Excel Center Graduation

Recently, we celebrated the Excel Center graduation at the Gary Campus.  The Excel Center is a free adult public high school that offers the opportunity to earn an Indiana Core 40 High School Diploma.

While earning a high school diploma, students earn college credits.  A variety of industry-recognized certifications are also available.

Mission of the Excel Center

The mission of The Excel Center is to provide adults the opportunity and support to earn a high school diploma and pursue post-secondary education. 

The Excel Center is a FREE high school for adults 18 and over.  Our schools “meet students where they are”. We do this by providing a flexible structure and supportive relationships.  We partner with students to manage work, life, and family concerns as they achieve their educational goals.

We’d like to introduce you to 2 of our recent graduates from the Excel Center Gary Campus Graduation.  First, Darius Dukes:

Darius Dukes, 26, of Gary, was one of  two student speakers at Excel Center’s second graduation ceremony in Gary, IN.  Darius has overcome numerous obstacles to get to graduation day.  He has tried different high school programs in the past, but something was missing.  When he came to the Excel Center, he finally felt at home.  He plans to pursue a career in carpentry. 

And, we’d like to introduce you to Christina Godwin:

June 2019 Grad Christina Godwin

Christina Godwin, 32, of Gary, was the second student speaker at the Excel Center’s graduation ceremony in Gary, IN.  Christina became the matriarch of her family by taking care of her mother, in addition to her own family.  She decided to do something for herself and finish getting her high school diploma.  Her hard work has paid off. She plans to start college this fall.

We are so proud of all of our recent graduates! We wish you the best of luck in your life, and career!

Learn more about our school here. We would love to see you at the next graduation!  Go here for information on how to enroll. 

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.

Winter Fashion Trends… how to wear plaid

Mad for Plaid – how to wear plaid

Have you been shopping this season, picked up a catalog or done any online browsing for clothing and noticed plaid is a big deal in fashion trends?  Plaid everything from pants to shirts, shoes, socks, purses and home décor. Plaid is a big fashion trend this season, and the options are endless. The question really is how to wear plaid – the hot winter 2018 fashion trend!

Even if plaid isn’t a pattern you would normally wear, I am sure you will want to add something plaid into your wardrobe this season. Here are some fashion tips for how to wear plaid:

  1. What size plaid should I wear?  The size plaid should match your size.  If you are petite, choose a plaid with smaller squares. If your stature is larger you should choose a larger pattern.
  2. What color plaid should I wear? The contrast in the colors within the plaid should also match your natural contrast. Makes sense, right? In other words, look at the contrast between your hair and skin tone.  Would you say there is a big contrast (dark hair, lighter / ivory skin tone)? Then you can wear a big contrast print like white, black and hot pink.  If your natural contrast isn’t as great (like brown hair with medium skin tone or dirty blonde hair and medium skin tone) choose a plaid with hues that aren’t as bold  for instance cream, teal and grey.
  3. Do all plaids match?  Don’t get hung up on wearing the same colors or plaids in one outfit. If your personal fashion style is a little daring, try wearing different plaids in one look!
winter 2018 fashion trend plaid

Of course, your local Goodwill Store is a great place to shop for all variations of this season’s trendy plaid! And, be sure to check out our Sale Calendar to get the most out of your shopping dollars!



Wonder what to donate to Goodwill?  When you make a donation to support our cause, you join thousands of generous people who are investing in a better world. The dollars we receive are used exclusively for our programs.


When deciding what to donate to Goodwill, think about what you would give to a relative, friend or neighbor. More than likely, if it’s something you would give to them, it’s something that we could use.

Below are a few examples:

  • Clothing
  • Cloth Items
  • Shoes
  • Jewelry
  • Dolls
  • Dishes, Pots, Pans and Utensils
  • Antiques and Collectibles
  • Small Working Appliances
  • Chairs
  • Couches
  • Tables
  • Lamps
  • Beds
  • Dressers
  • Desks
This is not an exhaustive list of things to donate to Goodwill. It would be too difficult to list everything we sell in the stores. These items are the items most people are looking for when visiting our stores and tend to sell well. We like donations of all kinds, but there are some things that we can’t sell or costs us money to recycle or dispose of. These items are on our “What NOT to Donate” list. Please check this list before donating to make sure Goodwill can use them to further its mission.


We would LOVE to take your car, boat or RV and put it to great use!  For more information on how to donate your vehicle to Goodwill, please contact by sending an email or calling (574) 472-7319 and selecting option #2.

When you contact us please have the following information available:

  • Vehicle VIN#
  • Make and Model of Vehicle / Boat


The computer and computer peripheral recycling is a FREE service provided by Goodwill and our recycling partners. At Goodwill, we accept your donation of any brand of used computer equipment – working or not – through the computer recycling program. We also accept just about anything that can be connected to a computer.

Items We Accept:

  • Monitors
  • Computers
  • Printers
  • Scanners
  • Hard Drives
  • Keyboards
  • Mice
  • Speakers
  • Cords & Cables
  • Ink & Toner Cartridges
  • Software

Click HERE for more information. The Dell Reconnect program is designed for home consumers. Goodwill Industries of Michiana, Inc. is a proud participant of the Dell Reconnect program.

Whether you have one computer at home or several, bring them all to a Donation Drive-Thru at your nearest Goodwill Store. It’s FREE and you’ll get a tax receipt. Questions? Call (574) 472-7324 to speak with someone from our Industrial Services department.


It’s easy!  Go through your closets, kitchen, basement, etc. and find some things you’d like to put to good use. Click HERE to read up on some tips we’ve posted on how to declutter your home.  Pack everything up and deliver to either a drive up donation center, or to a donation drop box in your area.

For more information about Goodwill donations, please visit their Donation Page.

The things you donate help further Goodwill’s Mission to strengthen communities by empowering individuals and families through Education, Training and Job Placement.

Repurposed Picture Frame Wreath

Are you ready for Christmas? This repurposed picture frame wreath is the perfect final decoration for your home, and is an easy DIY Christmas décor project using things found at Goodwill.

What you’ll need:

  1. Frames
  2. Greenery
  3. Hot Glue Gun / Glue Sticks

Supply Run!

You’ll want to start out this repurposed picture frame wreath project by going on a supply run to your local Goodwill Store. They will have a ton of picture frame options for you to choose from!

Once you’ve picked out your frame or frames for this easy DIY Christmas décor project, head over to the Christmas aisle at Goodwill for some greenery. This is where you’ll need a little vision. Any donated Christmas arrangements will work as long as they can be disassembled.

Here’s What I Used

For my wreaths, I found a rustic wood frame, an elaborate gold frame, and a lighter wood frame. I also used an evergreen centerpiece, a potted poinsettia arrangement, and some red poinsettias I found on a previous trip. With those I was able to create three repurposed picture frame wreath decorations!

I preferred mine to be more minimal, and so was able to stretch the greenery farther. If you prefer a fuller look, you can easily add more to your own DIY Christmas décor project.

Pull It All Apart

The next thing you’ll want to do for your repurposed picture frame wreath, is disassemble your supplies. Remove any pictures and glass from your frames, and separate the greenery you found.

I pulled mine apart and piled all the similar kinds together to see what I had of each. Then I organized which piles I wanted to go with each frame. Feel free to mix and match or stick to only one. Design it however you’re inspired! The beauty of this easy DIY Christmas décor project is that you can personalize it for your own preferences.

Lay It All Out

Once you’ve decided what greenery goes with each frame, you’ll want to lay it all out to make sure you have enough and perfect how it will be arranged on the frame. Find a center point that you will be working out from. For mine, I used the corner of the frame as the center point and laid it out so the greenery met at that point.

When that’s done, you can pull out the hot glue gun and get it warmed up.

Finishing Touches

When the glue gun is all warmed up, you can start applying the greenery to your repurposed picture frame wreath. Start with the farthest greenery from the center point and work toward the center. That way, you will hide any stems or glue under the next piece. Once you get to the center, you can nest the stems and glue under pieces that are already glued down so they aren’t visible.

If you are nervous about being able to disguise the glue points, you can add your own embellishment to the center point like a ribbon or bulb. You may even have one laying around after disassembling your greenery!

Get Hanging!

After the glue dries, your easy DIY Christmas décor is ready to be displayed! You can hang your repurposed picture frame wreath, or display it from a shelf.

I was so happy with how mine turned out! They look great on their own or as the focal point of your holiday wall arrangements! Enjoy your DIY Christmas décor pieces! You can find tutorials for the DIY Winter Décor Glass Trees and picket fence DIY Stocking Hanger on my website www.ThisGrowingHome.com

Or go directly to the posts:



Hopefully you enjoyed this fun and easy DIY Christmas décor project and are already getting started on your own repurposed picture frame wreath! Check in later for more fun and easy projects supplied by your local Goodwill! And… Happy Decorating!!

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


LBD Fashion Show Oct 12 – Schererville, IN

We are all busy getting ready for the Little Black Dress Fashion Show in Schererville, IN on October 12.  We’d like you to meet one of our models as part of this month’s Goodwill Style Makeover. Janelle was a model last year, and we’re thrilled to welcome her back to the runway this year!

Be sure to get your tickets NOW for the Little Black Dress Fashion Show!  Just click this link for all the details: http://goodwillfashionshow.com/

Fall 2018 Fashion Trends – Western

As we head into Fall, it’s hard to not look at all the sweaters, leggings and boots and want to wear them now…but the temps outside aren’t cooperating.  One Fall trend you can easily start to embrace now is the Western Wear influence. This #CowboyChic take on western wear is seen in details in clothing, but especially in footwear. Western ankle boots, granny style boots and traditional cowboy boots are going to be everywhere this fall and winter. Wear an ankle bootie style now with your summer rompers and white jeans!