Excel Center South Bend – Justin’s Graduation Story


Graduation is a big deal at the South Bend Excel CenterThe Excel Center is a tuition free high school for adults. You may have heard some of our stories. The unique mission of the Excel Center is the driving force behind student’s success. The Excel Center meets students where they are in life. That’s why we want you to know Justin’s graduation story.

When you commit to coming here,

we commit to getting you there.

Following is the story of one of our students, Justin. Below is the speech he delivered at graduation. His words tell a story you need to hear.

When I first came to the Excel Center I was just trying to kill some time.  

Some students come into the Excel Center all motivated to come get their diplomas, but that wasn’t me. I was just coming here ‘cause I had nothing else better to do.

You see, I had an injury that caused me to lose my job, affected what I was able to do and not do, and changed my life in a way that I was not expecting.

While I was injured, someone I know advised me to just go back to high school and wait for my injuries to heal. And that is what I decided to do – I came to the Excel Center.

Once I came here, I really started to enjoy the learning environment.  The atmosphere and people were so friendly, and they had great attitudes.

After a while, I began to discover that their attitude started to change my attitude.

I started getting good grades which made me feel motivated to get more.

Doing good in school really raised my confidence to a level it was not before. Gradually my love of education seemed to creep back into my life.  This was something that regular high school could not seem to do.

All the teachers and staff have been so awesome. They have been more than helpful.

I am thankful I got to meet so many great staff and students, they are the type of people you don’t get to meet often in life.

Here I stand, months later, with a solid 3.5 GPA, and with aspirations and a direction that I would not have thought possible a short while ago.

If you would have told me 6 months ago that I would be sitting after school in Jeff’s class writing a graduation speech, with a SAT study guide in front of me, and thinking about plans to go to college and start a real career, I would have said, “You’re crazy.”

However, here I am, with a variety of paths open to me that didn’t exist before I started here.  I’m not sure where life will take me, but it is a much brighter future having gone to the Excel Center.

What started out as a place to kill some time ended up being a transformative experience for me, as I think it has been for all the students you see here before you.

A transformative experience.

This is what Goodwill does.  Through your generous donations to stores, and the dollars you spend shopping, we are able to do this.  You give us the ability to offer transformative experiences.  Experiences on the path to obtaining meaningful employment.  We love what we do, and we hope you do too.

Goodwill Style Makeover – Charlene

Welcome to 2019 and this month’s edition of the Goodwill Style Makeover!

In this Style Makeover post, we will introduce you to Charlene who is a client at Goodwill. She went through the Goodwill Works Program to help her with job skills. She is nominated as this month’s Style Makeover because of her hard work.  As a Goodwill Works Client, Charlene obtained employment with the Goodwill Industries of Michiana corporate office in the custodial services department.  Her co-workers say she is always going above and beyond to help others. They want to thank her with this Style Makeover!

Through this makeover, Charlene stepped back and thought about her style, and what her clothes were saying about her personality  As a result, she is able to make thoughtful changes to her image for 2019. Certainly this is a good “check” for all of us in the New Year.  We hope you enjoy Charlene’s Style Makeover story in this video.

Little Black Dress Fashion Show


We have just over a week until the big Little Black Dress Fashion Show & Boutique in Schererville, IN.  Tickets are quickly selling out – get yours NOW!

Show info and to purchase tickets: GoodwillFashionShow.com


Goodwill’s Partnership with SB Woodworks

One of our hopes is that this blog will be a place to share information about the impact we are having in the community.  We have partnerships with many local businesses, organizations and agencies to better serve those who live here. To that end, we think you should know about the partnership Goodwill Industries of Michiana has with South Bend Woodworks. 


Trend Alert! Top Trends for Spring 2018

We know you love knowing what the current trends are…and you may have noticed the Trend information displayed on the TVs inside our stores. We thought we would give you a few of those images here to allow you to get a closer look.

This trend is the coverall, also known as the playsuit, also known as the romper.  The more utilitarian and industrial looking, the more on-trend!  This look isn’t just for the ladies!  Guys are getting in on this look too.  Goodwill is the place to hunt down the perfect coverall!  Add some kitschy patches and make it your own!

Goodwill: Ability First program


At Goodwill Industries of Michiana, we understand many times the first step to finding a job is understanding your skills, interests, and abilities. We also understand matching employer needs with your unique skills is one way we can help bring the value of employment to you and your family.

Ability First services allow Goodwill staff to walk alongside individuals and employers as they address the unique challenges of employment for persons with cognitive or physical barriers by providing any needed job coaching, job training, advocacy or assistance with situations that may arise in the new position. The length of personal assistance is dependent upon the needs of both the individual and the employer.

To find out how Ability First can meet the employment needs of people with disabilities, contact your local Vocational Rehabilitation Services office.

Every 38 seconds of each business day
someone earns a job with Goodwill’s help.

Every eight seconds another person accesses
Goodwill opportunities to build their career
and strengthen their family.

You can be next!

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Goodwill Industrial Services – what is it?

Goodwill’s Industrial Services Division provides a resource of equipment, facilities and labor that enable the manufacturer or marketer of a product to outsource specialized packaging and assembly projects, reworks, or an entire packaging or manufacturing process.
Outsourcing to Goodwill yields many benefits:

  • Frees you to focus on your core business.
  • Frees space in your facility for other uses.
    • Frees capital by reducing your need for equipment.
      • Provides shorter lead times via the use of a specialized facility.
        • Reduces your in-house labor and benefit costs.
          • Provides a resource of labor and space for specialized or non-recurring jobs.
            • Delegating work to Goodwill Industrial Services can free space for more critical operations.
            Goodwill’s Industrial Services Department has the facilities, equipment and know-how to handle all of your packaging needs. Whether it is a short or long-run job, or if you need ongoing support for your packaging needs; we can provide it!

            We offer bagging, bar-coding, and cartoning, as well as kit packaging, labeling, shrink wrapping, and more.

            Please contact us with your specific packaging needs and let us show you how Goodwill’s Industrial Services Department can package a whole lot more than you expect.

            Goodwill’s Industrial Services Department provides you with custom manufacturing services including assembly, fabrication, inspection, and rework.

            We can handle temporary, sporadic, or long-term projects yet remain a cost effective solution for your business. Stop hiring costly temporary labor and put our expertise to work.

            Call today for your free, no obligation cost estimate. We are sure you will be surprised at just how beneficial it can be to work with Goodwill’s Industrial Services Department.

            We are prepared to support your communication needs with standard and automated mailing capabilities.  In many cases, our clients find that the cost of our services is offset by the postage savings.  A full complement of supplemental services is also available, from collating and catalog assembly to sorting and stapling.

            WIPING CLOTHS
            We stock a variety of cotton and cotton blend wipers for the needs of your application. Wiping Cloths from Goodwill Industrial Services are durable and affordable and delivery is available in select areas. Wiping cloths come in 50 lb boxes. Delivery or pickup from one of our Goodwill Stores may be available, call for more details.

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            Goodwill Success Story Cynthia – Making the Most of Her Second Chance

            We want to introduce you to Cynthia, who graduated from Goodwill’s Second Chance Program.  One simple promise that she kept changed her life.

            Here is Cynthia’s success story, in her own words:

            Cynthia, a Goodwill Success Story

            “I had a good childhood; some may even say I was spoiled.

            As a teenager I started to rebel against my parents and would sneak out to experiment with alcohol. I started to spin downward and at age 15 I was expelled from school due to a chain of events from fighting to skipping school. After having 2 babies very young and years being in an abusive relationship, I found myself addicted to prescription drugs. It got to the point that I didn’t know who I was anymore. I hit rock bottom and was eventually arrested.

            I had nowhere to go and had burnt all of my bridges with my family and friends.

            On July 7, 2015, I made the first promise that I would keep in years. I told my mother I would get help. I went to a halfway house and was referred to Goodwill. When I started, I didn’t like myself and had no self-respect. I stayed at Goodwill until I had to face my past and was sentenced to prison.

            While there, I entered a program called GRIP (Guiding Rage Into Power) and I did everything I could to work on myself with counselors. I was tired of running; and we dealt with issues from my past.

            When I was released, I came to Goodwill to start fresh and begin a new journey.

            Goodwill gave me opportunities and helped me make the right decisions.  Through the Second Chance Program, I learned how to make sure I got to work on time and to manage my personal life so that it didn’t interfere with my job.  They also taught me how to budget my money.  I came to Goodwill to start fresh and begin a new journey.  I was tired of running and needed to deal with the issues of my past.

            Today I can stand before everyone and say that I love myself.”

            Cynthia, we are so proud of you and admire your hard work!  

            Congratulations on your success!

            Overcoming Hearing Loss – Annette’s Success Story

            Goodwill Industries of Michiana assists those with barriers to employment. You’ve all heard that statement a million times. The truth is we are all one “thing,” one “tragedy” away from having a barrier in our lives that seems to make gainful employment impossible. Those road-blocks might be incarceration, job training or a disability. This month’s Goodwill Success Story Spotlight tells that story in a powerful way.

            Being born with Bilateral Hearing Loss forced Annette to face many challenges. One of those challenges was gaining employment. Although she has always been a hard worker with a stable work history, she had a hard time finding full time employment that allowed her to utilize her skills in customer service.  She was also looking for a schedule that allowed her to care for her two young children with potential for advancement and benefits to support her family.

             In July of 2013, Annette came to Goodwill Industries of Michiana through the Vocational Rehabilitation Program. Her goals were simple: a full time job with benefits. With the assistance of her Case Manager, Mary Ellen, and her Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor, Robert, a plan was developed to help her achieve her goals.

            Weekly appointments with Elizabeth, her Employment Specialist, helped Annette begin to learn new skills and new ways to apply those things she had learned in previous jobs. She perfected her resume, enhanced her job interview skills and attended job fairs. During this time, her employment specialist suggested a job opportunity working with the South Bend School Corporation as a teacher’s assistant. This opportunity seemed to fit all of the things Annette dreamed of in her perfect job scenario.

            Annette was granted an interview. While waiting to interview with human resources, she was stopped by a former teacher who had assisted her during school with sign language services. This teacher had thought so highly of Annette, she suggested that Annette apply for an opening in the Special Education Department as an Educational Interpreter. Annette was soon hired at a primary school as an Educational Interpreter.

            Annette continues to work with The South Bend Community School Corporation. She has overcome many challenges in her life and is an inspiration to her family and to other children born with the same challenges she has faced.

             Congratulations, Annette! You have worked so hard for everything you have achieved, and are a powerful role model to so many. We can’t wait to see where your career takes you!