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Goodwill Completes First North County Community Soft Skills Program
By Rebecca Dravis, iBerkshires Staff
02:06AM / Monday, April 27, 2015
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Deena Gilbert, center, the volunteer who facilitated the North Adams soft skills program, is thanked for her service.

The six members of the first graduating class of the Goodwill Works Soft Skills Program in North Adams show off their certificates with Kathy Anker, manager of Workforce Development.

NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — The celebratory cake was just ... well, icing on the cake.

Six people marked the completion of the first Goodwill Works Soft Skills Program offered to the general community in North Adams with a small ceremony and cake on Wednesday morning in the offices of the Northern Berkshire Community Coalition. The six-week program previously only had been offered in Pittsfield and within the Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts Career Center.

But leaders of Goodwill of the Berkshires and Southern Vermont saw a need in North County and aimed to fill it with this program, which covers topics such as organization and decision making, customer service, self advocacy, team building, and time management with a focus on dependability, job seeking and job retention.

"This is the need for North Adams, job training," said Maryam Kamangar, the community development manager of the local Goodwill, adding that more program are in the works for North County and are listed on Goodwill's website.

Kamager attended the graduation ceremony, along with CEO Frank Engels, Fran Zarubick, the senior associate of Organizational Development, and the director and manager of Workforce Development, Eric Wilder and Kathy Anker, respectively. Engels congratulated the five men and one women and told them to include the completion of this course on their resumes as they begin their job searches.

"It shows that you have something about everybody else," he said.

Engels offered the graduates some other career advice, including the importance of networking and of being themselves.

"It doesn't matter if you're stocking shelves or running the company," he said. "Be yourself, what you learned here, and you'll be good."

The completion of the program does not end the relationship between the students and Goodwill, though. Goodwill will continue to work with the students as they embark upon job interviews and job placements whenever issues arise.

"We are still here. You're part of our team and our family," Wilder said.

Deena Gilbert, the volunteer who facilitated the North Adams workshop under the direction of Anker, said her role in guiding the conversation among  the students is an easy one, thanks to the high-quality, professional materials Goodwill provides.

"The quality of the materials that were used was top notch," she said. "This material, you could teach executives."

Gilbert said every group is different, but one thing is the same: the pride they get upon completion and the pride and accomplishment she feels as a volunteer.

"Helping people be the best they can be and making a difference in their lives is always a good thing," she said. "People underestimate the value of helping other people and the rewards you see."

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