Rev. Edgar J. Helms
Rev. Edgar J. Helms, a Methodist minister, founded Goodwill in Boston, Massachusetts in 1902. As a pastor in the Boston community, Rev. Helms noticed that many individuals in the neighborhood were in desperate need of clothing and household goods. Many of these individuals were also unemployed due to language barriers and limited job skills.
In response to this crisis, Rev. Helms asked the members of his congregation to collect used household goods and clothing from the wealthier areas of the city. Once the items were collected, he invited anyone in the community to come in the next week and take what they needed. But when Rev. Helms opened the doors, he was greeted with pushing and shoving as individuals desperately tried to take as many items as they could to help support their family.
Rev. Helms decided that there must be a better way to help the community and so he again asked his congregation members to collect used household goods and clothing but this time he trained and hired the poor and immigrants to mend and repair the used goods. The goods were then resold or were given to the people who repaired them. The system worked, and the Goodwill philosophy of "a hand up, not a hand out" was born.
As Rev. Helms had intended 100 years ago, the goal of Goodwill remains unchanged today: to help individuals find productive and competitive employment and contribute to our community’s economic vitality.
Goodwill Industries International is a network of 166 community-based, autonomous member organizations that serves people with workplace disadvantages and disabilities by providing job training and employment services, as well as job placement opportunities and post-employment support.
With locations in the United States, Canada and 14 other countries, Goodwill helps people overcome barriers to employment and become independent, tax-paying members of their communities. To fund our mission, we collect donated clothing and household goods to sell in our 2,300 retail stores and provide contract labor services to business and government. We also receive funding from donations as well as corporate, foundation and government grants.
84 percent of our revenues are channeled into job training and placement programs and other critical community services.