Goodwill Industries of the Chesapeake, Inc. is proud to be celebrating 100 years in Maryland. Founded in 1919, Goodwill is known for its retail stores and donation centers that fund job training programs for those with barriers to employment.
The Baltimore Goodwill Industries was started by Reverend John S. German and a group of prominent civic leaders. The first factory was in the Fellowship Hall of Broadway Methodist Episcopal Church. Two employees were hired to stencil and fold burlap bags for the collection of reclaimable household goods, which could then be sold. Proceeds from these collections would pay the workers, and thereby make the operation self-sustainable. The Baltimore Goodwill Industries was incorporated on February 27, 1919 and was the seventh Goodwill in the U.S. with a first year budget of $2,625.
Goodwill’s collection efforts grew dramatically over the course of thirty years. Household collection bags were supplemented by donation drives led by the Boy and Girl Scouts, and Goodwill boxes were placed throughout the metropolitan area to keep up with the growing demand for collection services. Later, Goodwill reached out to local communities with mobile donation centers staffed by Goodwill employees. These donation centers, and the retail stores they supplied, soon became synonymous with the name “Goodwill.”
In 1948, Goodwill’s commitment to helping others took a giant step forward with a vocational training program, established jointly by both state and federal agencies. By 1955, the program was certified as a nonpublic vocational training facility (among Maryland’s first), and nearly 200 disabled individuals had been prepared to join the ranks of independent citizens. Around the same time, Goodwill accepted the first of many contracts to provide industrial services to local businesses. Such contracts fulfilled dual needs, providing companies with top quality workers, and providing gainful employment to individuals with severe disabilities. With the establishment of a vocational training facility and the creation of formal business relationships with local companies, Goodwill’s commitment to the disadvantaged of Baltimore continued to move the company forward.
As the needs of the community changed, Goodwill services have changed as well. Today, Goodwill is committed to serving those with the least access to employment opportunities through a continuum of workforce development services which last year included providing job readiness classes, and case management to address housing, transportation, education, child care opportunities, and any other barrier they may encounter. Obviously none of this is possible without employer partners and many human services organizations throughout Baltimore. In 1999, Goodwill moved its headquarters to the current location at 222 East Redwood Street to be more accessible to public transportation and better serve participants.
Throughout 2019, Goodwill Industries of the Chesapeake will be celebrating its 100th anniversary with its many supporters across the state of Maryland. On October 19, 2019, Goodwill will host a gala celebration. The evening event at Montgomery Park will offer guests an opportunity to experience the impact of our mission and celebrate the people and organizations that have been a part of this journey.