Our History

The Beginning

Goodwill Industries was founded in 1902 by Dr. Edgar J. Helms, a minister in Boston, Massachusettes. Going about his work every day, Helms saw men and women standing in lines for food and work in inner-city Boston. He wanted to help.

So, Helms collected unwanted items from people in his community. He then went to the streets and hired men and women to repair those items. Once repaired, items were sold, and the people who did the work were paid. Dr. Helms wanted to give people “a chance, not charity.” The Goodwill concept of self-help worked and the model of Goodwill thrift stores helping people gain job skills was born.

Goodwill comes to the Inland Northwest

Goodwill Industries of the Inland Northwest was founded in Spokane, Washington 1939. Reverend Charles Estabrook was selected to be the first Superintendent. Rev. Estabrook, his wife and daughters traveled through the neighborhoods of Spokane and to the homes of their church members, collecting discarded clothing and furnishings. The Estabrook family and a handful of volunteers repaired and prepared these items to be sold. The first Goodwill store in Spokane opened in December 1939.

Goodwill Through Time

Over the years, Goodwill expanded in the Inland Northwest. Today, we serve 23 counties in eastern Washington and north Idaho. We have 15 stores and 9 Workforce & Family Services offices. Our Goodwill is one of 165 Goodwill agencies that are members of Goodwill Industries International.

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