Goodwill Industries began as a simple idea in 1902 in Boston, Massachusetts. The Rev. Edgar Helms, a young Methodist minister fresh out of seminary, arrived at Morgan Chapel in the poor community of Boston’s South End. There he found poor struggling immigrants from Germany, Poland, Italy and other countries who had little money, no jobs, did not know the language and were losing hope.
To help meet their needs, Helms collected used household good 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. And that same philosophy drives us still today.
Goodwill Industries of Central Alabama, Inc. (GICA) is an independent 501 (c) (3) nonprofit organization, which was established in 1968, based on a need assessment recommended by the River Region United Way, known at that time as the United Appeal Agency. The regional Goodwill’s are all connected by Goodwill Industries International (GII). GII is based in Rockville, Maryland and is the Member Service Center that assigns territories, facilitates Goodwill’s working together, and oversees the Goodwill brand.
GICA is a “social business enterprise;” supporting, encouraging and striving to create employment opportunities for individuals with disabilities. This is accomplished through the combined efforts of GICA’s Department of Plant Operations, Retail, Contracts and Workforce Development. Goodwill collects donated items, sells them in one of their nine retail stores and uses the revenue to fund job training for individuals around the River Region. Goodwill has over 200 employees and over 75% of all hours worked are performed by the employees, having a documented disability.