2019 Spring Goodwill Ambassador
Pictured, left to right: Selam and Kidane.
Meet Selam & Kidane...
With Goodwill's help, Selam and Kidane are overcoming barriers that come with a new life in the U.S.
At age 17, Selam left her parents and two younger brothers behind in the United Arab Emirates and came to the United States for a college education.
“It was my first time getting on a plane by myself,” explained Selam. “I had to travel 18 hours. It was a completely new experience for me.”
Selam was lucky she spoke English. But other hurdles came with being new to the country — barriers that were largely removed when she became a regular at Seattle Goodwill’s King County Job Training and Education Center (JTEC).
“Goodwill most importantly opened my eyes to a lot of opportunities,” Selam said. “Coming to the U.S. out of nowhere, it is very hard sometimes. You have to have some beginning. That’s what Goodwill was for me. I started to come every day.”
Selam first took classes in winter 2016. She enrolled in a Goodwill writing class, Career Pathways and Retail and Customer Service. Later, she also volunteered as a writing and English-speaking tutor.
Goodwill also helped find Selam healthcare services, and identify college scholarships. Even Selam’s job at U.S. Bank started when she connected with a recruiter visiting Goodwill.
“No one gives you these kinds of chances,” Selam said. “You don’t find that anywhere.”
Three years after Selam came to the U.S., her youngest brother, Kidane, joined her in Seattle. Selam, who is Kidane’s legal guardian, kept a busy schedule. She wanted to help him assimilate, so she suggested he visit Goodwill.
“She said she had this great place that I could go that she very much enjoyed,” Kidane said. “It sounded fascinating and very eye-opening to me.”
At Goodwill, Kidane enrolled in Goodwill’s Youth Maritime Program (YMP) – a two-year program based around Seattle’s booming maritime industry.
"Goodwill most importantly opened my eyes to a lot of opportunities." -Selam
It also helps students transition smoothly through their senior year of high school toward college readiness.
Kidane found a supportive space at Goodwill, where he could better understand U.S. culture and develop his leadership skills.
He already possessed strong soft skills, but YMP Instructor Dontay Proctor-Mills challenged him to push his boundaries. Kidane often serves as the program’s spokesperson at community events, and he recently spoke to Washington State Governor Jay Inslee during a presentation on the state’s new Maritime Blue strategy.
“Goodwill gives us a lot of advantages other students don’t have,” Kidane said.
Selam and Kidane both have bright futures: Selam is studying medicine at North Seattle Community College, and Kidane plans to study international business after high school graduation. Even though their parents are hundreds of miles away, they feel secure knowing they have a second family in Goodwill.
Goodwill Youth Program Specialist Dontay Proctor-Mills discovered his calling 3,000 miles from where he grew up in Seattle's south end.
Dontay was attending Florida International University when he got involved with a student group focused on addressing homelessness. For six months, he learned the causes of homelessness and issues the homeless face.
Dontay’s immersion culminated with a week at the Center for the Homeless in South Bend, Indiana, where he worked and learned from leadership. The experience inspired Dontay and paved a path to his work at Seattle Goodwill.
“Talking to the administrators, to the people in employment service, to leadership all about the work they do around the issue, I just remember being impacted by that,” Dontay said.
Now back in his hometown of Seattle, Dontay is changing lives.
In his nearly four years with Goodwill, Dontay has served as a GED/High School 21+ and English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) Instructor. He now leads Goodwill’s new Youth Maritime Program (YMP).
The YMP is a two-year program that primes youth for a career in Seattle’s booming maritime industry, provides students a smooth transition from high school to college, builds soft skills and connects students with maritime industry professionals.
Each summer, Dontay supervises YMP students while helping each one address and overcome personal barriers. His work continues into the school year when he hosts weekend workshops – a time students can receive help in areas such as the college navigation process. During the week, Dontay visits local high schools, making sure his students are achieving their academic goals.
“Goodwill’s youth programs have a really good history of building good relationships with students,” Dontay said. “I try to spend at least 30 minutes to an hour with each student a week.”
"I definitely enjoy coming here and doing this work every single day." -Dontay
Kidane is one of those maritime students Dontay routinely connects with.
“Kidane is a super sharp kid, but all the youth need some-one to pour into them and provide support,” Dontay said. “He’s a natural leader, so we’ve helped him hone those skills in the spaces we have been in, and he has blossomed and flourished.”
Recently, Kidane spoke in front of Washington State Governor Jay Inslee during a Maritime Blue Initiative event. He discussed his YMP experience, and how the Goodwill program primes students for maritime careers. Dontay said “he knocked it out of the park.”
“Changing lives is what’s written almost everywhere in this building,” Dontay said. “You can tell that drives what goes on here, and it is kind of threaded into everything JTE (Job Training and Education) does."
Pictured, left to right: Taryn, Amy and Wendy
Three years ago, Amy Hanson, founder and CEO of Hanson Consulting Group, was sitting in the crowd at Seattle Goodwill’s Annual Glitter Gala, intently listening while a Goodwill student, overcome with emotion, poured her heart out to a packed room.
The student spoke of her humble beginnings, how getting an education was life-changing and how Goodwill helped along her journey.
Amy was inspired and has been supporting Goodwill’s mission ever since.
“It really hit me at a personal level,” Amy said. “She was definitely speaking from her heart, and it was genuine and impactful. It felt like she had people from Goodwill believing in her and had the support system so she could achieve her goals. It was pretty amazing.”
While Amy has experienced tremendous success growing her company from a small startup to one with more than 100 employees, she endured many barriers growing up and can relate to obstacles many Goodwill students face.
“My mom had me at just 15 and was a heroin addict by the time she was 17,” Amy explained. “She passed away when I was a teenager from a drug overdose. My dad was in jail for a big part of my life, and I grew up on welfare.
“I’ve been really lucky and have people who have believed in me along the way and inspired me to do better, and I want to pay that forward.”
Amy has done just that as a Seattle Goodwill board member. She’s also pioneering Goodwill’s new Empowerment Fund – a diverse group of passionate individuals who support greater equity and opportunity for women by funding job training and education opportunities.
Amy has also fostered a giving attitude within Hanson Consulting Group, where colleagues Taryn Anderson and Wendy Alexander have joined Amy as Goodwill Empowerment Fund members.
For Taryn, Goodwill stands out as a place where opportunity is given to people who need it most.
“I believe people from all walks of life should have the opportunity and exposure to training and mentorship,” Taryn said. “For me personally, I’ve been fortunate to have those connections throughout my career. Goodwill is a very great avenue for these women to get that support.”
In the Empowerment Fund, Wendy sees a rich environment that promotes strong female leadership in the workplace.
“To give women extra opportunity and confidence to go forward is a fantastic thing,” Wendy said. “I think job training is such a good, practical benefit.”
Amy, Taryn and Wendy are proud Goodwill supporters and are excited to continue strengthening our com-munities through job training and education.
To learn more about Goodwill’s Empowerment Fund, visit seattlegoodwill.org
A letter from our CEO, Daryl J. Campbell
“Do not judge me by my successes, judge me by how many times I fell down and got back up again.” – Nelson Mandela
Resilience is defined by the capacity to recover quickly from difficulties, and we see that every day at Goodwill. For many of our students, the inability to overcome multiple obstacles and barriers prevents them from finding work and thriving in life. Our students show resilience when they come to Goodwill to gain the skills that will help them get the job they desire.
When individuals in need are down and ready to get back up, Goodwill is ready to help them get an education, secure a job and care for themselves and their families.
I am always impressed how Goodwill students show great courage and remarkable resilience when they experience set-backs and inequities. In this issue of the Goodwill Ambassador, you will meet two such inspiring and impressive individuals who have valiantly responded to life’s challenges. We are honored to help great people like Selam and Kidane with job placement, employment advice and basic assistance to get them on the path to higher education. Kidane and Selam needed a better understanding of the education system and workplace skills when they came to the United States. At Goodwill, they found the support system needed to find jobs and pursue their education. Both siblings found their independence and built confidence. Most importantly, as we do for all our students, Goodwill staff provided important resources and a network of support.
At Goodwill, students learn:
- Invaluable job skills in work sectors like maritime and aerospace
- Computer and writing job-readiness skills
- Social skills to successfully interact with colleagues and potential employers
- Interviewing skills that help them present their best selves.
But we can only do what we do with your support. You are essential to the Goodwill mission, and you are helping people within our community overcome their barriers and increase their resilience.
Daryl J. Campbell
President & CEO