Goodwill Industries International (GII)
Goodwill Industries International was founded in 1902 in Boston by a Methodist minister who collected used household goods and clothing in wealthy areas of the city, then trained and hired poor individuals to mend and repair the items. He then resold the items to the people who repaired them, thus beginning the Goodwill philosophy of “a hand up, not a hand out.” Each year, millions of individuals benefit from programming provided by over 175 Goodwill Industries International member organizations.
Local History and Mission Prior to 1979, local individuals had access to Goodwill programming through Akron’s Goodwill chapter. In 1980, a group of Wayne County business leaders mobilized to form Goodwill Industries of Wayne County, Inc., a 501(c) 3 nonprofit organization, and ten years later the agency expanded to include Holmes County. Like the other Goodwill affiliates of Goodwill Industries International, Goodwill Industries of Wayne and Holmes Counties operates independently, guided by its own local Board of Trustees made up of diverse community leaders. In this way, local Goodwill agencies are able to develop programs based on the needs of their own unique communities.
Goodwill provides participants with training to obtain employment so that they can gain a sense of self-sufficiency, pride, and accomplishment while decreasing their reliance on public assistance programs. While Goodwill’s programs are designed to help all job seekers, the majority of participants report a disabling condition; a lack of literacy, high school equivalency (diploma or GED), or reliable transportation; a past criminal record; or a history of substance abuse.
Three divisions work together to provide Goodwill’s programming: Workforce Development, which is at the core of the Mission; Industrial Services, which works with local manufacturers; and Retail/Donated Goods, whereby donated items are sold at retail stores or recycled/repurposed. Both Industrial Services and Retail/Donated Goods provide on-the-job training opportunities for program participants while generating revenue for the Workforce Development division, which provides GED preparation, computer training, work and life skills training, resume writing, interview preparation, job-specific training, and other essential employment support.
Goodwill operates five stores within the two-county service area in Wooster, Orrville, Rittman, Millersburg, and Loudonville, generating income to provide employment training and services to local individuals with barriers to employment. Each year, Goodwill Industries of Wayne and Holmes Counties’ programming touches nearly 2,000 local individuals, helping them to reach their highest levels of independence and success through training and employment related services.