Since 1902, Goodwill has been providing opportunities for men and women across America and around the world. Reverend Edgar J. Helms started the organization in Boston, Massachusetts with nothing more than a burlap sack and a desire to give a better life to people in his community.
Reverend Helms collected unwanted clothing and household goods and distributed the items to the needy of his congregation. Later, he put people to work processing the goods and preparing them for resale. Through new work opportunities, men and women were able to earn their own wages and learn about the power of work. This cycle of donations, processing, resale and wages marked the beginning of Goodwill Industries.
Today, Goodwill Industries International has grown to include a network of 165 community-based, autonomous member organizations in the United States and Canada, and 14 in other counties.
Goodwill Industries of Akron was established in 1927 in a one-room salon at the corner of Howard and Furnace Streets as a branch of Goodwill Industries of Cleveland. In the 1950s, Goodwill staffed 15 employees and reported an income of $23,000. Within ten years, Goodwill expanded to 178 employees and reported an income of $360,500. By the year 1999, Goodwill had served 3,948 people and placed 428 people in competitive employment.
After much anticipation, Goodwill Industries of Akron relocated from South College Street to Waterloo Road in 2000. Goodwill continues to flourish today. In 2011, Goodwill served 7,263 individuals and placed 90% of those that were ready, into competitive employment. Goodwill continues to assist individuals to strengthen the skills needed to be successful in the workforce and the self-sufficiency tools needed to be successful in life.
For more information about the history of Goodwill Industries International, visit www.goodwill.org.