Goodwill Industries began in Boston at the turn of the 19th century

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STURTEVANT -- This year marks the 100th anniversary celebration and the rich history of Goodwill Industries has in the community. Brian Kramp spent the morning in Sturtevant at one of only two Goodwill Outlets in the state.

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About Goodwill (website)

Goodwill Industries began in Boston at the turn of the 19th century as an idea by the Rev. Edgar J. Helms. The idea was simple, fight poverty not with charity, but with trade skills—and provide a chance for the poor and the unemployed to do productive work. In the 1890s, there were no government programs to aid those in need. Determined to provide a hand up, not a hand out, Helms put a burlap bag over his shoulder and went door-to-door, appealing to well-to-do people of Boston to contribute shoes, clothing, furniture, anything. Poor men and women were put to work restoring collected goods while learning trades and sharpening skills at the same time. Income from the resale of the goods paid their wages and eventually an industrial school developed.

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With Helms as the driving force, Goodwill Industries spread throughout the United States and by October 1919, that movement began in Milwaukee.

Our Goodwill was born on the east side at Summerfield Methodist Church. The work opportunities provided in those early years gave dignity, independence and hope to the people with disabilities that we served.

In the last 100 years, our services have changed to respond to the needs of the times. We began by helping people with disabilities and disadvantages repair donated items. We helped connect our neighbors with basic services during the Great Depression and were proud to provide training and jobs to wounded soldiers coming back from World War II. We trained people on computers when technology became part of the American workforce, and during recessions we have been instrumental in connecting people to jobs.

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