Many may not know the history behind Goodwill Industries, but it is way more than your local thrift store and in fact, Goodwill Industries has been a staple in communities across the nation for more than 100 years. Founded in 1902 by Rev. Edgar J. Helms, Goodwill has grown into a $5.59 billion non-profit organization, making it the largest self-sustaining non-profit provider of employment services in the United States. Helms has been hailed as a social innovator of his time due to his efforts to provide economically disadvantaged individuals and families with opportunities to improve their overall quality of life. Helms is said to have started out by collecting used and unwanted goods and clothing from wealthier households in the Boston community and then training and hiring those who were considered “poor” to repair the items. Once repairs were complete, Helms would resell the items to individuals in the community or would give them to his workers free of charge which helped shape Goodwill’s philosophy of “Not Charity, but a Chance.” Helms has been quoted as saying that Goodwill industries is an “Industrial program as well as a social service enterprise…a provider of employment, training and rehabilitation for people of limited employability, and a source of temporary assistance for individuals whose resources were depleted.”

Goodwill provides many opportunities for all job seekers, including programs for youth, veterans, people with disabilities or other special needs, seniors and even those with criminal backgrounds. Dwight Powell, from Goodwill’s Job-Link in Charlotte County reported that “Last year alone, 261,000 people nationwide earned a job with Goodwill’s help — that’s one person every 27 seconds of every business day.” Job-Link is an employment, skills training, and family strengthening center that does far more than just assist someone in finding employment. Job-Link’s Coordinators work to connect program participants with the right people who can assist them with their individual needs. Coordinators also assist client’s “with resume preparation, interviewing skills, and access to online employment opportunities,” says Powell. He goes on to say, “At our Job-Link centers, you can use our computers to look for a job and submit online resumes and job applications. Many of our computers are also equipped with adaptive technology to assist people with disabilities.”

Not every person who walks through the door of their local Job-Link Center is ready for employment and some may need training in specific areas to enhance their employability. Goodwill Job-Link Centers provide different skills training that are vital to an individual’s success in the workforce. Additionally, they provide other soft skills training and post-placement support. “For most people, finding a job is just one small piece of the puzzle. To support your household, you may need other assistance,” says Powell. Which is why Goodwill Job-Link partners with outside agencies that provide other essential services to ensure that individuals can become self-sufficient; services like banking and budgeting, housing and rental assistance, ESL, income tax preparation, effective parenting courses, nutrition, mental health and transportation services to name only a few.

For more information about Charlotte County’s local Goodwill Job-Link Centers, please visit