For more than a century, since Methodist minister Edgar Helms founded Goodwill Industries in Boston in 1902, Goodwill has been putting people back to work.
Rev. Helms had an idea that unwanted household items could be donated and sold to people who needed them. The gathering of donations and the sale of these goods could provide employment for everyone involved in the process. As his idea became reality and began to impact the lives of people in Boston, Helms learned that steady work really is more than just a paycheck. Work helps build self-confidence, friendship, creativity, empowerment, trust and independence. Work, in fact, has the power to transform someone’s life.
Today, we call this the power of work.
Helms’ model succeeded and spread across the country. Today, the Goodwill movement — his business model with a social end — helps someone get a job every 33 seconds of every business day.
In our own community, Goodwill Industries of Upstate/Midlands South Carolina provides job search assistance and job training programs to help people find employment. We helped place 8,669 people into jobs during our 2012-2013 fiscal year. Those 8,669 people live, and now work, in a 16-county area that extends from the Georgia line up to the Gaffney peach and down into the Midlands, covering about a third of our state’s 46 counties.
In Richland County alone, our three Job Connections served 4,929 and helped place 665 people during the 2012-13 fiscal year. That is more than 600 families that have been stabilized by the power of work. These families now can put food on the table, buy new clothing and other necessities, and give Mom or Dad a sense of self-value that he or she might not have felt in a long time.
I don’t know if Edgar Helms had any idea what the Goodwill movement would become when he began collecting household goods from the wealthy neighborhoods of Boston more than a century ago. But I do know this: The Midlands might want to think about the resource we have in our Goodwill as it works every day to put more and more South Carolinians into the workforce.
Every year, we set aside the first week of May to recognize the people in the community who make Goodwill’s work possible, so this would be a particularly good time to think about that.
Board of Directors, Goodwill
Industries of Upstate/Midlands