Goodwill was founded in 1902 in Boston by Rev. Edgar J. Helms, a Methodist minister. Helms traveled door-to-door through the wealthy parts of the city, collecting used household goods and clothing. Helms then trained and hired people with disadvantages to mend and repair the used goods. The items were then resold, and the revenue was used to pay wages.
Helms described Goodwill Industries as an "industrial program as well as a social service enterprise...a provider of employment, training and rehabilitation for people of limited employability, and a source of temporary assistance for individuals whose resources were depleted."
In Southwest Florida, Goodwill's history began in 1952, when a St. Petersburg resident raised concerns about people with disabilities in the community. Goodwill Industries-Suncoast was born, and the agency opened Southwest Florida's first Goodwill store in 1959.
By 1966, several Southwest Florida businessmen, led by News-Press President and Publisher Chesley Perry, rallied to the Goodwill cause and Goodwill Industries of Southwest Florida was incorporated as a branch of Goodwill-Suncoast. Sixteen years later, Goodwill Industries of Southwest Florida was granted autonomy.
Today, Goodwill Industries of Southwest Florida, Inc. is one of 165 autonomous Goodwill agencies across the United States and Canada. We employ over 500 people in Charlotte, Collier, Glades, Hendry, and Lee Counties.