Goodwill's Philosophy Still Speaks to Us Today

Article excerpt

In the spirit of the seasons celebration of peace and goodwill toward men and women, I wasnt sure how to begin todays column.

Considering some unseemly distractions and news this past week that Im saddened to say received more lip service than "Merry Christmas," a conversation with my 27-year-old son provided some enlightening direction.

Tep mentioned Goodwill Industries. He asked if I knew Goodwill had been founded more than a century ago by a Methodist minister, citing the business as an example of a successful private initiative that today is a multibillion dollar nonprofit organization, as well as an exemplary social service on a variety of levels.

Pardon my ignorance, but as a lifelong Methodist, I was unaware of the origins of Goodwill Industries and its obvious outreach.

Yet, how many times, like Kleenex or Xerox, had I used "Goodwill" as a generic term?

Since my youth, Ive used Goodwill to mean a place to donate no-longer-needed gently used clothing and household items.

At my sons encouragement, I did some research and discovered that in 1902 the Morgan Memorial Goodwill Industries was founded by the Rev. Edgar J. Helms in Boston.

An inspirational story about Helms life and mission is featured at learningtogive.org. The Briefing Papers are linked under "Browse Resources" with a profile of Helms and other philanthropists. I hope youll take a moment to visit the Web site, especially during this particular holiday season.

Briefly stated, Goodwill reflects Helms belief that what individuals need is "a chance not a charity."

In this holiday season of charitable giving, valuable lessons can be learned from the concept of Goodwill Industries. Today, Goodwill provides work force training for jobs such as bank tellers, administrative assistants and teachers aides, as well as other career services for individuals with disabilities or disadvantages in our community.

With revenues of $3.2 billion reported in 2007 at goodwill.org, the organization is financed primarily through the sale of clothing and household items donated by the public. …