The thrift-store find humble brag is a Maine thing. We rock an outfit, accept a compliment and one-up it with the likes of, “I got it at Goodwill for $12, including the shoes!”

There was a lot of that at Goodwill’s annual Little Black Dress event April 25 at Ocean Gateway, as 38 Mainers got gussied up and walked the runway in their Goodwill finds. The event raised a record-breaking $91,000 for the Goodwill Veterans Access Fund.

“This is such a coming together of who we are and what we do, everything from being able to go into a store and find great treasures, as well as supporting our mission,” said Kossi Gamedah, Goodwill’s senior vice president of retail.

Since its inception, the Goodwill Veterans Access Fund has received 1,891 applications and awarded over $757,000 in grants. The average grant awarded is $560.

“If a veteran is having a hard time making rent, getting their car fixed or filling their oil tank, and if we can help, we do,” said Goodwill Administrator Dick Arthur. “There are other programs that do specific things, but this fills in some gaps.”

“We realized some people needed a little more support beyond short-term grants for immediate needs,” said Goodwill Northern New England President Rick Cantz, introducing the Veterans Job Connection program.

The struggles for our veterans go beyond the financial,” said Kimberly Foskett, Goodwill’s job connection team lead. “We support each person as they tackle each barrier.”

“When I got out of the Navy, I started working in restaurants, and the same structure wasn’t there,” said Lindsey Bickford of Gorham. “I spent years in a rut I thought I’d never get out of.”

Through the Goodwill Job Connection program, she took skills and personality assessments that showed she would likely be successful in finance, and she’s been happy working for a credit union for the past half a year. “I actually have a career path and something to work toward,” Bickford said.

Amy Paradysz is a freelance writer and photographer based in Scarborough. She can be reached at [email protected]

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