History of Goodwill Industries of the Valleys

In the early years, Goodwill Industries of the Valleys was organized out of the old Union Mission and founded October 10, 1931 in Roanoke, Virginia. Mr. S.L. Thomas was the first superintendent who oversaw the work of 20-30 people operating a paper plant which generated about $10,000 a year. Goodwill was housed in a three story brick building on Norfolk Avenue that had a cabinet shop, shoe shop, store, mission hall, and 32 rooms for the homeless.

According to early Goodwill records, dating to 1935, the Roanoke program was one of 89 Goodwills of which 57 still remain to this day. The Goodwill in Roanoke was the 64th program organized. Today, over a hundred years later, Goodwill Industries of the Valleys is one of 165 independent, community-based Goodwill agencies in the United States and Canada. There are also 14 affiliates in 13 other countries.

Goodwill Industries of the Valleys, as we are known today, was created in January 2000 through the merger of four organizations with similar missions – all committed to serving people in need. The organizations were the New River Valley Workshop, Developmental Center of Franklin County, ARC, and Goodwill Industries Tinker Mountain. This merger allowed Goodwill to better meet the needs of the individual communities throughout the service area.

Goodwill Industries of the Valleys is structured along critical business lines: Services (Work Training and Commercial), Workforce Development, and Donated Goods. This structure, implemented in July of 2008, has enabled Goodwill to facilitate growth in all business segments including service to individuals with disabilities and disadvantages. In 2016, Goodwill served 45,632 youth, adults, and seniors who needed assistance getting back to work and gaining greater independence, placed 4,067 people into jobs in our community, and helped individuals attain 1,335 industry recognized credentials that will allow them to be more competitive in their job search and to find higher paying employment.

The Support Center, located in Roanoke, provides support in finance, human resources, safety, informational technology, marketing, development, and compliance.

In October 2011, Goodwill marked 80 years of service in the Valleys. The anniversary was commemorated with the unveiling of a pictorial mural of the past 80 years.


Goodwill history: Goodwill Industries of the Valleys celebrates 80 years of service

History of Goodwill Industries International

Rev. Edgar J. Helms, a Methodist minister, founded Goodwill in 1902 in Boston’s South End. Helms collected used household goods and clothing in wealthier areas of the city, then trained and hired the poor and immigrants to mend and repair the used goods. The goods were then resold or were given to the people who repaired them. The system worked, and the Goodwill philosophy of “a hand up, not a hand out” was born.

The organization, formally incorporated in 1910 and housed in Boston’s Morgan Memorial Chapel, became known as Morgan Memorial Cooperative Industries and Stores, Inc. It provided job skills training programs and even a rudimentary placement service. The name “Goodwill Industries” was later adopted after a Brooklyn, NY, workshop coined the phrase.

During the decades that followed, Helms’ vision spread as Goodwill organizations sprung up throughout North America. The Depression era brought an increased focus on people with disabilities. In later years, people with economic and social barriers to employment began to benefit from Goodwill’s outreach. Today, Goodwill is international in scope and the populations we serve are more diverse than ever. Yet our ultimate goal remains unchanged: to place individuals in productive and competitive employment.

Today there are 165 independent, community-based Goodwill agencies in the United States and Canada, as well as 14 affiliates in 13 other countries. Collectively, Goodwill provided employment training and job placement services to 3 million people in the United States and Canada last year. Learn more about Goodwill Industries International.

For more information on Goodwill Industries of the Valleys, contact info@goodwillvalleys.com.