The History of Our Goodwill
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 “a hand up, not a hand out” was born.
Dr. Helms’ vision set an early course for what today has become a $4 billion dollar non-pro t 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.”
Even with a laudable history and record of accomplishment, Goodwill Industries won’t be satisfied when so many people still need our services. Through our 21st Century Initiative, we aim to improve the economic self-sufficiency of 20 million people and their families by 2020. 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.”
In Sherman back in 1958, John Sicks, a prominent member of the community, had heard of some disabled people that were struggling to make a living in a small building on Brockett Street. They had opened a resale shop and stocked it with merchandise they had dug out of the trash, or had been given. They took the items and refurbished them as well as they could, and put them out for resale. John wanted to help these people, but was not sure where or how to begin.
John began by talking to others in the community he felt would be interested in helping the less fortunate and gathered information. He discussed his dream with Reverend Arch Tolbert and came to the conclusion that a Goodwill Industries type of operation might work in Grayson County, to provide employment for individuals with disabilities.
During the next eight months he worked every day to make his dream come true. He talked to countless people throughout the county, wrote innumerable letters, and made many trips to Dallas to talk to the Goodwill Corporation leaders there. His patience and skills enabled him to solve each problem as it arose.
Like Helms, he was determined to let no obstacle prevent the realization of his dream. When he had his information and plan ready he met with the Board of Directors of the Sherman Rotary Club. The Board, and later the entire Club, endorsed the idea of sponsoring the program for the disabled. The Rotary Club launched the program in 1959.
Although many said the program would be difficult if not impossible to maintain. Mr. Sicks did not live long enough to see his dream realized, but I think he would be pleased with what was accomplished. The local organization began with a workforce of 8 disabled employees. Since that time we have employed over 3,000 disabled or disadvantaged people. Many of these people were trained for better paying jobs in the local labor market. Some are so severely handicapped that they will continue to work at Goodwill where jobs can be developed for them, so they can achieve a level of independence and dignity.
In 2016 we employed 498 employees of whom 86% had some type of disability or disadvantage. We took in donation items over 3.84 million pounds from 96,191 donors. Over 639,528 customers spent over $8.25 million dollars in our retail stores. We received $160,903 dollars in training fees and logged over 9,872 volunteer hours. We paid out over $5.65 million dollars in wages and benefits, and trained and placed 366 individuals in competitive employment.