Goodwill’s History of Community-Building Work

Goodwill
Image: goodwill.org

Erol Onel, MD, has built up a distinguished career in the fields of urology, andrology, reproductive health, and pharmaceutical clinical development. Currently a vice president of Heron Therapeutics, Inc., Dr. Erol Onel is also devoted to philanthropy, making regular contributions to humanitarian organizations such as Goodwill Industries International, Inc.

Goodwill manages storefronts and donation centers familiar in most larger communities across the United States. The group translates supporters’ donations into helping individuals, families, and communities to improve their circumstances. It provided job skills training, career support, and other assistance to more than 300,000 people in one recent year alone.

But far fewer people today know Goodwill’s history.

At the turn of the 20th century, Dr. Edgar Helms set out to assist individuals from disadvantaged backgrounds and people with disabilities to fulfill their potential as skilled employees and providers for their families. The Methodist minister and social reformer worked in Boston’s South End. He decided that the best way to help the people of the neighborhood to help themselves was to offer them a means of working with dignity.

So, in 1902, he founded Goodwill, through which people from disadvantaged backgrounds repaired donated clothing, then sold it at prices affordable to others of limited means. While today’s Goodwill employees no longer repair the used items they sell, the basic model of offering both employment and a means of obtaining necessities for only a nominal charge remains, with everyone involved benefiting from the transaction.

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