidding or different types of work,” he said. “I loved that class. Goodwill helped me build confidence, and it helped me focus on improving my life.”

“He was hungry to learn — one of those guys who is a go-getter from day one. He was an exceptional student as far as picking up on new skills quickly and always staying involved. I usually had to chase him out at the end of the day.”

­– Tim Kahn, Goodwill Construction Program instructor

Anthony, proudly stands next to his truck with his company's name displayed — Imperial Home Repair

Read more Goodwill success stories on the next page.

Ambassador SPRING 2016





Ask Alecia about her life before Goodwill, and she says she didn’t have one. For more than a decade, the Cookeville area native was mired in a toxic mix of drug abuse and abusive relationships. Then, in early 2012, the state took custody of her newborn twin girls.


“That was rock bottom for me,” she recalls. “I knew I had to shape up and do something different.”

“My whole world came tumbling down at once,” she recalled. Her condition made walking or even standing for long periods difficult. Soon, she was forced to leave her job and apply for state disability benefits. In 2003 her family moved to Nashville, and she remained unemployed for more than a decade.

Alecia completed long-term addiction treatment in Alabama and was discharged to a Nashville halfway house. Soon after, she attended a local Goodwill job fair, which led to her acceptance into a paid Goodwill training program. She quickly gained a reputation as a hard worker. When her training was complete, she was offered a position — her first in more than three years. “When I got the job with Goodwill, I was so excited,” she says. “There was no way I was going to let anybody down.” The future that once looked so bleak for Alecia is now bright. She is a lead processor in Goodwill’s Cookeville store, remains sober and has bought her first car. She has regained shared custody of her twins and enjoys visits with her oldest daughter, now 12. “I have a lot of good things going for me,” she says. “I have a relationship with my parents and my children, and that’s something I didn’t have before.” Alecia’s supervisor says she has management potential. “I think I’m capable of it now,” she says. “I’m very proud of what I’ve overcome.”

View Alecia's full story and video at: 6

Ambassador SPRING 2016

Heather had a career she loved, managing a jewelry department for a major department store, and an active lifestyle. But in 1996, she was stricken with primary lymphedema, a rare disease that causes fluid retention and weight gain. She also began having seizures.

When Heather’s mother died in 2014, Heather began yearning for a change and needed income. She tried to find a job in retail, but employers declined to take a chance on her. In May 2015 she visited the Goodwill Career Solutions center in Antioch, where she took several classes and entered a paid, eight-week retail training program at the local Goodwill store. The store accommodated her by allowing her to sit during slower periods. She was soon hired on as a part-time retail associate. Store Manager Chasity Humphreys admires Heather for her grit.“She works hard and doesn’t let anything stop her from doing a great job,” Humphreys said. Customers and co-workers compliment Heather on her work, which brings her satisfaction. She also has caught up on her bills. “Goodwill gave me a chance to get back into the workforce, a team to be part of and something to look forward to."

View Heather's full story and video at:



onday, April 28, 2014, an estimated four tornadoes roared through Lincoln County, Tenn., leaving two people dead and numerous homes destroyed.

Within hours, volunteers from the American Red Cross were on the scene, providing tornado victims with shelter, water and food. American Red Cross Disaster Cycle Services remained there in the coming days, helping citizens get back on their feet. One of the ways the agency did that was to activate its new partnership with Goodwill Industries of Middle Tennessee. Goodwill set up a special donations trailer in Fayetteville, Tenn., and Red Cross volunteers spread the word that people could help tornado victims by donating their gently used clothing, shoes, home goods, furniture and other items to Goodwill. In return, Goodwill gave gift cards for merchandise in its stores to the American Red Cross, which distributed them to Lincoln County families most in need after the storms.

The tornadoes were among several disaster scenarios anticipated by the partnership, which was begun in March of 2013. Fires, floods, earthquakes — any event that displaces families from their homes, could also trigger activation of the partnership, said Chris Robins, Disaster Function Support Regional Manager for the American Red Cross of the Tennessee region. The impetus for the partnership was that after a disaster, many people contact the Red Cross wanting to donate clothing, furniture and other home goods for victims, but the Red Cross does not have the ability to collect and process those items. Goodwill does. “It’s beneficial for both the American Red Cross and Goodwill,” Robins said. “It’s a way we can partner to utilize our strengths to help the community when people are in need and have experienced a disaster. And the gift cards empower our clients to begin their own recovery, because they have the flexibility to get what they need. ”

In 2015, Goodwill Cares provided families and individuals in need with 956 gift cards worth nearly $30,000 in merchandise, often through partner agencies like the American Red Cross. Ambassador SPRING 2016





oodwill Industries of Middle Tennessee helped 15,412 people find jobs in 2015, a 61-percent increase over its efforts the prior year.

The not-for-profit provides free education, training and employment opportunities across 48 middle and west Tennessee counties. Overall, the agency assisted 36,081 people in 2015 — a 28-percent rise compared to 2014. Goodwill’s goals for last year were to assist 30,000 people and place 11,000 in jobs. Those benchmarks were met in November. The organization’s new goal focuses on 2020, by which it hopes to be placing 20,000 people into jobs annually.

A recent study by the Jones College of Business at Middle Tennessee State University forecast that by 2024 Goodwill will place more than 21,500 into jobs each year. Goodwill sells donated clothing and household goods in its stores to fund its mission. The agency employs more than 2,100 people, but 92 percent of Goodwill’s clients who find jobs are placed with other employers. More than 3,000 employers actively hire through Goodwill. “We are extremely proud of the results our 28 Goodwill Career Solutions centers have achieved for the people and communities we serve,” said Betty Johnson, Vice President and Chief People Officer of the local Goodwill.

“It’s exciting to be changing so many lives through the power of work. Our generous donors and shoppers make it possible.” — Betty Johnson, Vice President and Chief People Officer of Goodwill Industries of Middle Tennessee


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GOODWILL IMPACT HIGHLIGHTS FROM 2015 36,081 people assisted with training and job services 2,041 job fairs held n 15,412 people placed in jobs 92% of job-seekers were placed in employment outside of Goodwill n 3,018 employers hired Goodwill Career Solutions participants n 2,221 Goodwill employees (as of Jan. 1, 2016) n 89% of Goodwill employees are missionrelated n 11,280 people participated in Goodwill training programs n 36 Goodwill Stores n 28 Career Solutions Centers 70+ Donation Centers n 1,500,000 items in Goodwill stores on any given day n 0.8% of donated items are sold online n 27,600,000 pounds of salvage and recyclable material diverted from landfills n 44,000 trees saved by paper recycling n 167 community donation drives n 92¢ of every dollar Goodwill spends is applied toward mission

$277,000,000 Amount of wages and salaries associated with Goodwill’s jobs and external job placements each year.

Ambassador SPRING 2016


MILLENNIALS EMBRACE THE GOOD(WILL) LIFE “To know my purchases are bringing positive changes to the environment and to people helped by Goodwill makes me happy I shop there.” – Brian Miller


s Elisabeth Donaldson takes guests on a tour of her small Nashville area home, a theme quickly emerges. First, she points to her vintage wall decorations, colorful throw pillows and furnishings, checking off where each item was obtained.

“Goodwill, Goodwill Goodwill,” she says. Then, she shows off her extensive wardrobe, garment by garment. “Goodwill, Goodwill ... gift from a friend … Goodwill,” she says.


Ambassador SPRING 2016

Finally, she displays her burgeoning collections of teapots and coffee mugs. “Goodwill. All Goodwill!” she says. In November, the 34-year-old stylist, artist and actress took a vow that for one year her style would consist only of items “thrifted, gifted, handmade or pre-owned.” She began writing an Internet blog to explain the reasons for her pledge, discuss thrift-store fashion and post photos of her favorite finds. Donaldson says that experience, as well as recent discoveries about the need for corporate social and

LATESHA HIGHTOWER'S FAVORITE GOODWILL FINDS: $2 Never-worn Banana Republic pants and matching top: $1 White House / Black Market dress pants with tags still on them:

environmental responsibility, have changed not only her buying habits but the way she looks at the world. “It’s addictive,” she says. “Once you start living the Goodwill life, you just can’t get enough.” She is not alone. Studies show that people in Donaldson’s age group, known as millennials — those who reached young adulthood around the year 2000 — are more likely to support corporate social and environmental efforts than other age groups. They are more willing to purchase products with a social or environmental benefit, and they are more likely to make personal sacrifices to have an impact on issues they care about. Donaldson recognizes these traits among her friends and has become a zealous advocate of the thrift movement, especially when it comes to spreading the word about Goodwill. “Millennials arrived at this time where you have access to anything you could ever want, but they are starting to realize there’s something missing,” Donaldson says. “There’s an internal fulfillment not being met. People want to give back, and they want to be responsible. That’s where an organization like Goodwill steps in.”

ELISABETH’S STYLE TIPS: Goodwill has plenty of cute vintage shirts with great collar details. Pop the collar out of a black or solid-color sweater for a whole new look. Know your style and stick with certain color themes. That way, you can have lots of mismatched things, but they will still go together great. When you try on clothes, instantly you will love it or think, “This would be cool if maybe … .” Only buy things you love. There’s an abundance of clothes at Goodwill! Splurge and purge: Whenever I bring home a bunch of things from Goodwill, I go through my closet and donate things that I no longer need. More tips on Elisabeth’s blog:

Ambassador SPRING 2016



FASHION ACTIVIST The pixie-coiffed California native says she has shopped at thrift stores since she was 12, but she really started paying close attention to Goodwill about three years ago. That’s when she began selling “upcycled” clothing — vintage shirts, pants, dresses and accessories — that she cuts, stitches or embellishes into fresh, modern looks. As she researched upcycling, she began to grasp the differences between “ecofashion,” or fashion that is ecologically responsible, and “fast fashion.” Fast fashion is quickly produced, low-cost clothing that mimics luxury trends, and then, just as quickly, falls from favor.

She read reports identifying the fashion industry as the world’s second largest polluter, and she saw how some clothing manufacturers exploit workers in underdeveloped nations. Donaldson says she can no longer shop at big box department stores or at retail stores that market fast fashion to the unsuspecting masses.


Thrift stores such as Goodwill offer a perfect alternative.

Donaldson radiates an aura of energy and fun. But she says her success as a stylist, creating wardrobes for professional photo shoots and music videos, rests on discipline, deadlines and dedication. The satisfaction and self-respect she has gained through hard work allows her to identify with Goodwill’s mission on a personal level.

“When you shop at Goodwill, instead of buying something brand new made with all these toxins, you are buying something for reuse. It’s like recycling cans and bottles,” she says. “It’s something you can do to be fashionably friendly to the environment. The items are generally higher quality, and you aren’t contributing to the waste or pollution.”

“People nowadays think you have to go to (trendy retail stores) to shop, but you can actually go to Goodwill and find the latest fashions and high-end brands for very cheap." — Latesha Hightower, 26, student at Austin Peay State University


Ambassador SPRING 2016

Goodwill’s mission of changing lives through education, training and employment offers yet another important reason to shop there, she says.

“I believe production is the basis of morale,” she says. “I’ve known people who couldn’t get a job because they were disabled or had a criminal background, and it’s a very scary thing. When an organization like Goodwill helps them overcome that barrier, it can literally save their life. That’s really cool.”

BRIAN MILLER'S FAVORITE GOODWILL FINDS: $8 Jos. A. Bank overcoat $8 Calvin Klein blazer $2.79 American Eagle T-shirt

“Goodwill has been there every step of the way for me,” he says. “Most of the time I go there just looking for a deal, but thrift shopping is the physical manifestation of so many positive changes that have come into my life." – Brian Miller, 33, newspaper editor

OTHER DEVOTEES Latesha Hightower, a 26-year-old student at Austin Peay State University in Clarksville, knows Goodwill trains people to find work, and she recently connected thrifting and environmental sustainability during a classroom discussion. But her passion, and the focus of her Instagram page and YouTube channel, is bargain-hunting. Hightower’s field of study — Business Management — has taught her to pay attention to how she spends her money. “People nowadays think you have to go to (trendy retail stores) to shop, but you can actually go to Goodwill and find the latest fashions and high-end brands for very cheap,” she says. Brian Miller began thrifting out of necessity. Before July of 2014, the 33-year-old newspaper editor weighed 285 pounds and couldn’t walk to the mailbox without catching his breath. He began a new diet and weight-lifting regimen, and the pounds started to melt away.

The weight loss and added muscle forced him to frequently replace his clothing. For the first time in years, Miller could enjoy shopping, and at the Springfield Goodwill store he found quality, fashion and low prices. He displays his favorite purchases on his “thriftylifter” Instagram page. Today, Miller is 90 pounds lighter, with a size 34 waist. “Goodwill has been there every step of the way for me,” he says. “Most of the time I go there just looking for a deal, but thrift shopping is the physical manifestation of so many positive changes that have come into my life. To know my purchases are bringing positive changes to the environment and to people helped by Goodwill makes me happy I shop there.”

ON THE HUNT Donaldson says one final aspect of Goodwill keeps her coming back: the thrill of the chase. “Every time you go to a Goodwill store, you are going to find something unique that you weren’t expecting — a treasure,” she explains. It’s that appeal that has helped her convert so many friends, including her roommate who has worked in high-end retail for years, to thrifting. “I don’t care who you are, whether you are mega-preppy or some bohemian artist wild person,” she says, “there’s something for you at Goodwill.”

“I don’t care who you are, whether you are megapreppy or some bohemian artist wild person, there’s something for you at Goodwill.” — Elizabeth Donaldson, 34, stylist, artist and actress

Ambassador SPRING 2016




he Nashville Predators helped Goodwill Industries

at Goodwill headquarters in downtown Nashville. Goodwill’s

of Middle Tennessee launch a new program

leaders hope eventually to expand the volunteer program into

offering volunteers the chance to help further

the not-for-profit’s retail stores and other facilities across middle

Goodwill’s mission of providing education, training

and west Tennessee.

and employment opportunities. “Volunteering at Goodwill is a terrific way to give back to your Five staff members of the Nashville Predators Hockey Team,

community by helping us change lives through the power of

along with its mascot Gnash, spent several hours on March 4

work,” Goodwill Industries of Middle Tennessee President and

scanning books in Goodwill’s e-commerce department. That

CEO Matthew Bourlakas said. “Our volunteers will be inspired by

task, along with garment-hanging and donation sorting and

what they see and learn at Goodwill, and through their support,

processing, is among the new volunteer opportunities available

we will be inspired and enabled to help even more people.”

“Volunteering at Goodwill is a terrific way to give back to your community by helping us change lives through the power of work." — Matthew Bourlakas, President & CEO of Goodwill Industries of Middle Tennessee


Ambassador SPRING 2016

Though Goodwill has enjoyed support from volunteers in the past, it has not previously offered a formal volunteer program to the public. Patty Sullivant, a Core Talent Services manager for Deloitte Services LP, says she believes the program is a wonderful idea. For the past four years, Sulliavant and many of her co-workers at Deloitte have volunteered at Goodwill several days per year, conducting practice job interviews with clients of Goodwill Career Solutions and participants in Goodwill’s Summer Youth program. “Our volunteers absolutely love it,” she said. “I can tell you jaws drop when they tour the (Goodwill) facility and see everything that goes on there and

“Our volunteers absolutely love it. I can tell you jaws drop when they tour the (Goodwill) facility and see everything that goes on there and what good stewards of all the donations Goodwill is. Our employees come out of there fired up.”

what good stewards of all the donations Goodwill is. Our employees come out of

— Patty Sullivant, Core Talent Services Manager for Deloitte Services LP

there fired up.” By committing to work just two hours per week, volunteers can significantly enhance Goodwill’s operations. While all individuals are welcome to volunteer, Goodwill is also reaching out to local businesses and corporations, school and college groups, scouting programs, senior citizen organizations, churches and others to consider organizing volunteer groups. Goodwill also welcomes those seeking to fulfill court-ordered community

“What’s amazing is that volunteering is not only a great way to help the people and places in your community — but it can also be an incredibly rewarding and fun experience. We talk to volunteers every day who tell us how inspired they felt after a project. No matter if they just finished cooking a meal or assisted a neighbor in their home, we hear time and again that it is gratifying to be of help to others.” — Julie Abbott, Nonprofit & Volunteer Relations Coordinator at Hands On Nashville.

service, though currently only at its Nashville headquarters. Read a Q&A with Hands On Nashville about the benefits of volunteering at:

More details about available volunteer opportunities visit: or by contact Natisha Moultry at (615) 346-1601 or

Ambassador SPRING 2016




riends and co-workers said the grand marshal

On Jan. 16, Prime was honored for his role in making the

of White County’s 2016 Martin Luther King Jr.

community a better place to live. He led the third annual Dr.

Day Parade exemplifies one of the precepts of the

Martin Luther King Jr. Day Parade in nearby Sparta, the town

late civil rights leader — that communication is

where he resides. Goodwill Industries of Middle Tennessee Vice

essential for love and understanding.

President and Chief People Officer Betty Johnson was on hand

As the greeter for Cookeville’s Goodwill store, Steve Prime speaks to everyone who comes through the door. Having

to honor him following the parade at an MLK Day Program in the Sparta Civic Center.

worked there for 16 years, he has cultivated an amazing

Parade organizer Herman Hill said the honor was well-

number of friendships with people from all walks of life. Most

deserved. Prime frequently helps Hill and the White

began in similar fashion.

County Committee with photography, distributing fliers and

“I usually just smile and say hello as a start,” he explained. “I can almost always get people to talk, and people need that. You

completing tasks for other community events, such as the Christmas and Veterans Day parades.

never know what kind of mood they are in. If you can get them

“Everybody knows Steve. He’s at every community program we

to talk, it brightens their day. ”

have. He’s just a really good person who is always helping out around town,” Hill said.

Goodwill Vice President Betty Johnson joins Steve Prime, Goodwill employee and grand marshal of the White County Martin Luther King Jr. Day Parade, during a ceremony following the parade on Jan. 16. Photos by Pamela Claytor/The (Sparta, Tenn.) Expositor


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“I am convinced that men hate each other because they fear each other. They fear each other because they don’t know each other, and they don’t know each other because they don’t communicate with each other … .” — The Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. The Cookeville Goodwill store’s assistant manager, Tommie

Then, a discussion with a cashier during a shopping trip to the

Murphy, has worked with Prime for 15 years. She said there’s

Cookeville Goodwill store led to him accepting a job there as

nothing gimmicky in his approach — he’s just a genuinely nice

a donations processor, a position he held for 13 years before

guy with a perpetually sunny disposition.

becoming a greeter.

“Everybody loves Steve,” she said. “Customers come in and sit

“Goodwill made me feel like a productive part of society,” he said.

and talk to him. He makes them feel right at home. When he’s

“It made a big difference in my life.”

not here, everybody wants to know why.”

In 2014, Prime was treated for cancer. Even while undergoing

Even if local residents don’t know Prime’s name, they often

chemotherapy, he retained his smile and positive outlook,

recognize his smiling face. In 2013, he was featured on a

Murphy said.

Goodwill billboard in Cookeville. Many also recognize his specially equipped, silver 2010 Chrysler Town & Country van. The van is a lifeline for the 59-year-old Prime, who was stricken with polio as a small boy and has spent most of his life in a wheelchair. For many years, Prime worked from the home he shares with his sister in Sparta. He repaired electronics or did odd jobs. He

“He’s very self-sufficient and never asks you to do anything for him. He’s always thinking about other people,” Murphy said. “Like one time I was putting furniture out by myself, and he offered to help me by pushing things out with his wheelchair.” That focus on others may explain why Prime was surprised to have been named grand marshal.

rarely tried to find other work, and he often felt isolated. He was

“I wasn’t really prepared for that phone call,” he said. “It’s a big

quiet and shy.


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oodwill Industries of Middle Tennessee will accept donations of gently used clothing, shoes and books at the 15th Annual Nashville Earth Day Festival from 11 a.m.-6 p.m. Saturday, April 23, in Centennial Park.

Goodwill’s involvement is part of a larger effort in which festival-goers can recycle and dispose of household goods in environmentally responsible ways or help the needy. Other organizations and government agencies in attendance will accept items such as compact fluorescent bulbs, household batteries, unused or expired medications, printer ink cartridges and canned vegetables, fruit and packaged dry goods. Goodwill is one of more than a hundred organizations expected to participate. Nashville’s annual Earth Day Festival is a free, family-friendly event drawing thousands of people for live entertainment, exhibits and activities aimed at educating area residents about protecting the environment. This year, musical acts, the Wood

Brothers, Shel and children’s artist Mr. Steve and Friends will perform, and locally grown produce and locally made products will be sold at a Green Market/Farmers Market. Many of the exhibitors will also have activities for children. In 2015, Goodwill kept more than 27 million pounds of salvage and recyclable materials from going into landfills. The not-forprofit’s recycling of cardboard and paper pulp saved more than 44,000 trees from being cut down. A Goodwill box truck will be parked at Centennial Park, and attendants will be ready to accept donations, providing festivalgoers with a convenient way to reduce clutter in their homes while earning a tax deduction and helping others in their communities. Goodwill also will have a tent where representatives will distribute information and answer questions about Goodwill’s donation and retail operations as well as its mission arm, Goodwill Career Solutions.

In 2015, Goodwill kept more than 27 million pounds of salvage and recyclable materials from going into landfills. The not-for-profit’s recycling of cardboard and paper pulp saved more than 44,000 trees from being cut down. 18

Ambassador SPRING 2016



When you are considering skills training and/or gaining certification in a particular field, keep in mind the following benefits:

HELPS EARN CREDIBILITY IN YOUR FIELD OR PROFESSION Many industries seek, recognize and reward job candidates who possess training and certifications.


cquiring even one or two certifications is always a step in the right direction, but several under your belt will show you're committed to a career path and well versed in it.

As those certifications grow to require experience, they are more valuable and prove that you're familiar with industry best practices and have worked in the field, especially if it's one that has to be renewed or kept up to date. Think of all the possibilities! Don't shy away or be afraid of skills training and certifications. At best, the experience can set you up for a successful career and happiness. And, at worst, the experience can set you up for something bigger and better in your career journey.

GOODWILL CAREER SOLUTIONS OFFERS: free computer classes and specific occupation skills classes such as digital literacy,

BUILDS CONFIDENCE IN YOUR OWN KNOWLEDGE OF THE PROFESSION Knowing that you have been professionally trained leaves no room for doubt on job applications.

CREATES POTENTIAL FOR ADVANCEMENT Training and certifications can put you in a position for promotion and increased earning potential.

SEPARATES YOU FROM YOUR PEERS Taking the extra step to gain a

healthcare, construction, forklift operation and more. To learn

certification can help you get noticed

more about Goodwill’s training and certification programs, visit

among a sea of job candidates.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR Tom Lee is Goodwill's manager of trainers, overseeing 14 trainers who conduct numerous programs, most of which offer certifications, at

DEMONSTRATES YOUR COMMITMENT TO YOUR PROFESSION Refreshing skills and/or learning new techniques demonstrates continuous improvement and passion for your profession.

28 Goodwill Career Solutions centers.

Ambassador SPRING 2016




By JOHN CARNEY City editor of The (Shelbyville, Tenn.) Times-Gazette

dear friend of mine, last weekend, was


circulating one of my least-favorite Internet pass-alongs — a grid that purports to expose financial mismanagement at some charities and point you instead to others.

The pass-along is wildly inaccurate, and the section of it dealing with Goodwill Industries is an out-and-out lie, falsely claiming that Goodwill is a privately-owned business rather than a not-for-profit, and listing a wrong name for its CEO. Another section complains about how little March of Dimes gives to “the needy,” which makes no sense because March of Dimes promotes research on and prevention of birth defects. It is absolutely proper and responsible for you to research a charity before giving it money. But please do not ever trust these Internet pass-alongs for that information; many of them are untrustworthy and put out by people with an axe to grind, either to tear down such-and-such a charity or to make suchand-such other charity look good by comparison.

So where do you get accurate information about charities and their fundraising? The good news is that there are several places online to do just that. Each of these is a little different, and you may need to check more than one to get all the information you need. Charity Navigator:

Better Business Bureau:

Giving Matters (specific to Middle Tennessee charities):

GuideStar USA:

Tennessee Secretary of State’s listing of registered charitable soliciations:

Evangelical Council on Financial Accountability (specific to religious charities):


Ambassador SPRING 2016

Also, there’s a lot of variance in the way nationwide charities

under their own charters and are in control of their own

are structured. In some cases, the national (or international)

independent budgets, and in that case you really need to look

office is the only listing and is in complete charge of all finances,

for United Way of Bedford County, for example, or Goodwill

and in that case you’d need to look up the national organization.

Industries of Middle Tennessee to find out how your donation is

But other charities have regional or local affiliates that operate

being used.




How much of your dollar actually

of complaints are sometimes

goes to the organization’s actual

overblown. I think a nationwide

work? I’d rather a non-profit

charity with a budget in the

spend $50 to raise $500 than

hundreds of millions of dollars is

spend 50 cents and only raise

going to need to hire a qualified

$200. Sometimes, you have to

CEO with a lot of financial and

spend money to raise it. But if

management experience. Such

administrative costs and fund-

people don’t come cheap.

raising costs seem abnormally high, and you feel as if not enough of your donation is going to the actual charity work, you as a donor have


every right to be concerned, and to give your money elsewhere.

I bring this up because so many people are concerned about it, but frankly I think these types

If this is a major concern for you, you should be able to find accurate CEO salary information at one or more of the sites above — and if you can’t, that’s a red flag that speaks to the openness and accountability issue.

Does the charity make its audit and annual report available to the public? Does it respond to requests from the watchdog sites listed above? Is it governed by a strong and independent board of directors?

It takes a few minutes of your time to do research on a charity. But what you get from that time is the peace of mind of knowing that your donation is actually doing some good. Please, though, don’t trust items passed around on Facebook when it comes to these issues. You could be doing a disservice to a charity that truly deserves your support.

Goodwill Industries of Middle Tennessee is committed to transparency. Learn more at:

This column was originally published in the Shelbyville Times-Gazette on Feb. 18, 2016, and has been reprinted here with permission. This version was edited to fit available space. The full version can be viewed at

Ambassador SPRING 2016




Randy Buchanan Job Coach

Randy Buchanan trains clients for the workplace who have medically verifiable disabilities. Sometimes, this means developing a job aid or adapting items for new purposes, like using door hangers as memory markers to help memoryimpaired clients remember what they were doing before they walked away for a break. Randy was struck by a pickup in Pensacola, Fla., at 22 months old. Doctors told his parents that if he lived, he would never be able to learn. He was in special education classes until his parents moved to Dallas, Texas, when he was 8. There, he entered a program that “mainstreamed” students, allowing them to experience success in a regular classroom. The program, as well as Randy’s faith and the support of family and friends, helped him catch up and graduate high school with his peers. Randy went on to acquire two bachelor’s degrees, and he spent 20 years in the office supply industry. During that time, he wrote his first training manual. In his fourth year with Goodwill, Randy says it is a privilege to do his job. “At times, I feel as if I learn as much from them as they are (hopefully) learning from me,” he says.

What brought you to Goodwill?

What do you enjoy most about your job?

At the time my sister told me of a

Seeing the light come on for someone I

website which posts nonprofit jobs, and

have been working with. It’s that “aha”

I was looking for a full time job where

moment where they get it and now

I could use my training experience. I

can start to work unsupervised. Also,

went in for the interview, and I haven’t

seeing their sense of accomplishment

looked back since.

when they graduate from the training program to be a Goodwill employee.

What are some of the challenges you face? Adapting to each individual person’s

Why is your job important to Goodwill’s mission?

learning style. It sometimes takes time

Because when a job coach’s job is

to figure out what works best. But the

done well, people get skills which will

people I coach are with us because they

help them succeed not only in work

want to learn, they want to succeed,

but in life! They have developed an “I

and that makes it easier to want to

can” attitude and are able to go forth

meet them where they are.

and accomplish other goals. They can continue to move forward with a sense

What has surprised you most in your time with Goodwill?

of success! That’s what it’s all about.

The passion I feel for my job. I recently

How do you change lives?

told some of my supervisors I love my

Often by changing their perspective.

job more now than when I started

Many of the people we coach have

because I know more and can better

been told what they can’t do. We

serve our clients.

reverse that and show them what they can do. Once they get that sense of accomplishment, they can move forth and accomplish new goals.


Ambassador SPRING 2016

Board of Directors OFFICERS Chairperson: Fred McLaughlin

Goodwill President and CEO: Matthew S. Bourlakas

Vice Chairperson: Julie F. Wilson

Goodwill VP & Chief People Officer: Betty J. Johnson

Secretary: Chad M. Grout Treasurer: Dave M. Fentress Legal Counsel: Christopher S. Dunn, Waller Lansden Dortch & Davis, LLP

Goodwill VP of Finance Mary La Haie Goodwill VP of Retail David Jenkins

DIRECTORS Woodretta Allen

Fred T. McLaughlin

J.B. Baker

Robert McNeilly, III

Bryan Bean*

Ilex Pounders *

Steele Clayton

Christine E. Skold

Andrew Davidson

Todd A. Spaanstra

Christopher S. Dunn

John W. Stone, III

Robert Duthie

John C. Tishler

Dave M. Fentress

John Van Mol

Kathryn S. Gibson

Julie F. Wilson

*Chad M. Grout, CCIM

Jeff Young

Robert B. Kennedy

Donna B. Yurdin ** Intern

Ryan R. Loyd

TRUSTEES Chairperson: Robert W. Duthie Robert B. Kennedy Robert McNeilly, III

Ambassador SPRING 2016



SPRING CLEAN OUR MISSION Changing lives through education, training and employment

Clear the clutter from your life this spring and help give someone else a job

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