Goodwill Industries

Was founded in 1902 in Boston's South End by Rev. Edgar J. Helms. Helms collected used household goods and clothing in wealthier areas of the city, then trained and hired locals to mend and repair the used goods. The goods were then resold and the proceeds paid the workers' wages. The system worked, and the Goodwill philosophy of “a hand up, not a handout” was born.

Housed in Boston's Morgan Memorial Chapel, the organization formally incorporated in 1910 became known as Morgan Memorial Cooperative Industries and Stores, Inc. It provided job skills training programs and even a rudimentary placement service. The name “Goodwill Industries” was later adopted after a Brooklyn, NY, workshop coined the phrase.

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.”

Helms pioneered an organization that gave people hope, dignity, and independence. His social innovation set in motion a worldwide movement that would transform more than 5 million lives over the course of a century – all through the power of work.

Locally, Goodwill Industries of West Michigan, Inc. was established in 1950 through the committed efforts of a group of parents and community leaders who recognized the need for vocational training and employment opportunities for persons with disabilities. Throughout the decades, Goodwill has stayed focused on this mission, while expanding and improving services to meet the new and emerging needs of the diverse people and communities now served by the agency.

Goodwill Industries of West Michigan is a member agency of Goodwill Industries International. Goodwill’s global presence extends to five continents, with 183 full or affiliate member organizations worldwide.

For more information about Goodwill Industries International Inc., visit www.goodwill.org.

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Morgan Memorial Chapel,
birthplace of Goodwill

Rev. Edgar Helms

A burlap sack, or “relief bag”
was used for donations
collections in the early years.

Slogans used throughout the
years to describe Goodwill's
work in providing employment
opportunities rather than charity.