Goodwill History in the US

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 History in Lorain County

Goodwill of Lorain County was incorporated on February 28, 1933. Consistent with the focus of GII (Goodwill Industries International) the local agency provided employment training opportunities through the operation of a store and training facilities. The original training taught woodworking skills. Over the years other avenues of skills work included furniture refinishing and light assembly.

The original stores in Lorain County were operated by the Goodwill agencies of Cleveland and Akron. In the early 90’s agreements were made for Goodwill Lorain to take over the operations of all the stores in their boundaries. In addition to the stores Goodwill Lorain operated a contracts division providing light assembly services for local manufacturers.