Goodwill Industries was founded in 1902 in Boston by Reverend Edgar J. Helms, a Methodist minister and early social innovator. Helms started Goodwill with the idea that people could earn a living repairing and selling donated goods. His business model was rooted in the philosophy that a job was better than a handout. “Not charity, but a chance,” he always said.

Helms began his mission going door to door with burlap bags asking wealthy Boston residents to donate clothing. He then hired and trained people in need—many of whom were considered unemployable because they had disabilities—to repair, mend and clean the donated items so that they could be sold in thrift stores. The movement flourished and the Goodwill method of helping people earn employment was born.

Goodwill Industries of the Southern Piedmont opened its doors in 1965 as an independent Goodwill affiliate agency with fewer than 20 employees. Today we are proud to be a 21st century leader in regional workforce development and employer of more than 1,100 people. Thanks to your donations throughout the years, we have provided critical employment services to more than 150,000 individuals and business partners in the greater Charlotte region, while creating stable jobs for clients with multiple barriers to employment. Our territory spans an 18-county area in the Carolinas, including Anson, Cabarrus, Cleveland, Gaston, Lincoln, Mecklenburg, Montgomery, Polk, Richmond, Rutherford, Scotland, Stanly and Union counties in North Carolina and Chester, Chesterfield, Lancaster, Marlboro and York counties in South Carolina.

Times have changed, but Helms’ guiding principles remain a powerful reminder of how much work still lies ahead to help all job seekers achieve family-sustaining employment: “Friends of Goodwill, be dissatisfied with your work until every handicapped and unfortunate person in your community has an opportunity to develop to his fullest usefulness and enjoy a maximum of abundant living.”