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Goodwill Career Connection adds even more programs

Center is helping connect youth with area businesses

Published: Friday, April 29, 2016 12:29 p.m. CST • Updated: Friday, April 29, 2016 12:47 p.m. CST

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There are several unique organizations whose hard-working staff and volunteers try to improve the future for themselves and their community in the nooks and crannies of Newton DMACC’s main building.

One of those organizations is the Goodwill Career Connection Center. As a part of Goodwill of Central Iowa, the three centers — one at Newton DMACC and similar centers in Johnston and Des Moines’ Southridge Mall — help people who are in transition in their work life get things rolling.

The Newton center placed 565 people with employers in the first four months after it opened in the fall of 2014. Directed by Miranda Kulis, the Newton center has added some new perks and programming in the past 12 months, as it continues to get busier and match more clients to employers.

“The hardest part, sometimes, is getting people to believe their job situation can work out in a positive way,” Kulis said. “That’s why we try to expand services. It helps keep things optimistic.”

There is no charge for someone to use the center’s services, which range from job placement to using computer workstations to classes. Kulis said clients range in education from almost no high school completed to Ph.Ds, and in age from 13 to 95.

Here are some of the elements the GCCC has added within the past year:

• The Cardinal Career Connection is a strand of a Newton High School class that allows seniors to do “externships” at area businesses. Announced as a new 2016-17 catalog course in the NHS handbook for seniors, this program is also being utilized by the graduating class of 2016 in fields as diverse as first-responder jobs and medical to law enforcement to retail.

• The Cardinal program has gained immediate interest from parents and seniors, possibly because an April 2015 event was so successful.

Kulis and the GCCC hosted the entire NHS Class of 2015 for mock interviews, matching local employers in a room with Newton seniors to give the teens practice with the nerve wracking process of interviewing for a job. The event helped link nine students with eight employers for actual employment, helped employers see the students they will seek in the years ahead and gave the young interviewees insight about ways to overcome fears and other obstacles to getting hired.

Mock interviews were held again this year on Wednesday, when more than 150 NHS seniors attended the event at Newton DMACC.

• Advanced LinkedIn training is taught by Kulis who shows clients how to go beyond the typical left-alone basic data fields on LinkedIn.com and make the website really work to get people noticed by potential employers and others in a career field.

• Kulis was elected to a four-year term on the Newton City Council, adding to her other participation in civic leadership activities and giving her added credibility as a director who has an interest in seeing clients succeed. Not to mention, city councilors should be as knowledgeable as anyone in town about current economic circumstances and community events.

• Added a third staff member — Rachel Colburn — who will greatly aid in taking some of the office workload from Kulis and Employment Specialist Mary Beth Lawson. Kulis said volunteers at the center, such as Lawson’s son, Colby, have benefited greatly from being around the center’s resources, and more volunteers are always welcome.

The Newton GCCC can be reached through its Facebook page, by email at mirandak@dmgoodwill.org or by phone at 641-791-0424.

Contact Jason W. Brooks at 641-792-3121 ext. 6532 or jbrooks@newtondailynews.com

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