Goodwill Industries of Greater Cleveland and East Central Ohio is celebrating Goodwill Week May 3-8, 2021 to honor our long-standing mission and impact on those we serve.
For nearly 70 years, Goodwill organizations throughout the United States and Canada have celebrated Goodwill Week every year during the first full week of May to raise awareness of our critical mission of getting people who have lost jobs back to work and demonstrate the power of work.
Goodwill Industries began in Boston in 1902 as an idea by the Rev. Edgar J. Helms. Determined to provide a hand up, not a hand out, Helms was focused on fighting poverty not with charity, but with trade skills. This provided a chance for the poor and the unemployed to do productive work. In the absence of government programs to aid those in need, Helms went door-to-door, appealing to well-to-do people of Boston to contribute shoes, clothing, furniture, anything. In order to permanently change their lives through sustainable employment, men and women were put to work restoring the collected clothing and household items while learning trades, skills and earning an income at the same time. Income from the resale of the goods paid their wages and quickly a movement was developed.
With Helms as the driving force, Goodwill Industries spread throughout the United States and by 1918, in the middle of the flu pandemic, that movement began in Cleveland. The work opportunities provided in those early years gave dignity, independence, and hope to those in need and people with disabilities.
As the Great Depression hit the country hard, the services Goodwill provided grew tremendously. 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.
In the last 100 years, our services have changed to respond to the needs of the times and our core belief in the power of work is what drives us each day to serve those in our community. With 27 mission-based programs across our 10-county footprint, Goodwill of Greater Cleveland and East Central Ohio provides employment and training services to more than 10,000 people annually. This mission of service is made possible through the generosity of our community through their donations and patronage of our 22 retail stores. Goodwill sells donated items in our network of retail stores and online at shopgoodwill.com® and uses the revenue to create job placement and training programs to help people earn paychecks and build their careers.
Additionally, The Ken Weber Community Campus houses more than 20 other non-profit organizations. Annually we welcome thousands of visitors at our campus through program participation, community outreach and access to a myriad of services.
Although our services have changed, our belief in the power of work has remained the same. If you shopped our stores, donated your stuff, or made a financial contribution, you helped someone in your local community find a job and get back on their feet. Thank you for your support of Goodwill Industries of Greater Cleveland and East Central Ohio.