Spring is a time for new beginnings, and the Washington Court House Project Connect team has found one with a new partnership working at the Old Navy Outlet store in Jeffersonville.
The new connection had its beginning in March when the Washington Court House Activities and Training Center Supervisor Jennie Taylor made a social media announcement for the center’s bake sale. Misty Payton, the store manager of Old Navy, reached out and offered to donate items to support their bake sale in an effort to help with a trip the center hoped to make to Lego Land.
“Our main focus was to help get them there (to Lego Land), and that was our driving point. We were going to get them to Lego Land, and that was the end of it!” Misty said.
The district office staff in Cincinnati wanted to help, too, so they drove up with a backseat full of baked goods. Some Old Navy associates also helped staff the bake sale conducted at the Washington Court House store.
“Old Navy has been incredibly involved in our community, and I was so pleased with the amount of delicious cookies, brownies, and cakes that they brought in to support our bake sale. With Old Navy’s donations, we made over $530 and some change,” Jennie said.
It was the beginning of a sweet deal between Old Navy and the center’s Project Connect team.
“Over time, through our chats on social media, Old Navy’s management approved the team to work at their store. Our team was so excited to be able to go work at Old Navy! You see, our focus is on the growth of our workers and gaining new experiences for the team,” Jennie said.
Project Connect is a transitional work training program where groups of no more than four participants work in a Goodwill store with a Job Coach learning and sharpening customer service, janitorial, and other skills. Participants can be in the program up to two years, and when ready, are paired with an Employment Specialist when they are ready to identify and secure community employment.
In its second year, the Project Connect program, which also has teams in Hocking, Pickaway, and Ross counties, is looking to expand outside the Goodwill stores and partner with other businesses like Old Navy.
“Our goal at the Activities and Training Center is to get the Project Connect team out into the world so they see what it is like to work in a community job and gain more experiences in other work locations. We hope to get more involved with the community and to work in more stores,” Jennie explained.
While on-site, the Project Connect team works closely with Ashley McCullough, the Old Navy co-manager, and Tex Shadley, a Goodwill activities specialist and job coach.
“The team was so excited to fold the children’s clothes and set up and create the Easter display!” Jennie said of their first day at Old Navy.
The team helps with a variety of responsibilities including processing merchandise from other stores, sorting and hanging clothing, sweeping, and tidying high-traffic areas.
“Ashley taught me how to hang the clothes their way and size them,” said participant Chuck Stackhouse.
Kyler Thornburg and Robin Downard also enjoyed the new work experiences.
“It was fun to do something different,” Robin said. They all agreed the managers were very nice, and they would love to shop there. It’s been a win for Old Navy, too.
“Everything is going great!” Misty said. “We have had three visits so far, and we really enjoy working with them. They are so positive and bring so much positive energy. We have a lot of good times, but we also do a lot of work. They bring such good vibes, and we have plans for a continued partnership.”
As for plans for the money made at the bake sale – Jennie said they’re not only taking a trip to Lego Land in Columbus, but also planning to check out “Beauty and the Beast” at La Comedia, a dinner theater in Springboro, in June.
“Old Navy was such a big supporter for our event, and we would like to give them a big shout out and say, ‘Thank you!” Jennie said.