History

Goodwill Industries was founded in 1902 by Dr. Edgar J. Helms, a Boston minister, in Boston, Massachusetts. He conceived the idea of collecting unwanted household goods and employing jobless men and women to refurbish them for re-sale in simple storefronts. Dr. Helms wanted to give people “a chance, not charity.” The Goodwill concept of self-help worked and the movement gradually spread west across the country.

 

Goodwill Industries of the Inland Northwest was founded in Spokane, Washington in April 1939. Reverend Charles Estabrook was selected to be the first Superintendent. The Estabrook’s took the charge to start a Goodwill to heart. 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 family “cleaned, mended and pressed until we had quite a nice stock ready to sell.”

 

The first Goodwill Store in Spokane was a small shack located at 130 E. Third Avenue. The doors opened on December 5, 1939 – with $43 in debt, 2 helpers, and Rev. Estabrook as the Superintendent. All of them worked for 6 months with no pay.

 

By 1952, Goodwill of Spokane was posting sales of $45,000 a year. Goodwill employed 20-30 people with disabilities, repairing donations and learning a marketable trade. Goodwill had a variety of workshops, including a cabinetry business, a laundry facility, a shoe repair workshop, and a sewing department. Mended and cleaned donations were sold in the one Goodwill store. 

Today, Goodwill focuses on training individuals, helping them overcome barriers to employment, establish stability, and get jobs in the community, rather than creating a “sheltered” work environment for people with disabilities. 

Seventy-five years after opening our doors in a small shack to help people in Spokane, Goodwill has expanded to become Goodwill Industries of the Inland Northwest, serving 23 counties in Central/Eastern Washington and Northern Idaho. 

  • We operate a whole fleet of small trucks and semi-trucks to manage our 20 million pounds of donations.
  • We operate 21 offices and stores in 2 states. 
  • We operate online sales on several platforms.
  • We employ more than 500 people throughout our region.
  • We help more than 6000 people every year through our service programs. 
  • We invest more than $23,000,000 back into our communities each year.