Joel’s Goodwill Journey: From Supporter to Teammate
“It feels like something that has come full circle. I always have to step back in a little bit of amazement to feel that I’m a part of something I was a supporter of for so long.” – Joel Hoffman, Seattle Goodwill E-commerce Auction Lister
When Joel first walked into our Seattle store in the mid-nineties, he had no idea Goodwill would eventually play such a big role in his life.
Joel first started shopping at Seattle Goodwill in 1995, “when the Collectibles section was called the Treasure Shop,” he described. Back then, there was a cozy little café located in what’s now called the Special Sales area, along with a museum that displayed a bear from the 1990’s television show Northern Exposure. “It was just so cool,” he said.
Through the years, Joel saw every part of Goodwill evolve and grow – from Glitter Sales, to merchandising, to the impact of our mission in the community. At one point, he even told his roommate who was looking for a new direction in life to apply for a job at Goodwill. His roommate took his advice and has since worked into his current position as a supervisor.
Meanwhile, Joel had been running his own small business as a reseller. While he enjoyed the business and was passionate about reselling, he found that he wanted to be around people. He wanted to find a new path that would allow him to lead and work with a team. When Joel found himself looking for new opportunities, his roommate suggested joining the Goodwill family.
“I recommended Goodwill to someone, and then they did the same thing for me,” Joel said. In March of 2019, Joel got a job as a Production Lead at Seattle Goodwill – the very place he had been supporting for decades. As he worked with and motivated his teammates, he quickly gained a reputation of being friendly, uplifting, and outgoing. But then, like so many people across the nation, the COVID-19 public health crisis threw Joel a curveball.
When the statewide Stay Home, Stay Healthy order caused Goodwill to temporarily close all locations, Joel faced the sudden stress and uncertainty of unemployment. But as he connected with our Job Training and Education team who had been working to support Goodwill staff and students through the store closures, he realized there was another option. His previous position had been cut, but there was a way for him to combine his experience in reselling with his passion for Goodwill in a new way: e-commerce. Joel submitted an application for a position as an E-commerce Auction Lister, interviewed, and got the job.
Joel now enjoys working in his new role, connecting with his Goodwill teammates, and meeting people from around the world. He shared that his favorite thing about Goodwill is the people – from the paths that brought each teammate here to the way everyone looks out for one another. For example, Store Manager Israel Juarez kept the Seattle team motivated during the lockdown by suggesting things for everyone to do. He encouraged Joel to go on walks and spend as much time outside as possible, which helped him cope with stress. And when Joel hears the powerful stories of students and fellow employees, they inspire him beyond words. In those moments, he says, “You know what? I’m in the right place.”
In the future, Joel would like to continue growing with Goodwill and venture into areas of e-commerce that haven’t been explored before. While Joel’s Goodwill story started long ago, this new chapter has just begun. And we are so glad to be a part of his journey.