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Non-Profit Organizations

Jan. 19 - Goodwill Honors 155th Birthday of Founder

Savannah Business Journal Staff Report

January 19, 2018 - Goodwill Southeast Georgia remembers the “story-behind-the-store” by marking the 155th birthday of Rev. Edgar J. Helms (1863-1942) on Jan. 19. Rev. Helms’ entrepreneurial vision of Goodwill was inspired by his work with the poor and disabled of Boston Massachusetts in the early 1900s. As part of his work, Rev. Helms would collect donations of clothing and household goods from the wealthy areas of the city and train individuals on how to repair and sell the items. This process provided valuable skills training and work for the poorest communities of Boston. 

In the early days of Goodwill, this system gave immigrants and those injured during the industrial revolution a new chance to support their families. During the Great Depression, the population in need of Goodwill’s services and opportunities grew rapidly. From this need, Goodwill started to spread across America, operating on the principle of “not charity, but a chance”.

Rev. Edgar Helms’ vision is reflected in many of the operations you still see in Goodwill today. The commitment to entrepreneurial spirit and the concept of a “hand up, not a handout” is integral to the success of Goodwill. Today, Goodwill Industries International represents a $5 billion nonprofit organization dedicated to the concepts of poverty eradication, education and family strengthening.

Goodwill Industries operate on a social enterprise model based on a commitment to the ‘triple bottom line’: funding direct services, positive social outcomes and reducing environmental impact via recycling and diversion from landfill.    This culture is replicated at 165 independent, community-based Goodwill agencies across the United States and Canada. Each of these agencies collects donated goods and sells them in its stores.  The revenues go to fund job training and placement programs for people in local communities.

Goodwill Southeast Georgia was founded in 1965 with a $60,000 budget and 8 employees under the leadership of CEO Edward Bartlett. Over the past the past 53 years, their operations have grown to include manufacturing, commercial facility services and staffing services that work with businesses and government agencies including Gulfstream, International Auto Processing, Diamond Crystal Brands. Goodwill SEGA  commercial facility services clean more than 1 million sq. ft. each day at government installations at Ft. Stewart/Hunter AAF, The Juliette Gordon Lowe Federal Building Complex and the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center in Glynn County. The profits of these endeavors, like those of the well-known retail stores, fund Goodwill Southeast Georgia’s job training and vocational services programs. 

Upon reflecting on their rich history, Michael Winkler, CEO of Goodwill Southeast Georgia commented that “We continue to be inspired by Rev. Helms and are driven by the deep belief that jobs really do change lives, we see it every day in the people we assist. We truly value the community’s support and donors can be assured that their donations make a difference in our community.”

To support Goodwill’s work, find donation locations and to see how you can get involved, please visit or call (912) 354-6611.

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