History of Goodwill Industries International

Goodwill Industries was established in 1902 by Reverend Edgar J. Helms, who served as a Methodist minister among poor immigrants in Boston’s South End. Inspired by compassion for the poor, sick and disabled, and determined to improve their quality of life. Helms took burlap sacks door-to-door to wealthier families of the city and asked for unwanted clothing, shoes and household goods. He employed the needy to restore collected items at the Morgan Memorial Chapel, teaching them trades and skills in the process as they worked. Wages to the workers were paid by the funds obtained from selling the refurbished items.


The cycle of donations, processing, resale and wages was the beginning of Goodwill Industries and is the formula that remains essentially intact today. As the driving force spreading the success of Goodwill Industries across the United States, Helms began touring the world in 1926, preparing for an international movement. Today’s Goodwill enterprise is a network of 157 community-based, autonomous organizations in the United States and Canada with a presence in 12 other countries. To meet the needs of their local communities, each local Goodwill organization designs its own programs and services to help people find work near where they live.

History of Gulfstream Goodwill Industries

Our local Goodwill Industry, Gulfstream Goodwill Industries Inc., was founded when founder and former Mayor of West Palm Beach, Ham Anthony, made the decision in 1966 to establish a Goodwill enterprise in Palm Beach County,. Mr. Anthony did so by bringing together local business leaders who shared his vision and then created the first board of directors made up of some of the most prominent businessmen in Palm Beach County at that time. These founders and original sponsors were M. P. (Ham) Anthony, Sr., Founder, Fred O. (Bud) Dickinson, Jim Y. Arnold, Jr. , Dr. Myrl Spivey, Thomas M. Vernon, and Carl L. Kopp.


Beginning with 10 employees, there was no looking back from the initial 25 board of directors in 1966. No one anticipated the job would be easy and it was not. Growing from two small retail thrift stores, a couple of dated donated trucks, and the persistence to succeed, the first rehabilitation facility was opened in 1968. Now, 54 years later with over 900 employees serving as the largest health, human and social services nonprofit in the South Florida area collectively, some of the many services and programs critical to those we serve are assisting people with disabilities through training, education, and job placement, operating and managing the Senator Philip D. Lewis Homeless Resource Center, operation of the Gulfstream Goodwill Transition to Life Academy Charter High School, Adult Day Training programs, non-violent offender reentry services and programs for adults and youth! In addition, Gulfstream Goodwill operates 4 rehabilitation facilities and many residential transitional housing facilities. Affordable transitional housing is one of the greatest needs for those who are transitioning from homelessness and with disabilities in our area so our efforts remain focused on increasing the necessary housing needs.


A large part of the agency’s mission is the operation of 26 retail thrift stores and 24 separate donation drop-off centers throughout the five-county jurisdiction. E-Commerce, technology and sustainability are paramount within our retail thrift store mission in all areas of in-kind donations with a great emphasis on textile recycling, computer recycling, refurbishing, and resale. These thrift operations offer significant support for all of our services and support facilities.


As a nonprofit leader in providing health, human and social services to those with disabilities and other barriers, the times have indeed changed, but the basic service needs still exist to ensure dignity for those served. Gulfstream Goodwill Industries is extremely proud of our 54 years as a leading nonprofit organization and community partner that continues to uphold the legacy of the Goodwill brand while helping people with disabilities and other barriers to become self-sufficient working members of the communities served.

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