Friday Focus: Rappahannock Goodwill Industries

Driven by a mission to provide opportunities and resources to those with barriers to employment, Rappahannock Goodwill Industries is an organizRGI Logoation that is making a difference in Fredericksburg and the surrounding counties! We caught up with Megan Bergen, Vice President, Mission Services for Goodwill, who chatted with us about Goodwill’s mission, shared some personal favorite moments and gave us a preview of the Goodwill Collaboration Zone: an exciting new space and vision for the organization.

Q: Tell us about your organization (who you serve, what you do, etc.)

A: A Methodist minister named Edgar Helms founded Goodwill in 1902. More than a hundred years later, his vision of an “industrial program as well as a social service enterprise” lives on in 165 member agencies around the country that focus on the power and dignity of work. At Rappahannock Goodwill (a member agency), we serve the City of Fredericksburg and a 12-county region. We provide work opportunities and job training to people with barriers to employment, particularly those with disabilities. Operations include a commercial laundry, off-site custodial and administrative services, four Job Help Centers—and, of course, we operate twelve Goodwill stores, a Goodwill Outlet, and numerous Attended Donation Centers. In 2013, we served 3,898 people. 596 individuals were helped in our Job Help Centers, and 369 people were placed into jobs.

Q: What is your favorite “moment” (example of how your organization helped)?

A: At RGI, we celebrate the successes of our program participants—and we are in the lucky position of having lots of successes to celebrate. Daily, we support people in our Job Help Centers who have not been able to find jobs—a veteran transitioning to the civilian workforce, an ex-offender trying to get that much-needed second chance, or someone who has a disability that has gotten in the way. The greatest moment is when we are able to help that person find a job, so they can experience the power of work which leads to independence and a positive future.

Here’s a recent favorite moment: One of our current program participants—diagnosed in the fifth grade with an intellectual disability and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder—was referred to RGI after she graduated from high school in 2007. A previous vocational evaluation had indicated she demonstrated distractibility, inappropriate interpersonal interactions, negative and uncooperative attitude and a slow work pace. Evaluators asked that she participate in a community based assessment/training program to improve these behaviors before being accepted into their programming.

RGI filled this role and has proudly and successfully served her ever since, providing her with the necessary supports to grow both personally and vocationally. She has served as a valuable member of all work teams she has been assigned, and has transformed into a capable and confident young woman with endless potential. If that isn’t a great illustration of the power of work, I don’t know what is.

My recent favorite moment was finding out that starting next week, she will graduate from a high support program to a more independent position, working on an RGI mobile crew that does custodial jobs at another location.

Q: What is your biggest challenge?

A: Mission awareness has long been a fundamental challenge for Goodwill. Research conducted ten years ago found that while 90 percent of people surveyed know Goodwill, only 26 percent know the mission behind the donation centers and stores. This is an issue both nationally and locally—to our surprise, last year someone told us that our Job Help Centers (which provide free assistance to individuals looking to upgrade their job readiness and job search skills) were our best kept secret! We are working hard to increase mission awareness, to let people know that by donating and shopping they are creating jobs for people with barriers to employment. In our stores, we’ve begun asking shoppers if they wish to round up to support the mission—it’s another way to start a conversation with individuals in the community about how our stores help us put people to work. The tagline of a national ad campaign launched in 2013 says it all: “Donate Stuff. Create Jobs.”

Q: Are there any upcoming events?

A: In November, we will celebrate the opening of the Goodwill Collaboration Zone: nearly 10,000 square feet of space set aside to be rented by nonprofits whose visions align with ours. Co-location of RGI staff and the staffs of other agencies will facilitate working together to better serve the people we all serve. The vision is that this collaborative environment will allow us all to help people with a variety of barriers reach their full potential, both on and off the job.

Q: How can people get involved with your organization?

A: We are always seeking volunteers to help us further our mission! We have many volunteer positions, from Goodwill mentor (working one-on-one with a particular person in the Job Help Center to achieve certain goals) to literacy tutor to Goodwill ambassador (increasing the general public’s awareness of RGI and its services). We even offer a virtual career volunteer opportunity to accommodate volunteers who are unable to be physically present during Job Help Center hours. People interested in volunteering should visit our website (www.fredgoodwill.org) for details.

Community Bank of the Chesapeake is proud to support Rappahannock Goodwill Industries through its annual Casual for a Cause program. If you would like to donate to Goodwill directly, visit their website at http://www.fredgoodwill.org/donate.

Staying Safe on the Move

Job opportunities, proximity to loved ones, milder temperatures or a simple change of scenery. Whatever the reason behind your next move, if it requires tHome Buyinghe help of a moving company, be sure and do your homework before packing up your bags. Unfortunately, there are a number of fraudsters looking to take advantage of consumers in their hurried and hectic state.

Moving fraud

Moving fraud can take many forms – whether theft, ransom, unscrupulous pricing practices or clever, sub-contractor swindling operations. What’s worse is that these unlicensed companies and scam artists are growing in number. http://www.bbb.org/us/article/moving-scams-still-a-problem-for-many-41632

Proper precautions

Before bringing in a company to give you a hand with your haul, simply begin by asking your friends and neighbors for any recommendations. Try accruing a list of four to five companies to ensure a competitive price. If you’re still in need of additional options, take to your favorite search engine. Once you build your list of four or five companies, click on over to consumer review site Yelp to find out what others may think. Finish your preliminary search by checking for any complaints on file with the Better Business Bureau.

You’ll want to call each business to verify the information on the company website and to arrange an on-site estimate at your residence. http://www.cbsnews.com/news/moving-scams-5-tips-to-avoid-moving-fraud/ Upon arrival, go over the details and don’t be afraid to ask any and all questions you may have with the agreement. Lastly, ask for a copy of “Your Right and Responsibilities When You Move,” a document which you are entitled to receive from the company by law. http://www.movingscam.com/articles/how-to-find-a-reputable-moving-company

In addition to these precautions, the Department of Transportation maintains a list of moving company red flags, https://www.protectyourmove.gov/consumer/awareness/protect/red-flags.htm while ProtectYourMove.gov https://www.protectyourmove.gov/consumer/awareness/checklist/movingchecklist.htm is home a to a handy checklist with everything you need to know from planning right through to moving day.

Recourse

If you suspect a scam call the police immediately. And victims of moving fraud are encouraged to file an official complaint with the National Consumer Complaint Database http://nccdb.fmcsa.dot.gov/ to assist in the investigation and help prevent the same company from committing similar crimes against others in the future.

Friday Focus: Calvert Library Foundation

For thousands of years, libraries have been a staple community institution where people could gather and seek out information. Today, the Calvert County Librarcalvert_library_logoy system continues the tradition, providing central hubs that provide not only books, but an endless list of programs and services as well. This week’s Friday Focus organization, the Calvert Library Foundation, plays a vital role in supporting the Library’s mission by providing additional funding. We spoke with Scott Deacon, Vice President of the Foundation’s Board of Directors, who shared his thoughts on the many ways the Library benefits the local community.

Q: Tell us about your organization (who you serve, what you do, etc.)

A: Calvert Library Foundation is an enabling organization whose stated purpose is to improve public library services and facilities in Calvert County, Maryland.  The Foundation accomplishes this purpose by securing non-government funding from residents of Calvert County and its surrounding counties in Maryland, businesses and private sources.  These funds are used to purchase resources that will make significant improvements to libraries and their programs not otherwise obtainable through governmental or other institutional funding.  In 2013, the Foundation provided needed funds to the Library for furnishings and for staff training to improve services for County residents. We also conducted a capital campaign and provided more than $225,000 for the outfitting of one branch.  Funds provided by the Foundation help bridge the difference between the Calvert Library being good and being GREAT!

The Calvert Library is comprised of four separate branches throughout Calvert County, Maryland.  In 2013, the library was able to provide the more than 88,500 county residents and residents of nearby counties with a complete range of library services and employed 54 full-time equivalent employees.  They served nearly 600,000 customers in-person, circulated the 265,864 items in their physical collection 1,121,505 times and answered more than 145,954 reference questions.  Their website saw 186,465 unique visitors and the webpage was viewed 904,867 times.  The computers were used 141,507 times.  Additionally, outside groups used the meeting rooms 3,471 times.

Q: What is your favorite “moment” (example of how your organization helped)?

A: I do not think I have just one “moment”.  Actually, every time I go into one of the library facilities I get a sense of satisfaction.  You can almost feel the wonderment of those who are gaining from all the library has to offer.  When I grew up, we lived in an area that was so rural we did not have a library facility.  Rather, we had an old bus that served as a mobile library and brought books to our area once a week.  So when I go into the library facilities, I look at all the patrons who are benefitting from its very presence and I appreciate all of those who made and continue to make that reality.  For example, the Foundation provided a large flat-screen television in the meeting room which has become a mainstay for presentations, workshops, the cinema café movie nights, and is used extensively by community organizations on a daily basis.  Also, the circulating video games the foundation provided are very popular.  Finally, the Foundation has provided for children’s activity cubes, additional computers for patrons and staff, comfortable library furnishings and foreign language CDs and DVDs.

Q: Why is the Library important?

A: Calvert Library is a hub for members of our community to connect and interact across all demographic groups. The Library hosts a range of activities and social programs that engage our minds and provide opportunities to exchange ideas with other people.  It has numerous partnering agencies (College of Southern Maryland, public schools, Head Start, Workforce Investment Board’s Mobile Job Center, etc.) where its programs complement and reinforce theirs.  The library provides opportunities to bring diverse segments of the population together to have civil discourse about matters of importance.  Their “Choose Civility” programming is just one of many the library offers to address needs in our community.

It is also an important economic equalizer, providing equal access to technology, information and lifelong learning opportunities to all who wish to develop both professionally and personally.  It is a meeting place for those seeking to improve their English-speaking skills. Students and job seekers flock to the library to use computers for schoolwork, research, job searches and many other things.

It also makes green sense (environmental, not just dollars) to have reference materials, databases, literature and media in one place for people to access. Having hard copies to share across a community and online copies of documents shared by thousands of people in our county saves trees from being harvested and waters from being polluted. The Library provides timely, accurate responses to questions.  Its inter-library loan system connects people to the information they seek – all these services are provided free of charge to everyone.

Q: What is your biggest challenge?

A: Managing technology.  We need to assist the library in staying relevant to their patrons, young and old alike.  We also need to help the library stay abreast of the emerging technology as it relates to providing access to entertainment and knowledge.  There is a move toward having Maker-spaces in libraries where computers are programmed to manufacture 3D items. By providing cutting edge equipment such as this, the Library helps to ignite people’s imagination and foster the science, technology, engineering and math skills that make America competitive.

Q: Are there any upcoming events?

A: Coming up on October 25 is the Foundation’s 2014 Gala Art Auction. This is the second year for the event. Last year’s auction was a great success and raised over $10,000 for the Foundation.

Q: How can people get involved with your organization?

A: Please visit our website at http://calvertlibraryfoundation.com and look for activities and opportunities to join the foundation in its endeavors.  I should point out that the Calvert Library Foundation is a 501(c) (3) nonprofit organization and as such, your contribution is tax–deductible to the extent allowed by law.  Please contact us if you would like to become a member of the Library Foundation Board or if you would like to assist and/or participate in any of the Foundation events.  Finally, there are few—if any—institutions that provide so many free services and programs for people. Your donation will help this great institution innovate and reach out to all segments of the population. Your dollars will enable people to achieve their potential. And, you will know that you are an important part of something larger than yourself.

Community Bank is proud to support the Calvert Library Foundation through our annual “Casual for a Cause” campaign. If you’d like to donate directly to the Foundation, please visit their website.

Big Savings for Small Business

Are you a small business owner looking to maximize your margins? Are you trying to realize opportunities to save 75779888registerwithout disrupting your day-to-day processes? With a little creativity and thrifty thinking there are ways you can save without sacrificing efficiency or quality.

Smarter Spending

Used cars cost less than brand new models, and the same is true for office equipment. The next time you’re looking to pick up a printer/copier or conference table opt for a “pre-owned model,” and pay a fraction of the new sticker price. But before heading over to Amazon, eBay or a local office e-tailer, check out these tips http://www.nfib.com/article/buying-and-selling-used-office-equipment-52144/ to help guard against potential scams.

Other discount options exist in the growing number of surplus stores like Overstock.com http://www.overstock.com/, which resell outdated or previously unsold inventory from brand names and top retailers.

DIY Marketing

Of the many advantages of social media, it’s hard to ignore one very appealing fact – the price. All the major channels, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, Tumblr, etc., are free for businesses to set up and maintain a profile. Using social sites as promotional vehicles for your latest products and services also improves your search engine rankings and therefore the likelihood of attracting more prospects.

Public relations opportunities are also monetarily attractive options. In addition to drafting and distributing your own press releases in conjunction with events or promotions, consider making senior managers and other specialists within your organization available for interviews and speaking opportunities. The benefits extend beyond the free press coverage, as your business will be seen as a go-to resource flush with industry experts.

Go green to save some green

According to PC World http://www.pcworld.com/article/257306/how_to_save_money_on_printing_costs.html, each sheet of printed paper costs about 10 cents, and that figure jumps significantly with respect to color. When you multiply that by the number of pages printed by each employee over the course of a year the expense grows exponentially.

Opt to “go green” and digitize whenever possible. In lieu of mailing or faxing inventories and purchase orders, send them via email. The same applies to inter-office communications, why print when scanning and sending does the trick. If you’re a brick and mortar business, try offering your customers the option of an e-receipt instead of a printed version. In addition to saving on ink, toner, paper and machine maintenance, your business will also benefit from the goodwill generated by your eco-friendly initiatives.

An even simpler, low-tech opportunity can be found by examining your overhead…lights that is. Replacing your incandescent bulbs with more energy efficient LEDs or compact fluorescents can result in a savings of up to tens of thousands annually. http://www.cnbc.com/id/100863041

What tips or tricks have you used to save your business money?

Young Adult Blog Series: The Importance of Budgeting

So you’re all grown up and earning a steady paycheck—hooray!   Now it’s time to consider how you’re spending it.

If you’re trying to lead a better, smarter financial lifestyle, it’s important to understand how you’re using the money that you have. Having a budget for yourself is a simple way to help better manage your income. Tracking your income and expenses each month can shed light on bad spending habits and make you more accountable for where your money goes each month.

You can start a budget using old fashioned pen and paper, or if you’re more technologically inclined, Excel or Microsoft Money can be a good way to go. For smart phone users, there are many apps available like BUDGT or Mint that can help you keep track of your income and expenses from your smart phone.

As you start creating your budget, think about how much control you have over your expenses. Things like rent, taxes and insurance are probably pretty well set. Other expenses, like food, entertainment and gifts are more controllable. Just by thinking about these items, you may be able to find ways to spend less and save more. If nothing else, you can make judgments about which expenses are most important to you.

Generally speaking, a personal budget will enable you to understand where your money comes from and where it goes. With that understanding, you will be in a better position to make informed financial decisions, to monitor your spending and to potentially identify ways to spend less on some items so you have more to spend on more important things or to save.

Creating and maintaining a budget takes commitment, and sticking to your budget takes self-discipline. But remember that there are many different apps and programs available to help with budgeting so that wherever you go, you can take your good financial sense with you!

Ready to get started? Check out this article from Investopedia for more tips on getting started!