Southwestern College earns Goodwill “Good Neighbor” Recognition

Goodwill Industries–the organization founded on “a hand up, not a hand out”–has awarded Southwestern College’s Continuing Education Director Myesha Jackson its Good Neighbor Award.

Jackson and her team were recognized for the educational partnerships they have created with the organization and its clients. By offering and hosting numerous free, instructor-led classes and seminars on a variety of topics, the Continuing Education department has provided a place where locals can enrich their lives through educational, cultural and social activities. 

For many, Continuing Education is the first point-of-contact for community members looking to improve, enhance, expand or learn new skills. Through non-credit instruction, students can take free classes and earn a certificate of completion or competency recognized by the California Community Colleges Chancellor’s Office.

As director of Continuing Education for Southwestern College, Jackson oversees non-credit instruction, fee-based community service, customized training and is responsible for bridging the relationship between Goodwill and the Southwestern College community. 

“The Continuing Education Department works with Goodwill because it is the right thing to do,” Jackson said. “Goodwill is one of the most valuable organizations in the community. They care about the whole person and show it in many ways, including community employment programs and services, discounted prices in retail stores and the skills they give to their ambassadors through career training programs.” 

This collaboration has offered educational opportunities to Goodwill ambassadors and job seekers. At the beginning of the collaboration, Jackson and her team met with Goodwill leaders to understand the organization’s educational needs and to find innovative ways to make education accessible. This resulted in workshops based on Conflict Resolution, Communication in the Workplace, Online Applications, Resume Building and Ace-ing the Interview. The classes were offered at Goodwill’s San Ysidro Community Employment Center.

Classes filled up quickly and the first cohort of 12 ambassadors earned local certificates of participation in 2019. Classes will resume in person again in Spring semester 2022.  

Andrew MacDonald is a true testament to the effectiveness of these programs. MacDonald met with Southwestern’s Continuing Education Team Member Diane Atienza, who helped him update his LinkedIn profile and helped him navigate through the job site.

“Diane and Southwestern College have been immensely helpful in preparing me for interviews by other employers and has helped me update my resume by improving my job readiness skills,” MacDonald said. “They have been a vital resource to my success in getting ready for the workforce. I appreciate everything they have done for me and am immensely grateful for everything they have helped me with.” 

After taking “Stepping Stones to Success in the Workplace” at Southwestern College, MacDonald received his Job Readiness Certificate from Goodwill Industries of San Diego at the end of the fall semester 2020, demonstrating reliability, commitment, initiative and productivity. 

Myesha Jackson accepting the Goodwill Good Neighbor Award
Myesha Jackson accepting the Goodwill Good Neighbor Award
Myesha Jackson accepting the Goodwill Good Neighbor Award
Myesha Jackson accepting the Goodwill Good Neighbor Award

The Continuing Education courses are beneficial to ambassadors’ success because they can apply their newly honed skills and tools directly in the workplace, Jackson said. The collaboration continues to cater to the needs of the overall community. 

Jackson looks to grow the customer service offerings and tailor some of the coursework to focus on people who need assistance in the workplace. She said she is excited Southwestern College and Goodwill will be partnering to provide customer service and disability support service classes through a Job Readiness Certificate Program. 

“These new offerings give our students the opportunity for employment with Goodwill and other local employers,” Jackson said. “We want to do more of this work because Southwestern and Goodwill are both invested in supporting the student.”

In accepting her award last month, Jackson credited the many people in her department who have supported this endeavor. 

“Though I lead this effort and am very grateful for this award, I want to give credit where it is due,” Jackson said 

“After initial conversations with the Southwestern College Continuing Education Team, like Shawn Fiala, Sergio Rosas, Ashley Czech, Diane Record, Jennifer Lewis and Melissa Esten, our partners at Goodwill, Patti Stanford, Ruth Davis and our ambassadors, Sweetwater Adult School members Crystal Robinson, Sara Garcia Delagado and Ryan Burk, and our California Adult Education Program advisory members, we discovered a need for Job Readiness classes to our disabled students. 

“Thank you all for always being willing and committed to helping the community achieve their educational and professional goals,” Jackson said. 

Goodwill was founded in 1902 by the Rev. Edgar J. Helms. He collected used household goods and clothing from wealthier parts of the cities and then hired those who were poor to mend and repair the articles. The goods were then resold or given to the people who repaired them. Thus Goodwill’s philosophy of “a hand up, not a hand out” was born.