Reverend Edgar J. Helms, a Methodist minister in Boston's South End, founded Goodwill Industries in 1902. Inspired by compassion for the poor, sick, people with disabilities and immigrants, Helms was determined to improve their quality of life. He shouldered a burlap sack and went door-to-door to wealthier families of the city asking for unwanted clothing, shoes and household goods to distribute among those in need. Shortly after, he changed his approach. Helms hired the needy to repair and sell the donated goods at a storefront while using the activity to provide them with training, work skills and help them find jobs. He used the proceeds from the sales to pay wages to the needy and support the program mission. This marked the creation of the system that today remains intact at 178 Goodwill Industries in America - that last year served over 544,765 people, and placed 103,765 people in jobs.
Goodwill Industries all around the world celebrated the organization's rich 100-year history and the five million lives touched by our programs and services. Goodwill's founder, Edgar J. Helms, has been recognized for this accomplishment in a very special way. The National Park Service has created a new national monument called "The Extra Mile Volunteer Pathway", inaugurated by President George W. Bush. The monument features hand-sculpted bronze medallions created to honor private citizens who have made a difference in the lives of people in America. The medallions will be placed at the one-mile memorial path adjacent to the White House and U.S. Treasury Department in Washington, D.C. The Pathway's first medallion is in honor of Goodwill's founder, Edgar J. Helms. Other honorees include Clara Barton, Martin Luther King, Jr. and Susan B. Anthony.
Roy Perry, Vice President of City National Bank, and James Ryder, founder of Ryder Corporation, together with other distinguished citizens founded the Miami Goodwill in 1959. At the time there were 117 Goodwills in existence.
In 1981, Goodwill was a small organization serving very few people and supporting its mission with limited funding . As a result of the 1980 Mariel Boat lift bringing a large influx of people with disabilities to our community, and the subsequent civil unrest in our inner city, there was a sudden demand for Goodwill rehabilitation, training and employment services for a large number of people with disabilities and special needs. Yet, the absence of additional funding to serve this expanding population limited Goodwill's response.
Goodwill's leadership responded with a bold plan to pursue diversified entrepreneurial activities to create a variety of options for a diverse population. Labor intensive work would be used as a tool in helping people learn skills, acquire an appropriate work ethic, gain confidence and develop their self-esteem in an environment similar to the competitive world - earning a paycheck - but more importantly, receiving workforce development services from Goodwill. The ultimate goal was to achieve competitive community employment. Revenues from the activities would be a significant part of helping support the mission.
The vision succeeded beyond all of our expectations. In twenty years, Goodwill's size has increased 18 times, resulting in a social business enterprise consisting of four entrepreneurial divisions as a support to our Rehabilitation Services by helping people with disabilities and special needs to achieve, in record numbers each year, their goals of independence, freedom and dignity. Goodwill is now able to provide structured, supportive rehabilitation-driven work programs in these four areas: Donated Goods, Apparel Manufacturing, Pre-print inserting, Service Contracts. (See Rehabilitation Services for more information in these areas.)
Today, because of the extraordinary Board of Directors' leadership and community support, the Miami-Dade County Goodwill is the sixth largest from among 178 Goodwills in North America.