Goodwill was founded in 1902 in Boston by Methodist Minister Rev. Edgar Helms. Helms collected used household goods and clothing in wealthy areas of the city, then trained and hired poor people and immigrants to mend and repair the used goods. The goods were then resold or given to the people who repaired them. The system worked and the Goodwill philosophy of a hand up, not a hand out was born.
The organization formally incorporated in 1910 and housed in Boston’s Morgan Memorial Chapel, became known as Morgan Memorial Cooperative Industries and Stores Inc. It provided job-skills training programs and even placement services. The name Goodwill Industries was adopted after Brooklyn, NY coined the phrase.
Dr. Helm’s visions set an early course for what would one day become a $1.5 billion nonprofit organization. Helms described Goodwill Industries as an industrial program as well as a social service enterprise & a provider of employment, training and rehabilitation for people of limited employability and a source of temporary assistance for individuals whose resources were depleted.
Today Goodwill Industries International is a network of 215 community-based autonomous member organizations in the United States and 25 other countries. Each organization serves people with disabilities and other needs through job training and employment services, job placement opportunities and post employment support. The network helps overcome barriers to employment and become independent tax paying members of their communities.