“Friends of Goodwill, be dissatisfied with your work until every handicapped [sic] and unfortunate person in your community has an opportunity to develop to his fullest usefulness and enjoy a maximum of abundant living.”
— Dr. Edgar J. Helms—1941
Goodwill was founded in 1902 in Boston by Rev. Edgar J. Helms, a Methodist minister and early social innovator. Helms started Goodwill with the idea that people could earn a living collecting donated goods, repairing and selling them – that a job was better than a handout. “Not charity, but a chance,” he always said.
Helms began his mission going door to door with burlap bags asking wealthy Boston residents to donate clothing. He then hired and trained people in need – many of whom were considered unemployable because they had disabilities – to repair, mend and clean the donated items so that they could be sold in thrift stores. Helms opened Goodwill’s doors to anyone with a “willingness to work” and became the pioneer of an organization that gave people hope, dignity and independence by providing them with the means to earn a paycheck and support their families. His social innovation set in motion a worldwide movement – Goodwill Industries – that has touched more than 5 million lives over the course of the past century.
Goodwill of Southeast Georgia was incorporated on April 25, 1965. With a modest beginning, operating on $60,000 a year, in a borrowed building, with eight employees, Goodwill has grown in to a multi-million dollar operation with over 850+ employees in locations throughout Southeast Georgia.