The History of Goodwill

Goodwill was founded in 1902 in Boston by Rev. Edgar J. Helms, a Methodist minister and early social innovator. Helms collected used household goods and clothing in wealthier areas of the city, then trained and hired those who were poor 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 “Not Charity, but a Chance” was born.

Dr. Helms’ vision set an early course for what today has become a $5.59 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.”

Times have changed, but Helms’ vision remains constant: “We have courage and are unafraid. With the prayerful cooperation of millions of our bag contributors and of our workers, we will press on till the curse of poverty and exploitation is banished from mankind.”

Goodwill Industries of the Columbia is one of 162 autonomous member agencies of the Goodwill network. Established in 1969, Goodwill Industries of the Columbia operates in a 13-county region of southcentral Washington and northeastern Oregon, with stores in Kennewick, Richland, Pasco, Walla Walla, Wenatchee, Sunnyside, and Hermiston.

Goodwill Industries

Rev. Edgar J. Helms

Goodwill Founder

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