Close this search box.

Paid Advertisement

Close this search box.

The Goodwill of empowering Baltimore adults through education and job training at Excel Center


Paid Advertisement

Podcast Audio Vault


Paid Advertisement

Let Goodwill’s Lisa Rusyniak update you on the benefits and victories of their newest adult high school education Excel Center on Redwood Street downtown. Plus the mission beyond the job training programs and efforts to reduce waste and repurpose items through collaboration with recycling.


folks, goodwill, talking, place, good, year, stores, summer, redwood, landfill, school, maryland, part, crab cake, english, week, center, job, high school diploma, lisa


Nestor J. Aparicio, Lisa Rusyniak

Nestor J. Aparicio  00:01

Welcome home we are W NSTA and 5070, Towson, Baltimore and Baltimore positive Happy Holidays everybody out there celebrating the summer. Hopefully you’re getting the hamburgers, hotdogs, watermelon, corn on the cob, crab cakes, crabs, whatever it is steamed shrimp which I’m in the mood for lately it’s good thing because I can have all of those things on next Friday we’re going to be down at fade Lee’s in the beautiful brand new Lexington market. During the show all of that brought to you by our friends at the Maryland lottery we’ll have the Gold Rush sevens doublers to give away next Friday before the Yankees take on the Orioles. I have a feeling one will be in first place and want to be in second place. I hope it’s us by then. But a whole West Coast thing ahead for all of that our friends at Jiffy Lube multi care keeping us out on the road in the Maryland crabcake tour and powering up the Maryland oyster tour come September as well as our friends at Liberty pure solutions keeping our water crystal clear around here we have you know we have old friends who like catch up with you’re in summertime. It’s been a little while. Anybody knows me knows that I have a great affinity for the work the folks that goodwill of greater Chesapeake here do. And locally, we’ve given boxes of stuff. I’ve taken pictures. We’ve had Lisa sitting back on one of our defending champions here. Many, many moons ago. She said to me, we build the school. It’s the XL center one day. And it’s here and it’s functioning. And it’s exciting. And it’s the summer and jobs and we we don’t have masks on anymore. Lisa, here we go. And I mean we even three to go rock and roll. And I know you do that from time to time as to why how was your summer hours things in Excel and just spent a little while is life good? Yeah.


Lisa Rusyniak  01:37

Well, thanks for having me on. Thanks for going great summers doing. So great start. So I’ll catch you up on our adult high school.


Okay, please do.

Lisa Rusyniak  01:51

Did my camera go?

Nestor J. Aparicio  01:52


Yes, I think it did. There you go.

Lisa Rusyniak  01:56

Okay. All right. So I know we opened last September, we’ve had two terms, and we’re about to do the third term coming up. Now this is an adult high school, meaning anybody over 21, who for whatever reason, didn’t get their high school diploma, maybe they had to drop out, and they had to go to work. Whatever the reason is, they can come to our school, we apply whatever credits they have. And we’ll give them credit for that. And then they are tested and put into varying classes depending on where they test out. So it’s just like high school, like you remember, like English and history and social studies and science, all of that. But we have a dropped in daycare center. So for the parents who have small children under three, they can drop their child off, and we have an onsite Care Center. And they can come down and visit, bother in between classes or whatever, get a break. And they can say all day, these are eight week terms. And we already have our first graduating class coming up in September, we’re gonna have about 1314 folks who will be getting the high school diploma. It’s just incredible. The

Nestor J. Aparicio  03:15

folks that come to you, and just as it’s new, and I’m sure you base this on some other place and you had numbers and you had goals, and all those things. We started out. What have you learned a year into this? Are these are English first, folks that probably a lot of them local, I would think or you know, in a general sense that didn’t make it through high school for life’s tragedies or problems gotten their way. Are we talking about people in their 20s 30s 40s 50s, who’s coming to you primarily right now?

Lisa Rusyniak  03:50

The average age is, you know, late 20s. Oh, there we have 280 year old ladies that wanted to get their high school diploma I never finished. And so it’s really all over the place. And it’s really for anybody who, you know, for whatever reason didn’t get their diploma. But I guess we are pretty split right now with men and women, but about a third of our students are non English speakers.



Non non zero. English

Lisa Rusyniak  04:27

is not their native language language. We have classes for them. We have a few bilingual staff members that can help them get their education.

Nestor J. Aparicio  04:40

My father came here from Venezuela and his English, he died. His English wasn’t good. I mean, literally went back to Venezuela in the 80s. So I mean, I’m very familiar with that. That barrier. I mean, it’s an incredible barrier in our culture if you don’t speak English. Yeah,

Lisa Rusyniak  04:55


yeah. And you had a lot of Spanish speaking, but about half of our Our English as a Second Language classes, we have a good portion of Nigerians South American, it’s it’s all over the place all over 90% of our students are Baltimore City residents.

Nestor J. Aparicio  05:15

Well, so these are sort of hyperlocal what you wanted to but where is it located? Take everybody a little bit of a background because I’m familiar with sort of bricks and mortar on Redwood Street from back in the days and you were doing a lot there in regard to, you know, I want to say CVS and sort of the space of being cashiers having skipped math skills, basic skills. What is the curriculum there at this point? And where are you physically located? Because we talked so much about transportation and ease of access. You’re, you’re in the primary area where most people would think is the middle of downtown, right? Yeah,

Lisa Rusyniak  05:54

we are right downtown 22 East Redwood Street. And so we have the Excel Center, on floor like the ground floor up to the fourth floor. And then the fifth and sixth floor are for our traditional workforce development program. So we still have the certified nursing assistant training, the pharmacy tech training flagger. safes are all of our computer training, all that still taking place at Redwood Street. And all our admin offices moved out to Gateway. Off of 95.

Nestor J. Aparicio  06:30

Sure, yeah. 95 stuff. Kaitlan Avenue area. Yeah, exactly. Exactly. Lisa sitting AQIS, our guests, she runs things for our friends at Goodwill, I got my goodwill shirt on last night. Remember, we were together, then at the convention center on an annual basis, you guys do this huge of a food drive and feeding folks for the holidays. And in November and December. And I think everybody is familiar. Your name came up over the weekend. It wasn’t rock and roll. It was my wife who were cleaning, you know is this summer, my wife broke her ankle. We’re trying to get stuff out. We’re having a holiday party for the fourth. And you know, she has this thing for Goodwill, we, hey, let’s take this to Goodwill. And people know of you is a place to drop stuff off in the front or the back depending on and a place to shop. And we would encourage folks that thrifting is just like such a big thing these days. Right? But but but also, this whole job training thing we saw I’m I mean no offense, and I’ve been wanting your spokespeople, but I bet if I reach to 100 people on the street said goodwill, they say place I take the stuff I can’t use and they do nice things with it. Or the place I bought a couple of nice things in there. I found something on the cheap for 10 bucks or whatever. But they don’t know and I know you try so hard and it’s such a basis of what you do. But I think we get together and talk sometimes they just don’t understand what my eyes have seen in Redwood Street when you start talking about training and and and pharmacy tech and these jobs trainees I’ve been to your luncheons fancy schmancy with Jane Miller and honoring young people that were really on the fringe that you brought in and gave them a skill and they’re out really performing at a high level. And I know you’ve been doing this forever.



27 years. 27 277 years.

Lisa Rusyniak  08:20

Yeah, I mean, Goodwill’s have that problem all over the country. They’re 155 Goodwill’s across the country if you can believe that. And we’re all very independent, because we are serving the needs of our specific communities. So we’re focused, you know, hyper focused on Baltimore City, because that’s our territory. But they’re Goodwill’s all over the place. You all have the same problem. We all have donors, we all have shoppers, but no one really knows our mission. And something new that I need to tell you about is that we are in partnership with goodwill, Greater Washington and goodwill of Delaware and Delaware counties. And we formed a separate Corporation. And what we are doing is taking the glass out of the stores that doesn’t sell because highly breakable and we would just be taking it to a landfill. We are taking it we’re going to put it through these pulverizing machines and it takes all the hard edges off the glass and actually goes through a filtration system and makes sand and we are going to be selling the sand to construction companies. Were talking to the Delaware Department of Environment about sand beach replenishment so lots of different uses. But in Maryland

Nestor J. Aparicio  09:41

guy and I just sent somebody out to Bethany this weekend. It’s it’s a robot so some Midwestern so good well help the Delaware folks I’m not eating their crab cakes just yet. I’m still on the Maryland side. You know with the Maryland lottery I’m a crab cake they’re trying to get me across the border but they you know the part of the glass that’s amazing is I’ve been places where you can come clearly see there’s a glass element in the asphalt Right. So there’s, you know, I put you mentioned landfill. And you know, my wife and I passed the one Baltimore County up a Warren road. And, you know, as we go across to cockys Ville, we see the birds circling at three south of the mall area and the town center. Landfills is like really a big, big part of what you guys are doing and trying not to do, which is so much stuff is just discarded, right. And there’s so many uses for things that wind up in a box dumped off, quite frankly, at your back door with, you know, there’s rules and regulations, but you get stuff that sort of like, what am I going to do with this, and the landfill thing is just something that we all want to avoid that, yeah,

Lisa Rusyniak  10:48


we’re trying to keep as much as we can out of the landfill, we actually are talking to some other folks who want to buy the plastic that doesn’t sell in our stores. Because they are using it in the manufacture of new goods, like buckets, Home Depot, Home Depot, Home Depot buckets, you know, everybody’s got one of those in their garage, right? So usually orange, Yeah, everybody’s gonna be clamoring to buy our plastics, because it can be used repurpose, and save goodwill money, we spend about half a million dollars just in trash, receptacle donated, that doesn’t sell or gets broken, or what have you, if you don’t sell it in the store or in the outlet. So our goal is to hopefully by the end of the year, we’re also talking about what we can do to keep clothing as the landstar keep it out of our salvage our salvage business, which, you know, 90% goes overseas, and depending on what country it goes to, some of the items in our bales may not be needed. And so that’s why you see these pictures of National Geographic of somebody in Africa wearing a Nike shirt, you know, how did he get a Nike shirt. And that’s how, because we saw it for salvage, and it gets sold overseas, but it’s also we don’t do any sorting with it. So we’re hoping if we can do a sort sortation on our premises in a centralized fashion, and then we can actually, you know, create bales, based on the climate, etc, then there’ll be a lot more waste, less waste in the environment as a whole. And then the rest we can sell in the nick grinds on them for you know, car detailers, that kind of stuff, you know, old rags. So we’re trying to just repurpose everything and everything as a landfill. That’s the ultimate goal. Our

Nestor J. Aparicio  12:40

friends at Goodwill always trying to think things through a little bit of strategy, or at least for Sydney, actually, how many years you’ve been running? They are friends here at Goodwill credit chsp. Yeah,


2727 26

Lisa Rusyniak  12:52

and a half. And we 27 in January. Yeah,


Nestor J. Aparicio  12:55

I remember when you brought the XL project to me, maybe it was played time, maybe 1920 21. And it was funding and we talked about that. And then we talked about we got it, we’re going to do it, then. Here we go. We’re going to MIT and now a year into having it the most ambitious project that you’ve taken on in the 27 years. Absolutely.

Lisa Rusyniak  13:16

Yeah, this is this was my goal. This was my dream. I was saying, you know, I joked and I said, Well, once I opened, like my school, and then I’ll retire, I didn’t realize that I was going to be opening one, you know, and it all came to fruition. Now I want to open maybe to three more. Because I think that, you know, you asked me why don’t we just something I learned over the last year, it’s that there’s so much demand. And we started out being able to serve about 150 students, we’ve had more than tripled that in the demand with our waiting list is over 500. So we need more school, in selecting

Nestor J. Aparicio  13:57

people to come in what is that process like? And I mean, you don’t want to be betting on or against people, certainly at that level of just trying to get back into society and get a job and they’re, I guess, aggressive enough and interested enough to come down and want to apply. How is that the graduation part of that been the first year? I mean, it’s never 100% At any point, I cover college sports as you know, but but, but finding the right people to come in that are going to give get the outcome that you want and need them to have for the program for it to be successful. Yeah,

Lisa Rusyniak  14:36


but the people that we’re serving want to be there, so it’s not mandatory. So our attrition is very, very low. I mean, I’m gonna say less than 10% and even those who for whatever reason, had to take a break, maybe, you know, their parents got sick or they just had to take a break, come back. Because and we’re not strict about what the requirements are to get in. You just cannot have a high school diploma and you have to be over 21 period, we have life coaches that will help. You know, folks, if they are food insecure, or they don’t have a permanent place to live, or they’re having any kind of domestic violence issues, substance abuse, we work with all these other folks in their community. That’s how helps bridge those needs for the students while they’re in our program, or while they’re in school. So we have people that are really cheering on these folks, they really want to become independent, they want to skill and this may be the first time they ever achieved anything. Getting a high school diploma, it’s just, it’s just life changing for so many people.

Nestor J. Aparicio  15:41

I would also say the wraparound part, you talk about that. And I you know, I can’t fathom that 55 And I graduated at 16. And I’ve moved on my way and life. But I’ve seen so many people and I’ve lived in the city and folks that want or even holding a sign up, I saw the other day I want a job, you’re holding a sign of say and what the skill level would be, especially at a time when employment was was more tough than it’s been lately. We have a high employment rate in the country right now, point that out. But folks that do come to you that that wrap around part, whether it’s I have a child, I have a sick parent, I have debt, I have physical ailment of any of those things that’s sort of part and parcel right there. There’s always going to come an issue or two that come with most of these folks who don’t have a diploma and want to get back into the workforce, that there’s going to be something else you have to attend to aside from just trying to educate them. And I think you understand that maybe more so than your school system, or anyone else could could understand the adult market that you’re prepared for that you’re prepared specifically to help that adult.

Lisa Rusyniak  16:50

Exactly, exactly. And I think that there are a lot more people that need our help, that don’t even know about us yet. So I expect that we’ll have a very good success story to take back to the legislature, legislature next year, when we, you know, we have to keep our money, that’s the EPA governors line item for a million dollars for us. For our school, we got to keep going back and making sure it stays in there. And then of course, we want to get more funding to open more schools and you know, our capacity at Redwood Street, we can go up to 300 students. So right now we’re at about 175, which is really a little bit more than we should be serving. But we’re squeezing people and trying to make sure that we can fill every seat and get as many people in as we can. Let’s

Nestor J. Aparicio  17:38

we’re sitting here she’s with the good folks that good will industries here. You can reach him at Goodwill chest, that’s ch e s like, like And we’ve done a lot of work them in the past. And I remember our fun Halloween ravens parties, I find those old pictures, we had the 25th anniversary documentary that came out this year, we had some fun with that. And I guess more than that the stores that we pass and the box, actually their bags are not boxes, they’re bags of old swag and things that I want to gift to you give everybody the framework for what we know of goodwill, now that we’ve told them about all the good stuff you do, the basics are their stores, and they’re everywhere. And it’s thrift. And in the era where I’m buying these crazy Pacific a bulk buckles, sometimes they come in to you and they wind up online, which you have a whole online component that folks need to be aware of as well. But that’s sort of core. And it goes without saying and I don’t know what the economy does to you. And I don’t know what online does or doesn’t do. And it’s been a little while since we connect maybe about a year, year and a half since you’ve been on the show. I think the economy’s different, life’s different right now, how the store is doing. And I you have them literally, I pass them when I do the crabcake tour in all parts of the state. And I’m like, that’s one of these places. That’s a goodwill place. And I’m shocked by how many communities you’re in as much as any chain would be in any community. Right? Yeah.


Lisa Rusyniak  19:01

33 stores in the region, including the Eastern Shore. Yeah, and people don’t realize every time you donate, you’re helping somebody get a job or get training because all the proceeds from what we sell in the stores funds our mission. And that’s that’s why people don’t really understand because they don’t make the connection of what happens to the money that that we make in the stores and that’s that’s where it goes and funds all of our mission programs across the state. Well,

Nestor J. Aparicio  19:28

I’ll tell you what, I appreciate you all these years in and I’m sending everybody out to support you guys here this summer. My wife has a she’s a box and I have a bag but my bags might be bigger than her box I don’t know. You prefer bags or boxes boxes, right because we break those down and we can recycle those reuse those right? I

Lisa Rusyniak  19:48

recycled the plastic bags to I saw them to trucks we bailed them and we found the trucks and trucks use it uses it in their manufacturing process to make the decking material

Nestor J. Aparicio  20:01


You don’t know anything do you? I mean, if I learned nothing about this What does get wasted? What is literally is there? What’s left? Like I need some hangers? I mean, are you a good place for me to go buy some hang? Like I’m thinking what happens to the core of the core of something that stuff my wife finds in the woods when she’s walking trails or breaking her ankles?

Lisa Rusyniak  20:23

You know, I don’t know if they could find hangers. But that’s probably one of the things that we are we have we recycle metal too. I was gonna say metal might go to landfill but no, we don’t we we recycle the metal we got to so I don’t think we’re gonna have much to talk about with waste. You’re

Nestor J. Aparicio  20:39

not trying to waste it. I like this. This is kind of I guess my parting message to you would be my bag her box. We get it there and you’ll take good care of it. No matter what we do. Right. We will make the most of it. Our friends will have always been the community doing the right thing. We always appreciate the time with Lisa. Any good concert I can’t let you out of here without I saw. I had Greg Hawkes on the show last week, the original keyboard player from the cars and he put a band together on Saturday night. Danna RAM said and I went with pretty high expectations because I love the cars. So I was probably going to have a good time. Either way. It was outrageously good. I’ve seen some really good hooting the blowfish was great last week. They’re coming back again. So it’s a good summer for concerts. I think here. Yeah,

Lisa Rusyniak  21:25

I am going to see yellow. Okay. And I’m going to see Chicago and Earth Wind and Fire. You have a really


Nestor J. Aparicio  21:34

wide palette. That’s good. That’s good. For Lenny Kravitz to get out on the road we got San Diego are going out later this summer. So Pat Benatar is next couple of weeks. Please go see Pat Benatar if you haven’t seen Pat Benatar. I saw her last year. She was the best show I saw last year. So I’m really like working into this DC Hershey thing the next two weeks. So classic rocker in you. I know. I know that about you. Lisa. We’re sitting back is she runs all thanks. A Chesapeake. Goodwill of Chesapeake we want to send everybody out to Goodwill, C H. E. S, you know about and I’ve been doing this for a long, long time around here. We like to support our local friends here. Whether it’s a retail retail store and donation center, and certainly the new XL center that it does, it’s new to everybody else. But it’s like I’ve been talking about it for a couple of years around here. It’s now up and running and serving the community and graduating folks and continuing the mission that the good folks at Goodwill do have a great summer at least. Cakes and crabs. Stay away from the oysters. I know you’re not an oyster person. That just means more for me in September, in a month with an R so come on out and have a crab cake on the oyster tour about that. Wonderful.

Lisa Rusyniak  22:44

Thank you. Thanks for having me on. lessor. Synack. Always pleasure

Nestor J. Aparicio  22:47

to have her back on the program here at Baltimore positive so many things we’re doing this summer including the Maryland crab cake tour, which we get back out on the road on the 12th of July. That’s next Friday, Yankees and Orioles for first place before the all star break. It’s all brought to my friends at the Maryland lottery. I will have the Gold Rush sevens. doublers to give away we had a $20 winner Coco’s two weeks ago. Our friends at Pappus last week. It’s just been a big big month around here and a big here in our 25th anniversary. Big appreciation Liberty pure solutions for putting us out on the road with clean water as well as Jiffy Lube. Multi care keeping us on the road back on the road again. It’s summertime. The Orioles are playing great out on the West Coast loose Scotch covered all the sports and all the baseball as we get ready for football season and a few weeks as well. We are wn st am 1570, Towson Baltimore. And we never stop talking Baltimore positive

Share the Post:

Paid Advertisement

Right Now in Baltimore

Thomas Dolby: A Totally Tubular 80s music fest that is poetry in motion

Our resident professor in residence at Johns Hopkins and 80s MTV icon Thomas Dolby returns with Nestor at State Fare on the Maryland Crab Cake Tour to discuss his new book, new hair and Totally Tubular 80s Tour this summer…

Smalltimore, sports and the trust of local news

As the Maryland Crab Cake Tour always seeks to introduce mutual old friends of ours and network to make new friends, this time its our favorite family chiropractor and philosopher Steve Elliott joining longtime WBAL broadcaster John Patti and Nestor…

It's your move, Mike Elias...

Luke Jones and Nestor assess the work ahead to improving the Baltimore Orioles pitching before the July 31st trading deadline. A starter? A pair of relievers? And at what cost...

Paid Advertisement

Scroll to Top