As both a not-for-profit business, with over 1900 employees across Maine, New Hampshire and northern Vermont, and a provider of workforce development services, we get what it takes to be sure individuals who want to work are set up for success. That means, for both job seekers, and businesses looking for reliable employees, Goodwill Industries of Northern New England can be a resource that works for you.
Throughout our lives we define ourselves by what we do for a living; our work.
It was the recognition of that basic human need – and right – to work that led Edgar J. Helms to establish what is now known as Goodwill Industries, over a century ago. To many of you it is a familiar story. For all of us, it is a story worthy of repeating, so that we remember the brilliance of Edgar Helms’s solutions to a dire situation.
He was a Methodist minister from Iowa assigned to the settlement houses in South Boston. There he saw new Americans who were lacking in basic essentials: food, and clothes – dignity. So, he took it upon himself to solve the problem.
It was then that he went with horse and buggy and burlap bags to the homes of Beacon Hill. From their generosity – as well as their own need and ability to give –he clothed those in need. Yet he saw that giving away the donated goods didn’t affect the change that was needed. People were still broke, hungry, and unemployed. And, they had no prospects for employment. They needed a way to provide and care for their families – they needed jobs, and those were scarce.
It was then that the Goodwill enterprise was born – and another solution created.
Edgar Helms created Goodwill jobs out of those donated goods. In turn, those jobs gave individuals and families who had come to this nation with high hopes – yet who had been barely holding on – a real chance to build their new lives and become active participants in their community.
Edgar Helms possessed the empathy, creativity and determination to create an effective solution that you can see today in our business model. To think, when Reverend Helms began his work in Boston, it was actually in the late 19th century. Before we had the name: Goodwill Industries; we had the model. People saw the results. Used goods collected, sorted, categorized, refurbished in some cases, and sold – creating jobs at each stage in the process, and extending the useful life of goods that would otherwise go to waste.
The model was sustainable. It was replicable. It gave people jobs – and dignity. It addressed elements of systemic conditions that perpetuated poverty. And as the early slogan of “not charity, but a chance” indicated, generating revenue while creating jobs; providing job training with a paycheck was – and is – the model.
A job is not charity; it is a reciprocal relationship. That concept was an expression of Edgar Helms’ values, and yielded the elements of the resulting Goodwill character.
Goodwill. Work that works for you – for all of us.
Updated 6 months ago by Calvin Gilbert