For many of us, the Goodwill store is a familiar place to stretch a small budget for bargains in quality recycled clothing and furniture.
For others in need, Goodwill means a comforting Thanksgiving meal or a badly needed new pair of shoes for school. And for hundreds of disabled persons each year, it represents a chance to learn job skills, to receive needed personal support and to earn a living.
Since 1919, Baltimore Goodwill Industries has been serving the community with its mission of hope for the disadvantaged through the efforts and contributions of the more fortunate.
Its 16 retail stores, relying on the donations of used goods that range from books and silverware to electronics and sofas, had sales of more than $3 million last year. The organization collected nearly 8 million pounds of donated goods.
More importantly, it trained more than 100 handicapped and needy people in job skills to find outside employment. And it employed another 170 people in its collecting, sorting, repairing and retail operations. At the Goodwill Distribution Center, workers are busy filling subcontract orders for 35 area businesses, while other Goodwill crews have jobs cleaning large government buildings.
"Not Charity but a Chance" read the slogans on the burlap bags that the original Baltimore Goodwill campaign used to collect clothing and household items from city homes. That continues to be the message, reflected in the new slogan "Opportunity Working."
Founded in Baltimore at the Broadway Methodist Church, shortly after a half-dozen other cities had adopted the program, our community quickly responded to the appeal for a helping hand.
From the start, the organization hired and trained the poor, the elderly and the disabled to refurbish and prepare the donated items for resale.
As Baltimore Goodwill Industries proudly celebrates its 75th anniversary, the primary mission remains the same as it was in those founding days of the post-war depression: improving the quality of life for people with special needs. We salute the efforts of volunteers and staff and the public who have made it a model of success over the years.