Using GoodWill To Make The Holidays Affordable And Bright

I am excited to be partnering with Goodwill®  to help show ways to make the Holidays brighter, save money, and  support my community. Goodwill reimbursed my costs for shopping and craft supplies

Like many teens, I’m on a super strict budget, but I have  a list of people that I want to give gifts to for the Holidays.  I have a very good friend who lives all the way across the country but we are connected through our love of One Direction- specifically Harry Styles. I wanted to give her something stylish and personal, so I decided to make it, and I headed to Goodwill to get what I needed. I needed a perfect jacket!

I’ve been buying clothing from thrift stores and remaking them into cool clothing for myself for a while, so I knew what to look for. I snagged the PERFECT Denim jacket and headed home to making it awesome with some fabric paints, stencils and my creativity!

I got a great jacket for only $12.00- a fraction of the cost at a store!   Using stencils made it so much easier!

I love the way the jacket turned out, and I know that she will, too!

Ally Del Monte

I also love that while I saved money buying what I need for gifts at Goodwill, I’m also supporting their mission to give back to the community. That’s why I love shopping at my local Goodwill store this time of year – because I know I can find a good bargain, and also support a great cause. Did you know that 87 cents on the dollar of every purchase from a Goodwill goes towards local job training opportunities? It’s easy to find your local store- just go to the Goodwill Website.  You never know what treasures you will find there, but you can be confident you’ll be helping your local community! 

Here are some things to know about Goodwill:

  • Goodwill provides job preparation, skills training, education assistance and support services to millions of people each year who are facing challenges to finding employment.
  •  Every 23 seconds, someone gets a job through the help of Goodwill.
  •  Goodwill is an entrepreneurial leader, environmental pioneer and social innovator of the “reduce, reuse, repurpose” practice. Through its entrepreneurial business model of collecting and selling donated goods, Goodwill helps communities extend the life of usable items in environmentally sound ways.
  • ·Goodwill functions as a social enterprise by creating 25 jobs per brick-and-mortar store, generating essential revenue for mission services, and providing a direct solution for donors and communities to the issue of sustainability regarding unwanted goods.

I know that she’s going to love the jacket and she’s going to love that I made it just for her.  I love that I’m able to give her something that is perfect for her-  while helping Goodwill help others in my community.

Do YOU have someone special that you want to make something personal for this holiday season?  Tell me about it in the comments!


We Need Employers Who Care About Mental Health, and to Plan For When They Don’t.

Have you seen the exchange between Madalyn Parker, and her boss, Ben Congleton?  She sent an email to her team saying that she was taking a few days off to take care of her mental health.  She was open and honest about it.  He boss’ response astonished a lot of people:

Her boss was supportive of her need to take care of herself- including her mental health.  As a person who struggles with anxiety and depression, the support of someone who recognized that taking care of yourself mentally is just as important as taking care of yourself physically is astounding Not every boss is like that.

Mental health is still stigmatized.  I know that a lot of people wouldn’t hesitate to call in sick to a job if they had a flu, but would try to soldier through having an anxiety attack.  I know. I’ve done it.  There is sympathy when you’re physically ill, but annoyance when you’re mentally ill.  I know, I’d dealt with it.  I had a slight recurrence of Conversion Disorder as I was dealing with the death of my Step-Grandma, and when I called in sick to work, I was chastised for not coming in.  I wasn’t able to use my legs well, and was walking with a walker, but it was made very plain to me that missing work was not only inconveniencing the manager, but my co-workers as well. In fact, I was told that they were going to  “reassess my employment” if I continued to miss work. I had missed ONE day.  However, the co-worker who had recently had an accident wasn’t shamed for calling in.   I felt terrible about missing work, but I couldn’t WALK.  After talking to my psychiatrist, my parents, and thinking about what was best for me, I quit that job.

I quit because I felt that taking care of my mental health was worth more than a job that was making me sick with stress. I was lucky I was in a position to quit. I live at home with my parents, I have another job managing the social media for my local animal shelter, and I had firm grasp of my finances.

My parents taught me from a young age to be careful with my money.  I usually have a budget and know what I can spend, and how much to save. Of course I blow money, but I am also  saving for a car, travel, and concert tickets.  I use a site, Feed The Pig.org , that has a budget planning and ways to help you reach goals.  For instance, I use a Goal planner to save money for a car, while putting money away in an emergency fund and still having cash to go out and have fun.   I also used it’s credit card calculators to see if was the right time to get a credit card.  It wasn’t.

Knowing that I had an emergency fund to fall back on while I looked for another job is what made it easier  for me to decide to take care of myself.  Just as I planned on ways to take care of my mental health, I also planned on ways to take care of my financial health.


Getting Real About Mental Illness

The other day I was waiting in line to see Harry Styles on The Today show, when someone asked me something. In a non-malicious way, a new friend had asked me- “How are you able to be so open about your mental illness? Aren’t you scared sometimes that people are going to judge you for it?”

I was able to explain it to them but I thought maybe I would share it with you all, too.

Mental illness is nothing to be ashamed of.

I’m not ashamed of the fact that I have depression and anxiety. It’s a fact, it’s an illness. I treat it with medication and proper therapy and I can keep it under control. I will never be ashamed of it. I’m not afraid to tell people I have Lyme disease, just the same as I’m not afraid to tell them I have depression. Though different, they’re both treatable illnesses.

If someone wants to judge me on having depression and anxiety, they aren’t the type of people I want in my life. I’ve had my fair share of friends who didn’t “get it”, told me that I just needed to get over it and stop being nervous, stop being sad, that it’s all for attention even after I’ve tried to calmly explain why it is I feel the things I do sometimes. Those aren’t my ‘friends’ anymore.

I don’t want people in my life that are going to treat me as a joke, act as if it’s embarrassing when I speak about my own mental health.

Lastly, I talk about mental illness and I speak of it so casually, because not a lot of people will. Like my friend Whitney said,  Living life with mental illness can be living life in a Ghost Story. Slowly but surely it’s getting better, but we still have this stigma behind mental illness. It isn’t embarrassing, it should not be a taboo topic, it should be something talked about and recognized by more people as actual illnesses so we can treat them, and spread awareness to what they actually are. Education should be spread.

I also speak so that if someone else is struggling, they won’t feel so alone. Maybe if I talk about it to someone they can open up and understand that they may have an issue, or they see it isn’t only them struggling. They can see how I went from such a dark place and came out of it. I want people to see they can achieve things and do what they want even with these illnesses.

                    Every time I speak about my mental illness,       I help end the stigma. 

I like to keep it real, and I’ll be the first to admit that my anxiety as of late has gotten much much worse. I was recently hospitalized for a week, paralysed,  with Conversion Disorder.  It isn’t something that just goes away but it can get better. With extra therapy and medication, I am so much better.  My depression is better, too.

My new friend understood, and actually thanked me for speaking about it. But the conversation we had afterwards about it was so rewarding, being able to help someone feel a bit better about their own illnesses and feel a bit of hope, it’s all worth it to me.