How & Why Goodwill Was Started

Goodwill was founded in 1902 in Boston by Rev. Edgar J. Helms, a Methodist minister and early social innovator. Helms, inspired by compassion for people with disabilities and disadvantaging conditions, sought a way to improve their quality of life.

Helms took a burlap sack and began traveling to the affluent  areas of the city, asking for unwanted garments and other goods. Underprivileged or indigent men and women were then offered work at the Morgan Memorial Chapel restoring the collected items, learning trades and acquiring skills as they worked.

Once the items were repaired, they were resold and the money was used to pay the wages of the workers. This cycle of donating, repairing, selling and paying wages was the beginning of Goodwill Industries.  Times have changed, but Helm’s vision remains constant.

More than 118 years later, Goodwill remains a household name and leading nonprofit provider of educational and workforce-related services.

Edgar J Helms


Goodwill Founder

History of Goodwill Industries of Greater Nebraska

Highlights from 1960’s

Highlights from 1970’s

Highlights from 1980’s

Highlights from 1990’s

Highlights from 2000’s

Highlights from 2010’s

Highlights from 2020’s