157th Birthday of Goodwill’s Founder

Dr. Edgar J. Helms, Goodwill Industries International founder, was born this coming Sunday (19) back in 1863.

In 1902 at the age of 39, the young minister was assigned to the Morgan Mission in Boston’s South End. He was appalled at the conditions faced by some of the immigrants in his parish, who found themselves in a new country without jobs and sometimes desperate for food, clothing, and shelter. 

Using burlap bags and going door-to-door in Boston’s wealthiest districts, he created the model Goodwill still uses today: collecting donated clothing and household items, then reselling them to raise money for job training. Initially, he wanted to give clothing for free in return for the worker’s labor. However, they asked not to receive a “hand out,” but to receive wages. From then on, the Mission sold the repaired goods at a modest price and used that income to pay workers. 

Fast forward to today and Southern Oregon Goodwill is one of 158 member Goodwill organizations in North America. We help folks with challenging life circumstances to transform their lives through work. This year, we look to prepare hundreds of people to enter or re-enter the workforce.

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