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Meet Goodwill’s Ambassador of the Year: Jennifer Hicks

Jennifer Hicks is a 31-year-old nurse practitioner who specializes in helping people with drug addiction. She is married to Jordan Hicks, and they have two children — Lucy, 2, and Joaquin, 4 months. Originally from Ontario, Ore., Jennifer moved to Nashville in 2013, earning her doctorate degree from Belmont University.

Jennifer was selected as Goodwill’s Ambassador of the Year for 2020 after the nonprofit organization put out a call on social media for examples of people who love shopping and donating to Goodwill and are passionate about Goodwill’s mission of changing lives through education, training and employment.

In nominating Jennifer, her sister Cristina Jaramillo wrote, “She cares about public health and her community. She also cares about the environment. … Her job can be stressful, which is why she chooses to thrift. … For Jennifer, Goodwill has added a level of joy that is hard to replicate. She LOVES Goodwill.”

Following are excerpts from a Nov. 10 conversation with Jennifer:

Q: When did you begin thrift shopping?

A: I have basically been addicted to Goodwill since I was 18. But I grew up going to thrift stores with my mom — those are some of my first memories. I loved looking at the books and getting new little toys, and it was just so fun. 

Q: What drew you to Goodwill in college?

A: I liked what Goodwill does. It’s like a full circle: It allows people to purchase things, and that generates money for job services. It also supplies people with jobs and training. And people who donate also contribute. It was really cool to see all the ways Goodwill helps and how many opportunities there were to give back.

Q: How often do you shop?

A: A ton. Like, three times a week (laughs). It’s really awesome, because it’s my stress relief after work. My husband is so wonderful. He says, “When is your Goodwill time?” I go Monday, Wednesday and Saturday. It’s scheduled because we have a crazy life, but I need my thrifting time.

Q: What kinds of things do you buy?

A: My sister who lives in Seattle came to visit, and she was like, “Lucy has the coolest toys.” You would think that I would spend a lot of money on her toys, but I don’t. I find them all at Goodwill. I also buy and resell a lot, because I get a lot of really good deals. For myself, I buy a lot of awesome workout gear. I am also an avid golfer, and I’ve gotten some clubs from Goodwill. I got my golf bag from there and golf gear like polos. Most of our kids’ clothes come from Goodwill, because it’s so inexpensive … .

Q: Why are you laughing? 

A: Because almost everything I have is from Goodwill! It’s so funny — I’ve never verbalized it. But it’s OK, because I know when I buy from Goodwill, I’m giving toward a good mission. I blame my parents. They both love to buy second-hand — it’s a treasure hunt. 

Q: Any other reasons you shop?

A: I am involved with the children’s ministry at our church — The Hills Nashville — and I purchase props, games, activities, etc. from Goodwill. I am looking now for a ridiculous sports coat for my husband to wear this week for a kids church video he is shooting.

Q: Is there an environmental reason for your thrifting?

A: My husband and I try to do things sustainably. We use cloth diapers and we compost (they once made a compost bin from items purchased at Goodwill). Growing up in Oregon, it’s part of the culture — recycle, reduce your carbon footprint — I definitely carried that here and converted my husband. And that’s absolutely another reason why I thrift: because I’m not contributing to fast fashion, and when I buy things, I wear them for a long time. Whenever I buy something, I think, “Am I going to wear this seven times?” It has helped me not buy impulsively. 

Q: What’s your favorite Goodwill find?

A: I find a lot of amazing, expensive Patagonia jackets that I have given as gifts or given away to friends. One cool thing I am doing this year is all my Christmas gifts are going to be thrifted. I’m not buying anything new. I have already scored some amazing Lululemon, Patagonia, Madewell, Aerie, Titans gear, workout gear, purses, etc., for everyone. It’s the gift that keeps on giving!

Q: Where did you get your Instagram handle — ThriftingBird?

A: It’s a nickname I got when I was really little from friends and family. Even my husband calls me Bird. I don’t know where it came from. I post lots of my thrifting finds to Instagram. I started the page recently because I wanted to show other people you can get really amazing things second-hand and don’t have to go out and buy new.

Q: Any Goodwill shopping tips for the rest of  us?

A: When the employees bring out the new stuff to put on the racks, take a quick peek at those racks. And go to Goodwill with a little bit of time — look at every single thing. Whenever I go on Saturday, I usually stay two hours. My husband knows when I call and tell him I’m going to check out that I will be another 45 minutes because it’s soooo addicting (laughs). 

Q: How does it feel to be Goodwill’s Ambassador of the Year?

A: At first, I chuckled because it was totally unexpected. Then I called my husband, and he said, “If anyone deserves this award, it’s you.” I do talk to people a lot about Goodwill. It comes up so easily. Somebody will say, “I like your bag” or “I like your shoes,” and I’ll say, “Oh thanks, I got it at Goodwill.” I hope that through this, people are able to see the wonderful things about thrifting, sustainable living and, most of all, the amazing things Goodwill does in our communities.

Jennifer Hicks shops Goodwill and meets Goodwill’s mascot, Goodwilly, at her favorite store on Berry Road in Nashville. She also loves the Goodwill Outlet on Cockrill Bend in Nashville and the Rivergate Goodwill store in Madison.

Follow Jennifer on Instagram 

Click the following links to find and follow Goodwill Industries of Middle Tennessee on social media.

  • Mari Humphrey
    Posted at 10:24h, 18 November Reply

    Congratulations Jennifer.

  • Beth Alexander
    Posted at 08:40h, 18 November Reply

    Love how creative Jennifer is with her thrifting and how generous she is with her finds. Jennifer is a wonderful “spokesBird” for Goodwill and a terrific ambassador for its mission!
    Thanks for all you do for others, Jennifer! You are an inspiration.

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