- Career & Training
- Support Services
- For Businesses
- Our Mission
Origin of Goodwill
Goodwill Industries was founded in 1902 in Boston's South End by Rev. Edgar J. Helms, a Methodist minister. 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 and the proceeds paid the workers' wages. The system worked, and the Goodwill philosophy of "a hand up, not a hand out" was born, helping people help themselves.
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.
Goodwill Comes to Arkansas
Goodwill Industries of Arkansas, Inc. was founded in 1927 by a group of community leaders who recognized a need for training and employment for those without job skills. Mayor Charles Moyer learned about Goodwill during a trip to Seattle, WA. Upon his return to Little Rock, he worked with interested charitable organizations in establishing Goodwill Industries of Arkansas, Inc. Throughout the decades, Goodwill has stayed focused on this mission, while expanding and improving services to meet
the new and emerging needs of the diverse people and communities now served by the agency.
Goodwill Industries of Arkansas Today
Today, Goodwill Industries of Arkansas is more relevant than ever. The organization is creating jobs, provides training and paid work experience to people with disabilities and other special needs, and offers free employment services to anyone in the community who is looking for a job and other support services.
We are excited by what we have accomplished and continue to be inspired by those that come to us seeking a brighter future. Whether you shop at or donate to Goodwill, you have been instrumental in expanding hope and opportunity for your community. You have changed lives.
A Timeline: Goodwill Industries of Arkansas
Goodwill Industries of Arkansas, Inc. was founded. The first 1,000 Goodwill bags were distributed to residents. The filled bags of clothing and household articles provided work for the first Goodwill employees in Little Rock.
A fire damaged the main plant on 7th Street in Little Rock. Goodwill rented a building on Cross Street for temporary operations.
Five Goodwill stores were opened.
Construction completed and Goodwill opened its headquarters at 1201 W. 7th Street, providing over 21,000 sq ft of space for a workshop, storage, offices, chapel, and store.
Little Rock Goodwill achieved accreditation by Goodwill Industries of America after a team from the national Goodwill office visits the organization.
A comprehensive rehabilitation program was established, employing the first clinical psychologist. 123 people with disabilities were served this year.
Goodwill stores were opened in Pine Bluff, Little Rock, and Benton.
Goodwill receives $1 million award matched by $570,000 in local contributions for construction of new rehabilitation center located at 1110 W. 7th Street.
Construction completed on new Goodwill Rehabilitation Center at 1110 W. 7th Street. Goodwill moves its operations into the new 49,000 sq ft facility. This allowed for the foundation to be laid for the program of rehabilitation services that our agency delivers today.
Goodwill launched the Extended Services program. The program provides additional training to individuals with disabilities to further develop their skills and attitude necessary to succeed in competitive employment.
Four Goodwill stores opened in Searcy, Jacksonville, and Fort Smith.
The first attended donation center opened in Benton, replacing the “drop box” system.
The Vocational Choices Program was established for “at-risk” youth in an effort to provide alternatives to incarceration that included vocational guidance and job placement.
Goodwill stores opened in Texarkana and Jonesboro.
The Goodwill Rehabilitation Center changed its name to Employment, Education, and Training Center to more clearly identify what was happening with Goodwill services.
Goodwill relocated its Fort Smith store and donation center to 3610 Townson Avenue. In April 1996, its previous location was destroyed by an explosion. Goodwill opened a new store in Springdale at 1860 West Sunset Avenue.
Goodwill began offering Workforce Alliance for Growth in the Economy (WAGE). WAGE offered training and certification in employability, industrial, and clerical skills.
A donation center was opened in Little Rock at 1801 Green Mountain Drive.
Goodwill starts Welfare to Work Program to assist welfare
recipients to obtain or prepare for employment. A new store opened in Conway at 2425 Sanders Street. This is the first donation center with a drive-thru in addition to classroom and office space for participants.
Goodwill headquarters building renamed to the Frank Lyon Center for Employment, Education and Training center in honor of Frank Lyon Jr., former board member, for his efforts and contributions to the organization.
Goodwill became an employment network for Social Security’s Ticket-to-Work Program. The program gives disability beneficiaries the opportunity to achieve long-term employment. The Goodwill store in North Little Rock relocated to 6929 John F. Kennedy Boulevard.
With a community effort, Goodwill was able to provide needed assistance to Hurricane Katrina evacuees by providing over $43,000 worth of furniture, clothing and household goods to over 1,700 victims. Goodwill opened stores in Little Rock at 9700 Rodney Parham Road and in El Dorado at 2016 Northwest Avenue.
The El Dorado store began offering free computer literacy training, GED, WAGE and employability skills classes through a partnership with the Adult Education of South Arkansas Community College.
Goodwill began the Health Equipment Link Program Services (HELPs), which offers for loan free durable medical equipment to anyone with a temporary need.
Goodwill began assisting individuals with free resume development and job search assistance services.
Brian Itzkowitz becomes President and Chief Executive Officer. Goodwill opens new retail location in Texarkana in the month of April.
Goodwill opened first career center in Little Rock. Training sites were opened in Texarkana and North Little Rock. The first Goodwill Clearance center was opened in North Little Rock. A new Springdale retail location opens with job center. An attended donation center off was opened in Fayetteville. Goodwill launched the Dell Reconnect Program to recycle unwanted electronics free of charge for area residents.
Goodwill opened three new retail stores in Bentonville, Bryant, and Cabot. Total number of career centers opened is 4.
New locations were opened in West Little Rock on Markham Park in February. Benton moved to a new location three times bigger than the previous location and a new location was opened in Fayetteville. Total number of career centers opened is 7. Goodwill celebrates a new record of serving over 5,000 people and reached 1,000,000 customer transactions for the 1st time.
Goodwill celebrates 85th year in business.